*You may search the site for one or multiple terms at any time using the search bar at the top right of every page.
Elizabeth Rogers Mason Cabot (1834-1920) Unitarian
Born into one prominent Boston Unitarian family and marrying into another, she taught Sunday School at Federal Street Church during Ezra Stiles Gannett’s ministry. Her diary, More than Common Powers of Perception, edited by P.A.M. Taylor (Boston: Beacon Press, 1991), provides insightful comments on her personal religious struggles and the life of the times in her circle of prominent Bostonians.
Ella Lyman Cabot (1880 – 1930) Unitarian
She was one of the authors of the new religious education curricula produced by the American Unitarian Association just before World War I, the New Beacon Series. She wrote Everyday Ethics, Ethics for Children, Temptations to Right Doing, Our Part in the World (1918), and Seven Ages of Childhood (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1921). Her comments on “the past, the present, and the future” are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Ida Maud Cannon (June 29, 1877-July 7, 1960) Unitarian
Although initially trained as a nurse, Ida went on to study sociology at the University of Minnesota and the Boston School for Social Workers. From 1907-1945, she was first Head Worker and then Chief of the Social Science Department at Massachusetts General Hospital. Best known as a founder of medical social work, she lectured at Boston University School of Social Work, the Boston School, and in New York schools of social work. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities from the University of New Hampshire and an honorary Doctor of Science from Boston University. Ida wrote two books: Social Work in Hospitals (1913, rev. 1923), On the Social Frontier of Medicine (1952), and numerous articles.
Maja Veronica Oktavec Capek (Apr. 8, 1888-Dec. 2, 1966) Czechoslovakian Unitarian
Born in Czechoslovakia, she moved to New York City with her family in 1907 and studied at Columbia University from 1908-1917. She married Dr. Norbert Capek, a Baptist minister, and together they became Unitarians In 1921, the Capeks moved to Czechoslovakia and founded a Unitarian Church in Prague with mission Stations in four other cities. Maja Capek was ordained a Unitarian minister in 1926. She was on a lecture tour in the United States when the Second World War broke out and was unable to return to Prague. During this tour she introduced the Flower Communion, which the Capeks had developed in Prague, to the United States at First Parish (Unitarian) in Cambridge MA. Her husband was seized by the Gestapo and died in the Dachau concentration camp in 1942. Maja ministered at Unity House in New Bedford MA 1940-1943. She did not learn of her husband’s death until 1945. She worked with the International Association for Liberal Christianity and Religious Freedom (now IARF). From 1944-1946, she worked for the United Nations, and from 1947-1949, for the American Relief for Czechoslovakia.
Julia A. Fletcher Carney (Apr. 6, 1823-1908) Universalist
Born in Lancaster MA, she contributed to the “Poet’s Corner” in the Boston Trumpet while still in her teens. She married the Rev. T. J. Carney in 1849 and bore 9 children. She wrote for the Christian Freeman, Rose of Sharon, Lily of the Valley, Universalist Miscellany, and Ladies’ Repository. She is the author of the well-known verse: “Little drops of water/Little grains of sand/Make the mighty oceans/And the pleasant land.” Her published books include Gifts from Julia (2 vols.), a series of Sunday school question books, and Poetry of the Seasons.
Sandra Mitchell Caron (Jan. 12, 1935-June 2, 1999) Unitarian Universalist
Born in Longview TX, Sandra attended schools in Texas and Florida. She received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas in 1955 and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from New York University in 1972. She married Joe Caron in 1955 and they both became active in the Unitarian Church of All Souls. Sandra served on the Metropolitan New York District Board and later was elected to the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees. In 1977 she was elected Moderator of the UUA, the first woman in that position. She is credited with making the Moderator’s position much more active and involved with the Associations welfare than previous Moderators had done. When her term expired, she ran unsuccessfully for the UUA presidency. Sandra represented the UUA at the United Nations Conference on Women in Kenya in 1985. She also presided over the reorganization of the Clara Barton Camp into the Barton Center for Diabetes Education, Inc. At the time of her retirement she was an Administrative Law Judge for the City of New York.
