Unitarian Universalist Women's Heritage
Notable Universalist and Unitarian Women: M
Elizabeth Whitehead Malleson (1828 - 1916) British Unitarian
Elizabeth Whitehead, the eldest of eleven children, was born in 1828 in Chelsea to a Unitarian family. In 1857 she married Frank Malleson. They had four children. In 1864 Malleson opened the College for Working Women, based on the idea of the Working Men's College, which had been founded ten years earlier. In 1874, she turned the Working Women's College into the co-educational College for Men and Women. This continued in Queen Square until its dissolution in 1901, although she was not involved in later years. A supporter of woman's suffrage, Elizabeth Malleson joined the London Society for Women's Suffrage. She also was involved in the start of the rural district nursing in England.
(Note: Notable Women originally had her name and dates, and a reference to nursing. This notation was compiled while putting Notables on the website. August 20102)
Melvina Jane Church Manley (Dec. 9, 1821-Mar. 31, 1877) Universalist
She was born in Nunda NY, the thirteenth of nineteen children. Avid for education, she became skillful in literature, Latin, Greek, French and German. She began teaching school at sixteen and contributed to the education of her siblings. She was a permanent contributor to the Ladies' Repository, and was known for her Indian stories. She was the second wife of The Rev. W. E. Manley and bore him six children, none of whom survived.
Mary Tyler Peabody Mann (Nov. 16, 1806-Feb. 11, 1887) Unitarian
Mary was an educator in her own right but spent much of her life supporting the work of her husband, Horace Mann, and sister, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody. She was a tireless advocate of her husband's education reform efforts and encouraged his Congressional opposition to the Compromise of 1850. When her husband assumed the presidency of Antioch College (Yellow Springs, OH, 1863), she followed him and faithfully performed the roles of president's wife and unofficial dean of women. After her husband's death in 1859 she became involved in her sister Elizabeth's kindergarten work in Boston and handled much of the literary side of publicizing the movement while her sister traveled and lectured. Together they published Moral Culture of Kindergarten and Kindergarten Guide (1863), a book on the philosophy and methods of early education. Mary stressed the importance of love in teaching young children, insisted that children were innately good, and described the process of education as eliciting "faculties" within the child rather than the implantation of facts. Her book, Life and Works of Horace Mann, was the first extended biography of her husband and the first published collection of his writings.
Rowena Morse Mann (1870-Mar. 3, 1958) Unitarian
Teacher, lecturer, and Unitarian minister, she was born to a mill-owning family in Ithaca NY. Apparently not satisfied with her roots, she sometimes claimed to be the granddaughter of the inventor of Morse code; she also fabricated various degrees and places of study. However, she really was the first woman to receive a doctorate from the University of Jena, Germany, and the one of the first women to speak at Harvard Divinity School. Her career began as a science teacher. In 1906 she was ordained in Geneva IL, where she served for a year as minister. She then served churches in Keokuk and Chicago (3rd Unitarian) and was one of the directors of the Western Unitarian Conference. In the 1920's she turned her energy to public speaking, lecturing on sociology, politics, ethics, art, American history, democracy, international affairs, and world peace. Her writings include Theories of Knowledge (1904) and Moral Education and the Scientific Method (1925). Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library.
Elizabeth Manwell (Apr. 8, 1897-Oct. 11, 1964) Unitarian
Her education included a BA from Smith College in 1918 and a PhD from the University of Iowa (c. 1929). A member of May Memorial Unitarian Society of Syracuse NY, she served as director of the Church school from 1935 to 1945. Elizabeth was on the American Unitarian Association Curriculum Committee with Sophia Fahs and Ernest Kuebler. She was co-author with Sophia Fahs of the curricula Consider the Children, How They Grow and Always Growing. She was part-time associate professor of Home Economics (Marriage and Family Relations) at Syracuse University for over 30 years. She also served as a Trustee of St. Lawrence Theological Seminary and a speaker at various institutes-Star Island, Unirondack, Lake Geneva, etc.