Mary Carpenter (1807-1877) British Unitarian
Abolitionist and teacher, she founded the first reformatory for girls in England. The Daughter of a Unitarian minister and teacher and influenced by Joseph Tuckerman, she began working with poor children in the 1830s, founded the Working and Visiting Society in 1835, opened a “ragged school” in 1846, and established a reformatory for boys at Kingswood in 1852 and later one for girls at Red Lodge. Her essay “Reformatory Schools for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes and for Juvenile Offenders” (1851) prompted a conference in Birmingham. In 1864 she published a book on the convict system. From 1866 to 1876 she made four trips to India and gave speeches and prepared reports on the education and status of women and on penal policy in India. In 1870 she founded the National India Association. She went on to investigate reform systems in Europe, Canada and the United States and to lecture widely. Her Reform Prison Discipline, as developed by the Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Crofton in the Irish convict prisons (1872) has been reprinted (Montclair, NJ: P. Smith, 1967). Although she remained single, she adopted a daughter in 1858. (See J. Estlin Carpenter, The Life and Work of Mary Carpenter (MacMillan and Co., London, 1879); John MacLachlan, “Mary Carpenter — Friend of the Rejected” in Our Heritage at Work (pamphlet, British Unitarian Association); J. Manton, Mary Carpenter and the Children of the Streets (1976). Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Sarah Pratt Carr (July 17, 1850-Dec. 24, 1935) Unitarian
Born in Freeport ME, Sarah moved as an infant with her family to California where she spent most of her life. Her father was one of the builders of the transcontinental railroad. Her ministry grew out of her community activism in which she worked for suffrage, education for women and improved living conditions. Her preparation for ministry consisted of independent reading under the supervision of the Rev. Charles W. Wendt. After several years in which she organized congregations and preached in Hanford, Lemoore, Visalia, and Fresno, she was ordained in 1896 at the Pacific Unitarian Conference. Later she turned to writing and published a series of popular children’s books: Billy To-morrow (1909); Billy To-morrow in Camp (1910); Billy To-morrow Stands the Test and Billy To-morrow and his Chums. Her most notable work was the novel, The Iron Way (1907) which fictionalized the building of the western railroad. It served as the basis of the libretto, “The Cost of Empire” which she wrote for her daughter’s opera, Narcissa. Biographical information may be found in Mary Carr Moore, American Composer by Catherine Smith and Richardson (1987).
Alice Cary (Apr. 26, 1820-Feb 12, 1871) Universalist
Alice and her sister, Phoebe (See below) were both writers, abolitionists, and workers for women’s rights. Their poems attracted the attention of Poe, Whittier, Horace Greeley, and Rufus Griswold, who found a publisher for their first book, Poems of Alice and Phoebe Cary (1850). Alice was the first president of Sorosis (The Women’s Club of New York): her acceptance speech is included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform 1776-1 936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000). Her writings include Clovernook, or Recollections of Our Neighbors in the West (1852), which was particularly popular in England, and Pictures of Country Life (1859). She also wrote three novels: Hagar, A Story of Today (1856), Married Not Mated(1856) and The Bishop’s Son (1867).
Phoebe Cary (Sept. 4, 1824-JuJ~ 31, 1871) Universalist
With her sister, Alice, (See above) Phoebe was a writer, abolitionist and a worker for women’s rights. Together they published Poems of Alice and Phoebe Cary (1850). Phoebe’s first articles appeared in the National Era, Washington In 1868 her Poems of Faith, Hope and Love appeared. Phoebe was assistant editor of Revolution, Susan B. Anthony’s suffrage paper.
Maude Simonton Lyon Muller-Norden Cary (Sept. 21, 1878-Dec. 23, 1937) Universalist
She received her BA from Hunter College and married a German opera singer who died shortly thereafter. Her second marriage was to Henry Montfort Cary, a Universalist minister. Maude was ordained in 1919, served churches in Sherburne VT, Madison WI, Troy and Hudson NY, and supplied others. She also held many denominational offices. In 1924, she and her husband were sent to work at the Universalist Mission in Tokyo, where they spent the rest of their lives. She wrote Reflections from the Sunrise Child.