Lucy Whitney Markley (July 17, 1894-1968) Universalist
Born in Clarendon NY, both of her parents were Universalist ministers. In 1895 the family moved to Maine, where Lucy graduated from high school. She was ordained in Stockton IL, where she served the parish while continuing her education, earning several degrees. In 1922 she moved to Chicago to take charge of the North Side Mission which became the North Shore Church, and in 1925 she received her PhD. She was assistant librarian at Union Theological Seminary in NY and became full librarian in 1942.
Barbara Adams Marshman (Apr. 23, 1910-June 11, 1996) Unitarian Universalist
Her family was active in the Universalist church in Medford MA, and she became a Sunday school teacher in her teens. She graduated from Massachusetts School of Art and was director of religious education in Winchester MA. In 1980 she was ordained Minister of Religious Education at the Follen Church in Lexington MA. She received an honorary doctorate from Meadville/Lombard Theological School and won the Angus MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education. She co-authored a number of religious education curricula.
Harriet Martineau (June 12, 1802-1876) British Unitarian
Abolitionist, sociologist, journalist, and author, her observations on 19th-century life in America are both significant and interesting, including comments on Unitarians and their ambivalent support of abolition. Her observations are contained in Society in America (3 volumes, London: Saunders and Otley, 1837) and Retrospect of Western Travel (2 volumes, NY: Harper and Bros., 1848). In 1823, the Unitarian journal, Monthly Repository, published a ground-breaking article by her, "On Female Education," in which she denied the inferiority of the female mind and argued for improvement of education for girls. She also wrote an anti-slavery epic, Demerara (1832). Her autobiography, edited by American abolitionist Maria Weston Chapman, is Harriet Martineau's Autobiography (2 volumes, Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1877). Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Emma Jacobina Christiana Marwedel (Feb. 27, 1818-Nov. 17, 1893) German/US Unitarian
Born in Munden, Germany, Emma was a teacher and was chosen to be the first director of the newly established Girls' Industrial School in Hamburg in 1867. She also conducted a kindergarten according to the principles of Friedrich Froebel. When Elizabeth Peabody visited there, she was so impressed that she invited Emma to the United States. She established schools near Brentwood, Long Island, Washington DC, and Los Angeles (at the invitation of Caroline Severance). She operated her Pacific Kindergarten Normal School, along with a model kindergarten, from 1880 until her retirement in 1886. Her writings include Conscious Motherhood: or the Earliest Unfolding of the Child in the Cradle, Nursery and Kindergarten (1887), The Connecting Link, to Continue the Three-Fold Development of the Child from the Cradle to the Manual-Labor School (1891) and undated pamphlets such as An Appeal for Justice to Childhood and Games and Studies in Live Forms and Colors of Nature for Home and School.
Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk (Nov. 20, 1850-May 13, 1923) US/Czechoslovakian Unitarian
Born in Brooklyn with a French Huguenot background, she married Thomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, on Mar. 15, 1878. One of their sons, Jan, became the second president. She was subject to mental difficulties and was frequently confined to a nursing facility. She died at Lany, the Masaryk country home.
Caroline Mason (1823-1890) Universalist.
She was a hymn writer
Elizabeth Louisa Foster Mather (Jan.7, 1815-?) Universalist
Her birthplace was East Haddam CT. She was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church where her parents were members. She married E. W. Mather who soon became a Universalist, and she joined his conversion. She wrote for the Ladies' Repository from 1847 to 1874 and also for the Universalist Union, the Ambassador, the Trumpet the Golden Rule, the Odd fellows' Offering and other publications on religious and social subjects.
Florida Scott Maxwell (1883-1979) raised Unitarian
Born in Florida, she grew up in a Unitarian family in Pittsburgh PA. Abandoning a promising career in the theater, she married a Scotsman and raised a family in his native land. Author of plays, books, and articles, at age 50 she undertook a new career as Jungian analyst, which she pursued for 25 years. She was regularly featured on BBC's "Third Programme." Her works include The Flash Point (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 1914), Toward Relationship (London: Bodley Head, 1939), Women and Sometimes Men (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1957), and The Measure of My Days (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1968). Katherine Allison's unpublished doctoral dissertation on Florida Scott-Maxwell is available on microfilm at the University of Washington.
Abigail Williams May (Apr. 21, 1829-Nov. 30, 1888) Unitarian
She chaired the Executive Committee of the New England branch of the Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, served actively with the New England Freedman's Aid Society, helped found and served as president of the New England Woman's Club, was elected to the Boston School Committee, served on the executive boards of both the New England and Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Associations, and was the first president of the Massachusetts School Suffrage Association and of the Women's Auxiliary Conference, the first Unitarian women's organization. A member of Boston's Church of the Disciples, she wrote two pamphlets encouraging women to vote in school elections.
Mila Frances Tupper Maynard (Jan. 26, 1864-Nov.2, 1926) Unitarian
Born in Brighton, IA, Mila was nurtured in her development as a minister by her older sister, the Rev. Eliza Tupper Wiles. She attended public schools in Des Moines and taught for three years in Sioux Falls. She earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University while assisting her sister in her parishes during summer vacations. Mila was ordained in 1890. She served in La Porte IN and later in Grand Rapids MI. She moved to Chicago where she met and married Rezin Maynard. The couple worked at Hull House with Jane Addams. Rezin was also ordained, but not as a Unitarian. They served in Reno NV, Salt Lake City UT, and Denver CO, and in 1907 returned to Los Angeles CA where they had lived intermittently since their marriage. They were active in the Socialist Party and the women's suffrage movement. Mila's work shifted from ministry to writing and lecturing. She was an editorial writer for the Denver Times and the Rocky Mountain News. She published a book on the poetry of Walt Whitman. She is credited with organizing Unity Church of Santa Monica.
Sarah Carter Edgarton Mayo (Mar. 17, 1819-July 9, 1848) Universalist
Born in Shirley MA, 10th child of prosperous Universalists who later fell on hard times, her first published poem appeared in the Ladies' Repository when was 16. A frequent contributor to there, she wrote numerous poems and stories. Her children's books include The Palfreys a Tale by a Lady (Boston: A. Tompkins, c. 1838) and Ellen Clifford: or the Gentle Reform (Boston: A. Tompkins and B.B. Mussey, c. 1838). She published two volumes of articles that had appeared previously in periodicals: Spring Flowers and Poetry of Woman (Boston: A. Tompkins, c. 1841). She edited the Rose of Sharon from its inception in 1840. Sarah's writing helped to put a brother through college. In July, 1846 she married the Rev. Amery D. Mayo and they had two children: Chris born in Sept., 1847, and Sarah born in April, 1848. Her poems and other writings are collected, together with a biography, in Selections from the Writings of Mrs. Sarah C. Edgarton Mayo: With a Memoir by Her Husband (Boston: A. Tompkins, 1851). It contains a poem that expresses well the Universalist concept of heaven, as a reflection of the beauty here on earth, "Types of Heaven" (pp. 134-136). Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Marcella Walker McGee (July 23, 1904-May 28, 1997) Unitarian Universalist
The daughter of a prosperous African American family, Marcella graduated from the University of Chicago High School and planned to enter Mt. Holyoke College. Instead, financial reverses necessitated her taking two years of college courses and becoming a librarian. Her racial background gave her a strong commitment to social justice. In 1945 she married Lewis Allen McGee, who entered Meadville Theological School (PA) after World War I to prepare for the ministry. Told he would never be called to a white Unitarian church, Marcella and he formed an interracial group in South Chicago known as the Free Religious Fellowship. In 1960 she was elected to the joint Alliance of Unitarian Women and Association of Universalist Women and was involved in the reorganization that united the two into the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation. She chaired the first continent-wide Leadership Conference. In 1994 she was honored with the Clara Barton Award. Her life was devoted to racial equality and social justice.
Sally Hammond McKinstry (1798-June 22, 1862) Universalist
She was born in Hudson NY, the daughter of one of the founders of the Universalist church there. Her husband, Robert McKinstry, was wealthy and served as mayor of the city. Sally took in people who were poor and destitute and housed them until other accommodations could be found. Overwhelmed by the need, she raised funds and built the Orphan Asylum in Hudson in 1850. She served as its director for the rest of her life.