Mary Hartwell Catherwood (Dec, 18, 1847-Dec. 26, 1902) Universalist
When Mary was about nine, the Catherwood family moved from her birthplace Luray, Licking County OH, to Milford Iroquois County IL, but when both parents died soon after, the children returned to Ohio to be raised by their grandparents Mary went to the local schools and was teaching by the time she was fourteen. Her poetry was first published in the Newark OH newspaper and the editor helped her enroll in Granville Female College. In 1871 her short story, “Peter Snubby,” won a $100 prize, and she then went to Newburgh NY to establish herself as a writer. Her first novel, A Woman in Armor (1875), was originally published as a serial in Hearth and Home Magazine. After her marriage in (1877) to James Steele Catherwood, she settled in Indiana where she became a leader of the local writers. She had a close friendship with James Whitcomb Riley. Other Writings include The Dogberry Patch (1880), Craque o`-Doom (1881), Old Caravan Days (1884), The Romance of Dollard (1889), Mackinac and Lake Stories (1899), and Lazarre (1901), among others. She was noted as a pioneer in the use of Midwestern material in fiction.
Carrie Clinton Lane Chapman Catt (Jan. 9, 1859-Mar. 9, 1947) Unitarian connections
She spent the better part of her life fighting for suffrage and was also a leader in the peace movement. In 1895, .she headed the organizing committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). When Susan B. Anthony retired from the Presidency of the NAWSA in 1900, Carrie was named her successor, although she had to resign 1904 due to poor health. In 1913-1914 She chaired the Empire State Campaign Committee and led the effort for New York’s referendum In January 1915, she joined Jane Addams in founding the Women’s Peace Party. In December, 1915, she was drafted for the presidency of the NAWSA. She served on the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense. She worked almost nonstop between the time the federal suffrage amendment passed the House (January 1918) and the Senate (June. 1919). It is due to her more than anyone else, except perhaps Susan B. Anthony. that American women got the right to vote. From 1902-23, she was the prime moving force of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. In 1919, she formed the League of Women Voters for states which had already given women the vote. From 1924-32, she served as chair of the committee on the Cause and Cure of War.
Elizabeth Parsons Channing (1818-?) Unitarian
Daughter of Unitarian minister George Gibbs Channing and niece of William Ellery Channing, in her youth she wrote a series of articles entitled “Letters from Boston” which were published in the Christian World, and two children’s stories “Adventures of a German Toy” and “Aunt Zelpeth’s Baby”. She served for 20 years on the Ladies’ Commission for Sunday-School Books, for many years as a director of the American Unitarian Association. director of the Norfolk Conference, and for 10 years on the Women’s Auxiliary Conference board. She wrote Autobiography and Diary: Gleanings of Thoughtful Life (Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1907, available on Google Books, other electronic books.)
Ruth Gibbs Channing (Dates unknown) Unitarian
She was the wife of William Ellery Channing. Her inheritance helped them finance the construction of their spacious and elegant home on Beacon Hill in Boston. next door to the home where she had previously lived with her mother and sister.
Laura Ormiston Chant (Dates unknown) British Unitarian
She was one of the first women to preach in British churches. She also traveled and spoke in the United States, and she spoke at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions. She attended the first International Council of Women in 1888 as a Delegate from the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage and the National Vigilance Association of England and addressed the Council as the delegate from the Edinburgh Branch of the Federation for Repeal of State Regulation of Vice. Her remarks were focused on the trafficking of women in the sex trade.