Lucia True Ames Mead (May 5, 185&Nov. 1, 1936) Unitarian
This social reformer was born in Boscawen NH. When she was five, her mother died and the family moved to Chicago. At fourteen she moved to Boston to live with her brother and to study. She read widely, and devoted her energies to social reform. She strongly believed that it was women's responsibility to improve the world. She published one novel, Memoirs of a Millionaire (1889). She married Edwin Doak Mead, the editor of New England Magazine. She was an ardent supporter of women's rights and the peace movement. She proposed an international peace force to "bring miscreants to court." She endorsed the covenant of the League of Nations and served as officer for many peace organizations. A forceful and indefatigable lecturer and organizer, she served as officer for many peace organizations. At eighty she was caught in a crowd, fell and died a week later. Services were held at Boston's First Unitarian Church and she was buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery.
Mary B. Mellen (Dates unknown) Universalist
Mary showed an early interest and aptitude in painting and learned watercolors at boarding school. The only pupil of the famous marine painter, Fitz Hugh Lane, she was said to have equaled his style so that even he could not tell which was his own painting. She was the wife of the minister of the Gloucester Universalist Church (MA) (1855-1861).
Dorothea Merriman (Nov. 6. 1880-Dec. 24, 1970) Unitarian Universalist
The youngest child of Henry Wilder Foote, the fourth Unitarian minister of King's Chapel in Boston, she did not graduate from high school, but absorbed much from her relatives, among them her uncle, Charles Eliot, then president of Harvard. She challenged the governing system at King's Chapel which gave power to pew owners only and successfully restructured the church into the Society of King's Chapel with 161 founding members signing the membership book. She married Roger Merriman, professor of history at Harvard and raised five children.
Ellen E. Miles (Mar. 1, 1835-Mar. 20, 1914) Universalist
A teacher for 14 years in Waltham, Charlestown, and West Newton MA, she applied her educational expertise in religious education as co-worker in churches with her lifetime partner, the Rev. Phebe Hanaford. She wrote several dramatic pieces for Sunday school use. Although she wrote both prose and poetry for many years, she never published much until 1870, when she began to write for the Guiding Star and other Universalist periodicals. She then published two volumes of her work: Our Home Beyond the Tide and Seashore and Woodland Rambles. She also wrote a number of hymns.
Harriet Hardy Taylor Mill (1807-1858) British Unitarian
Her ideas on feminism influenced her Unitarian minister, William Fox, editor of the Monthly Repository, to become an outspoken feminist. He introduced her to John Stuart Mill, whom she also influenced and later married. She collaborated with him in writing Principles of Political Economy and On Liberty, which were pub1ished in his name. Together they fostered discussion of radical ideas about marriage in the radical Unitarian circle in which they moved. Harriet's ideas were considered the most radical, arguing that there should not be any laws concerning marriage and that women should take responsibility for their own children. Her article, "Enfranchisement of Women" (Westminster Review, 1851) was inspired by the 1850 National Women's Rights Convention in Worcester MA.
Susan Minns (Aug. 21, 1839-1941) Unitarian
The daughter of a wealthy and successful businessman, Susan was born in Lincoln MA. Her parents, Constant Freeman Minns and Frances Ann Parker Minns, maintained a country home in Princeton MA. She studied biology and botany at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a charter member of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Her life was that of a social leader who traveled, collected art, and moved in the best circles. She left part of her considerable estate to establish the Minns Lectures, an annual lecture series which continues to this day.
Maria Mitchell (Aug. 1, 1818-June 28, 1889) Unitarian
Astronomer and the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she discovered a comet in 1847. Raised in the Quaker tradition, she was strongly influenced by Unitarianism as part of her intellectual awakening. When Vassar College was founded, she was appointed Professor of Astronomy, although she had never attended college herself. Her teaching methods were radical, and she was known as a great teacher. Her diaries, lectures, notebooks, and letters are at the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association, on Nantucket Island, MA.