Augusta Jane Chapin (July 16, 1836-June 30, 1905) Universalist
An early and avid learner, she first realized her ability to teach at the age of fourteen. Unable to enter a university because of her sex, she attended Olivet College but did not receive her degree. She finally entered the University of Michigan and was awarded an AM degree in 1884. By this time she had developed her religious leanings and become a minister, traveling extensively and preaching throughout the Midwest. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1893 from Lombard College, reportedly the first woman to be so honored. She was active in several women’s organizations from the beginning: Sorosis (The Women’s Club of New York), The Association of Universalist Women, and the Association for the Advancement of Women. In 1873, she gave a paper, “Women in Ministry,” at the first meeting of AAW (published in Repository), Boston, Feb. 1874). She served on the Revising Committee of The Woman’s Bible and was a leading organizer of the World Parliament of Religions. She wrote extensively for the Universalist press, and gave many public lectures on such social and literary topics as “Temperance,” “Woman’s Work and Wages,” “Shakespeare’s Sonnets,” and “Wordsworth’s Ethics.” Excerpts from her speeches at the Universalist Centennial in 1870 and the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893 are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Maria Weston Chapman (July 25, 1806-July 12, 1885) Unitarian
An ardent abolitionist, she helped organize the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. Upon becoming their leader, she edited the annual report, Right and Wrong in Boston. She was a member of Federal Street Church and a close friend of William Ellery Channing, although she felt his coolness toward her abolitionist beliefs and support of William Lloyd Garrison. She edited the Liberator, the publication of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, as well as Harriet Martineau’s autobiography (1877). She was famous for saying: “If this is the last bulwark of freedom, we may as well die here as anywhere.” Selected anti-slavery hymns and articles are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000)
Ednah Dow Littlehale Cheney (June 27, 1824-Nov. 19, 1904) Universalist/Unitarian
Daughter of a Universalist father, Ednah was influenced early in life by beliefs in anti-slavery and women’s rights. Later, she attributed many of her attitudes to attendance at Margaret Fuller’s “Conversations” for women. Ednah’s accomplishments included lecturing at Alcott’s Concord School and establishing a school of design for women (Boston, 1851). Her activities during and after the Civil War helped send teachers from Boston to Southern cities, and she gave moral and financial support to Atlanta University and Tuskegee Institute. A moderate in her approach to women’s suffrage, she was a founder and backer of the New England Women’s Club and focused her efforts on municipal suffrage. She edited several volumes of poetry, published stories for children and memoirs of Louisa May Alcott, Susan Dimock, Lucretia Crocker, and Abby May, as well as her own Reminiscences. A member of the Free Religious Association and its president from 1903 to 1904, she stated in her memoirs that she considered herself Unitarian. Excerpts from her writing are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1 936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Harriet Vaughan Foster Cheney (Dates unknown) Canadian Unitarian
One of three literary sisters of Montreal, daughters of Helen Webster Foster and the Rev. John Foster of Brighton MA, she wrote historical fiction and poetry which appeared in The Literary Garland. With her sister, Elizabeth Cushing, she established The Snow Drop, a children’s magazine, in 1847.
Lydia Maria Francis Child (Feb. 11, 1802-Oct. 20, 1880) Unitarian
Lydia began writing at an early age and continued throughout her life. Early on, she wrote two historical novels, Hobomok (1824), about a romance between a white woman and an Indian, and The Rebels, or Boston Before the Revolution (1825), which contemporary historians mistook for fact. Then her writing took a practical turn. The Frugal Housewife (1829) summarized the lessons she had learned in careful household management. The Mother’s Book (1831) and The Little Girl’s Own Book (1831) provided helpful information, games, and advice. Concerned with political issues, she wrote The First Settlers of New England (about Native Americans) and An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833), an important early anti-slavery book which helped to attract prominent Unitarians to the cause but cost her popularity as writer. Excerpts from this book are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000). She also wrote several volumes of biographies of women: Good Wives (1833) and The History of the Condition of Women, in Various Ages and Nations (2 volumes, 1835). Other historical novels include Philothea (1836), set in the time of Pericles, and A Romance of the Republic (1867), her personal response to the Civil War. She wrote one of the earliest surveys of world religions, Progress of Religious Ideas through Successive Ages (three vols., 1855). She was editor of the New York Anti-Slavery Standard and several of her Letters from New York (2 volumes, 1852) are reprinted in The Oven Birds: American Women on Womanhood, 1820-1 920, edited by Gail Parker (NY: Doubleday and Company, 1972). See also Lydia Maria Child: Selected Letters, 1817-1880 Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982). Recent biographies are Crusader for Freedom: A Life of Lydia Maria Child by Deborah Pickman Clifford (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992) and The First Women of the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child by Carolyn L. Karcher (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995).
Mary Ann Church (Dates unknown) Canadian Universalist
Though never ordained, she was the first Universalist woman preacher in Canada. She was the wife of a doctor in Merrickville in Upper Canada where she organized a congregation.
Rebecca Parker Hull Clarke (1790-1886) Unitarian
The mother of James Freeman Clark. Caroline Dall wrote a poem about her.
Rebecca Sophia Clarke (Feb. 22. 1833-Aug. 16, 1906) Unitarian
Writer of more than forty popular volumes for children under the pen name “Sophie May,” she was considered “the Dickens of the nursery” for her ability to create believable child characters. Her “Prudy Parlin” stories appeared in the Little Pilgrim, a children’s magazine edited by Sara Jane Lippincott in Philadelphia, and were later published by Lee and Shepard in Boston as the Little Prudy series (6 vols., 1863-65). She also wrote the Dotty Dimple series (6 vols. 1867-69). Excerpts from her school diary are found in Henrietta D. Wood, Maine Library Bulletin (January. 1929).
Sarah Freeman Clarke (Jan. 21. 1808-?) Unitarian
A painter who studied with Washington Allston and taught art at Bronson Alcott’s Temple School in Boston MA, she also had a poem, “Dante,” in the first issue of The Dial. Her brother, James Freeman Clarke, was a Unitarian minister who founded the Church of the Disciples in Boston in 1841.
Dorcas Hiller Cleveland (Sept. 12, 1773-?) Unitarian
Although living in Salem and Lancaster MA, Dorcas and her husband, Richard Jeffry Cleveland, Vice Consul to Cuba, travelled extensively. An educator herself, she was involved with the Peabody sisters in the School for Young Ladies. She hosted a salon where education reformers gathered. She wrote essays on education in the Boston Advertiser (1828) and five tracts for the American Unitarian Association (1827-1829). Her two books were Fruits and Flowers and The Little Wentworths. She edited a book of poetry and quotations entitled Our Book, compiled “by the ladies who ran the fair in behalf of the destitute churches of the Unitarian faith.” (Salem, 1844)
Eunice Hale Waite Cobb (Jan. 27-1803-1880) Universalist
Born in Kennebunk ME, her father died when she was five, and she was raised by her strict and rigid Calvinist grandparents. She was ten when her mother married Samuel Locke, Esq., a school preceptor who was also a Universalist. He encouraged her to think for herself, and when she was 18 she wrote an article for the Universalist Magazine of April 12, 1821, giving an account of her conversion to Universalism. In May of 1821 she heard Rev. Samuel Cobb preach and they were married a few months later. She was an active speaker and writer in the reform movements, particularly temperance. She also wrote poetry and published a memorial of her son, James.
Frances Power Cobbe (Dec. 4, 1822-Apr. 5, 1904) British Unitarian
Enthusiastic feminist and founder of the Anti-Vivisection Society, she believed in women’s suffrage as a means of raising the moral level of society. A journalist, her pamphlet, Wife Torture (1878), proposed that wife assault be made grounds for legal separation. Her campaign influenced the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1878, which gave battered wives the right to legal separation, with support and custody of children under age 10. Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Cora Sexton Cochrane (1861-Oct. 24, 1945) Unitarian
After studying at Meadville Theological School, where she met her future husband, she was ordained in 1890. She served churches in Bath ME and Swiftwater NH, helping the congregation in Bath to raise enough money to build a church. With her husband, she organized a congregation in Bar Harbor ME, which eventually called her husband as minister. They also worked together in other congregations in Maine. In 1896, they moved to Iowa, where she served the church in Perry. In 1898. they returned east to Lexington MA, where he became the minister at the Follen Church. In 1903. she wrote “A Woman’s Sphere.”
Martha Sharp Cogan (1905-Dec. 6, 1999) Unitarian Universalist
This courageous woman left the safety of her home and family behind in the United States in 1939 to undertake a dangerous mission to Prague following the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Under the auspices of the American Unitarian Association, Martha and her husband, the Rev. Waitstill Sharp, provided desperately needed supplies to refugees and established links with other aid organizations. She established maternity hospitals for refugees and homes for displaced workers. She risked her own life to help countless children, political leaders, journalists, scientists and writers flee the Nazi threat and escape to England and the United States. She helped to send thousands of children to summer camps where they could receive medical and dental care, and she helped more than 3,500 families emigrate around the world to escape the Nazi terror. Her effort helped bring to light atrocities that freedom-loving people could not ignore, helping to lay the foundation for the Unitarian Service Committee, which she then served in Europe as the first co-commissioner.