Harriet Russell Morison (June 1862-Aug. 19 1925) Unitarian
Born in Ireland, she moved to Dunedin, New Zealand, where her father worked as a master tailor. As she grew up, Harriet assisted him. In 1888 the Rev. Waddell preached a sermon on the evils of "sweatshop" labor which so impressed her that she participated in the organization of the Tailoress' Union of New Zealand and served as vice president. She worked to raise wages and establish standards for tailoresses. She also organized branches of the union. Harriet was a founding member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Women's Franchise League. In 1908 she was put in charge of the Women's Employment Bureau, Department of Labor. She became a member of the Unitarian Church in Aukland in 1900 and served in various capacities there.
Margaret Moseley (Aug. 11, 1901-Dec. 11, 1997) Unitarian Universalist
She grew up in Dorchester MA, in a family with African, Blackfoot, Mexican, Spanish, and other European heritage. Her wish to become a nurse was denied because of her color, in spite of having graduated from high school with top honors. She joined the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and lobbied for fair housing legislation. As President of the WILPF National Board, she fought against McCarthyism. She served as president of the Community Church of Boston. After moving to Cape Cod she founded a chapter of the NAACP, a local chapter of WILPF and was the first woman elected to the governing Board of the Unitarian Church of Barnstable. WILPF established the Margaret Moseley Memorial Peace Education Fund in her honor. She received the Fellowship of Reconciliation's national Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.
Marion Murdoch (Oct. 9, 1848-Jan. 28, 1943) Unitarian
Daughter of a Universalist mother and one of the early legislators of Iowa, she became a key member of the "Iowa Sisterhood," a group of Unitarian women ministers whose missionary work helped found and organize societies on the western frontier. She served churches in Humboldt IA, Kalamazoo MI, Cleveland OH, Geneva IL, as well as speaking in Old Boston parish in England, Kenosha WI, and Santa Cruz, Woodland, and Santa Monica CA. Her sermons were generally on reform issues, and she was known for her excellent prayers, full of poetic language and imagery. With her lifelong friend and co-minister, Florence Buck, she traveled and studied in Europe and England and participated in the women's suffrage movement. She was an active member and Recording Secretary for the Women's Ministerial Conference, a member of the Board of Trustees of Meadville Theological School (PA), and president of the League for Women in Ministry. She was one of the key speakers at the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions. Her speech, "What Did Phoebe Do?" is included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000). She delivered an address at Meadville Theological School's centennial, "Women as Students and Preachers." The Meadville/Lombard Library has a handwritten paper, delivered in 1894, "Women at Meadville." She published a book of poems, The Hermit Thrush and Other Verses (Boston: Beacon, 1924).
Judith Sargent Stevens Murray (May 5, 1751-July 6, 1820) Universalist
Married to the founder of American Universalism, she wrote one of the earliest published statements on women's rights and was the first native-born woman dramatist to have her plays professionally performed. "On the Equality of the Sexes" was first published in Massachusetts Magazine in 1790, and is reprinted in The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beauvoir, edited by Alice S. Rossi (1973). Her plays include The Medium (1795) and The Traveler Returned (1796). She also edited and co-authored a biography of her husband, Records of the Life of the Rev. John Murray Written by Himself, with a continuation by Mrs. Judith Sargent Murray (1816). She published in Massachusetts Magazine numerous poems and essays expressing her views on religion, politics, education, and the manners and customs of the day, illustrating her points with fictional narratives. These were later collected in The Gleaner (3 volumes, 1798). In 1984 the Rev. Gordon Gibson discovered her previously unknown letters and papers in Mississippi; these are now available on microfilm at the Mississippi Department of Archives, Harvard, Meadville/Lombard, and Starr King Libraries, (as well as at the Universalist church in Gloucester). The microfilms can also be purchased from the Mississippi Department of Archives.
Her letters are now being transcribed and published. See From Gloucester to Philadelphia in 1790, edited and with an introduction by Bonnie Hurd Smith (Cambridge MA: Judith Sargent Murray Society, 1998).