Cordelia Thorpe Cole (Nov. 17, 1833-Apr. 29, 1900) Unitarian
She was born in Hamilton NY. Raised by her grandparents after the death of her mother, she attended the local school. After graduation she moved to Galesburg IL. She taught in Keokuk and Henry. In 1856 she met and married William R. Cole, who had recently graduated from Lombard College. They moved to Mt. Pleasant where they lived the rest of their lives. Cordelia was a founder and the first Secretary of the Iowa Conference. She helped organize the First Unitarian Church in Des Moines. At Mary Safford’s ordination in Humboldt IA in 1880, Cordelia gave the charge to the minister. She was a prominent member of the W. C. T. U. and lectured on the interdependence of social evils.
Minnie Francis Ogsbury Colegrove (Feb. 21, 1867-July 23, 1951) Universalist
She was a teacher for several years before marrying the Rev. Osgood Colegrove, a Universalist minister, in 1891. Minnie was licensed to preach in 1907 and ordained in 1924 in Waterloo IA. She assisted her husband in several churches, and they were joint pastors in Ohio, Minnesota, and Iowa. She was superintendent of Junior Education and a Young People’s Christian Union teacher in Sunday schools. She often sang in church choirs and composed most of the words and music for a songbook, Lessons From Nature’s Voices, used in many Universalist Sunday schools.
Eleanor Gertrude Collie (Dates unknown) Universalist
Ordained in 1939, she was the only ordained woman minister to serve as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army during World War II. She joined the Woman’s Army Corps in 1943 and officially served on “Special Duty” with the Chaplain’s Corps, although a congressional ruling stated that only male clergy could be accepted as chaplains. She performed all the duties of a chaplain but was not allowed to wear the chaplain’s insignia and was subject to reassignment. Released from active duty in 1948, she re-entered the Army in 1951, serving two years with the Army’s Intelligence Division and the next two and a half years with the Army Chief of Information’s Special News Service. In 1957, she was awarded a certificate of achievement for her work during the period of 1955-57 as first U.S. Army Information Section Special Projects Officer for the Reserve Forces Act.
Sarah Comins (1893-1961) Unitarian
Sarah was born in Concord NH and graduated from Smith College. Known as Sally, she was active in the Young People’s Religious Union (YPRU), organizing conferences at Star Island, editing the newsletter and traveling to advise youth groups. Her song, “Forward Shoulder to Shoulder,” became the theme song for YPRU and was sung regularly at youth gatherings for 35 years. Later she lived in Dorchester MA, where she served as president of the congregation. She served as president and wrote a history of the General Alliance of Unitarian Women. She served on the Board of Trustees of the American Unitarian Association and the Beacon Press Board. Frederick May Eliot invited her to serve on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee as the representative of the Women’s Alliance.
Wilna Livingston Constable (1888-1966) British Unitarian
Born in Scotland. she prepared for the ministry in Edinburgh at Heriot-Watt College and theUniversity of Edinburgh. After marrying the Rev. William Constable, she went with him to England where they co-pastored a Congregational church in Sheffield. Wilna was ordained at the Unitarian church in Warwick, where she served until 1929. She and her husband were sent to New Zealand by the British General Assembly of Unitarian Churches and were co-pastors there for five years. She was interested in women’s church groups and in New Zealand became vice president of the National Council of Women. She was the main influence in changing New Zealand law to allow women clergy to perform marriages. Her interest in religious education led her to establish a Junior Church in every parish she served. In later years she served in British Columbia, South Africa, and finally settled in the United States.
Maria Cook (1779-1835) Universalist
The first woman known to have preached Universalism, she was jailed for having no means of support, in spite of the fact that she was a wealthy widow. A report of her preaching is found in Nathaniel Stacey’s Memoirs (Columbus PA, 1850), reprinted in Ernest Cassara’s Universalisim in America (Boston: Skinner House, 1971).
Sarah Caroline Allen Cooney (April 12, 1861-Nov.1897) Unitarian
Born to a Unitarian family in West Newton MA, Sarah attended kindergarten, but the rest of her education came from her experiences. She accompanied her father to Boston where they heard Emerson, Longfellow, Lucy Stone and others. She also lived abroad for two years. In her twenties she taught at her father’s West Newton English and Classical School. She married Patrick H. Cooney, a lawyer, when she was 34 and moved to Natick with him, teaching temperance and suffrage there. She missed her Unitarian connections in West Newton, so she gathered a handful of friends in her home to start a new church. Speakers came from Boston and the group grew. Sarah, however, died in childbirth eleven months later.
Caroline Julia Bartlett Crane (Aug. 17, 1858-Mar. 24, 1935) Unitarian
An ordained minister and urban reformer, her speech, “What Women Can Do in Uniting the Culture and Religious Forces of Society” at the 1894 Liberal Religious Conference in Chicago, articulated her views on the importance of women’s work in reforming society. (Excerpts from this speech are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000). During her ministry, the First Unitarian Church of Kalamazoo MI built a new building and became the People’s Church, establishing the city’s first daily kindergarten, a gymnasium for women, and an educational program for adults with domestic sciences, manual training and academic courses. After another brief pastorate in Grand Rapids, she took additional courses at the University of Chicago and returned to Kalamazoo as a meat inspector, to work for reform in public sanitation regulations. In 1934 she was recognized as Kalamazoo’s First Woman Citizen. Her speeches and articles are at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
Lucy M. Gore Creamer (Mar. 27, 1842-?) Universalist
Lucy Gore was born in Milford CT, but the family shortly moved to New Haven. All during her childhood she struggled with the fear of her family and friends being condemned to eternal hell. She married Charles N. Creamer who “lost his reason” after eleven years of marriage. While dealing with his illness, Lucy heard Phebe Hanaford preach and was overwhelmed to hear her own religious beliefs being presented from the pulpit. Lucy became a Universalist and was active as a Sunday school teacher. After her husband’s death, she graduated from the New Haven Training School for Nurses and later became superintendent of the House of Mercy, Pittsfield Hospital. Pittsfield MA.
Lucretia Crocker (Dec. 31, 1829-Oct. 9, 1886) Unitarian
Born in Barnstable MA, she was educated in the Boston Public Schools. Her unusual talent for teaching was apparent early on and in 1857 she joined the faculty of Horace Mann at Antioch College in Yellow Springs OH. Returning to Boston, she assisted her former pupil, Mary L. Hall, in writing a geography text, Our World (1864). She served for many years on a committee of the American Unitarian Association which selected books for Sunday school libraries. She was the first woman to serve on the Board of the AUA, elected in 1870. In 1873 she and three other women were elected to the Boston School Committee, but were at first refused their seats by those who said women were not legally allowed to serve. This was later reversed and all the elected women served. Lucretia Crocker revolutionized the teaching of science in Boston schools by insisting on the best equipment and the latest reference works. Her Methods of Teaching Geography’ Notes on Lessons (1883) updated her ideas. She worked with the Teachers’ School of Science and the Boston Society of Natural History to improve the teaching skills of science teachers. In 1880 she was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an extraordinary tribute for one who had never been a practicing scientist.
Jane Cunningham Croly (Dec. 19, 1829-Dec. 23, 1901) Unitarian
A dedicated wife and mother, as well as a journalist, she was the first woman to write a syndicated column. It was called “Parlor and Side-walk Gossip.” Under the pen name of “Jennie June,” she was the chief staff writer of Mme. Demerest’s Mirror of Fashions for 27 years. Dedicated to the betterment of women, “Jennie June” stood for practical action. Her columns were collected into book form, Jennie Juneiana Talks on Women’s Topics, For Better or Worse, and Thrown on Her Own Resources. When the New York Press Club limited its membership to men only, she formed the Women’s Press Club which sparked the formation of many such clubs across the nation. She was also influential in the formation of Sorosis and wrote the book, Sorosis: Its Origin and History (1886). She firmly believed that financial independence was the way for women to gain equality.
Margaret Brackenbury Crook (1886-1972) British Unitarian
This British Unitarian minister was the first woman to have sole charge of a large church in England, Octagon Chapel in Norwich. She came to the US in 1920 with her family and accepted a position as Executive Secretary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. The next year she was invited to teach Biblical Literature at Smith College, where she remained for 33 years. During this time she was active in the Unitarian Churches of Northampton and Florence MA. Upon retirement, she was appointed lecturer at Manchester College in Oxford, England. Her books include The Bible and its Literary Associations (1932), The Cruel God: Job’s Search for the Meaning of Suffering (1959), and Women and Religion, published in 1964 by Beacon Press, probably the first book of feminist theology and biblical criticism in the latter half of the 20th century.
Florence Ellen Kollock Crooker (Jan. 19, 1848-Apr. 21, 1925) Universalist
First a teacher, she later received her Doctor of Divinity degree in 1875 and became a Universalist minister, greatly influenced in her career choice by Mary Livermore and Augusta Chapin. She preached in New York, Minnesota, Vermont, Iowa, and eventually Illinois. In Englewood IL she became a full-time minister and increased the congregation from under 20 to 400. After two years, she collected funds to build a church. The building was soon too small, and eight ears later a second church–The Stewart Avenue Universalist Church–was built. In 1892, she resigned and took a trip to England, where she became interested in social work. In 1893, she was called to organize a Universalist church in Pasadena CA. She stayed three years, got the church out of debt, and put it on a self-sustaining foundation. She resigned in 1895 and went to Boston to become associate minister of the Fifth Universalist or Every Day Church on Shawmut Avenue. The church gave her an outlet for her interest in social work, as it was doing work with the poor in Boston’s South End. During this time, she developed her friendship with Mary Livermore and Julia Ward Howe. In 1896, she married Rev. Joseph Crooker, a Unitarian minister. They lived first in Montana, then in New York. In 1898, they transferred a Universalist church to Unitarian at the request of the congregation. Later that year, Joseph took a position at a Unitarian church in Michigan, and Florence took charge of missionary work in that state for the Universalist Convention and the Unitarian Conference. In 1904, Florence took over a Universalist church in Jamaica Plain MA and soon found her husband a Unitarian church nearby. In 1910, when the trustees suddenly demanded her resignation without explanation, the couple traveled for several years working in short emergency pastorates before retiring in 1921. An article she published in the Sunday Post in 1914 is included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform. 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Ida Mae Robertson Cullen (Dates unknown) Unitarian
She married the famous Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen in 1940. He died unexpectedly in January 1946. Ida was the long-time leader of the Community Church Women’s Association.
Maria Cummins (Apr. 9, 1827-Oct. 1, 1866) Unitarian
In 1854, she wrote The Lamplighterand 40,000 copies sold in the first two months, 70,000 in the first year. It was published in England and translated into French and German. Among her other works are Mabel Vaughan( 1857), El Fureldis (1860) and Haunted Hearts (1864). A member of the First Church in Dorchester (MA), she sometimes taught Sunday school.
Maria Currier (19th century) Universalist
She was one of four “mill girl” sisters, at least three of whom wrote for The Lowell Offering. She was a member of the Rev. Thomas’s Improvement Circle at the Universalist Church in Lowell MA.
Ida Curry (1869-1964) Unitarian Universalist
Founder and first president of the Child Welfare League of America, she served as superintendant of children’s agencies of the New York State Charities Aid Association. She wrote for the Children’s Bureau and lectured on social welfare at New York School of Social Work and the Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
Elizabeth Lansord Foster Cushing (Dates unknown) US and Canadian Unitarian
One of three daughters of Helen Webster Foster and the Rev. John Foster of Brighton MA, she emigrated to Canada and became the prime mover in reestablishing the Montreal church in 1841-42. She wrote fiction and poetry and in 1847 with her sister, Harriet Cheney, established a children’s magazine, The Snow Drop. She later became editor of The Literary Garland.
Charlotte Saunders Cushman (July 23, 1816-Feb. 18, 1876) Unitarian
An actor with roles on both sides of the Atlantic, she was popular with the British people and the Americans. Her roles in “Macbeth,” “Henry VIII” and as Meg Merrilies were renowned. She was known for her great support of her family and was loved dearly by her public. Her letters and scrapbooks are located at the Library of Congress, the Schlesinger Library, the Beecher-Stowe Collection at Radcliffe, and in the theater collections of the NY Public Library and Harvard.
Mrs. Roger W. Cutler (Dates unknown) Unitarian
She was the author of the pamphlet, “Friendship Circles in the Church and the Home