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Cordelia Adaline Brooks Quinby (1833-?) Universalist
Born to a Universalist family in Lewiston ME, she joined the Auburn ME church in 1855. Married in 1861 to the Rev. G. W. Quinby, she was interested in religious education and served as superintendent of the Sunday school in Augusta ME [where he husband was minister 1863-1864]. She was the third president of the Woman’s Centenary Association and was appointed by the governor to the Board of Visitors to the State insane Hospital in Augusta.
Eliza Anne McIntosh Reid (1842-c. 1927) Canadian Unitarian
An active feminist, she founded the Montreal Women’s Club in 1892 and worked on behalf of prison reform, temperance, and public parks and playgrounds. She played an active role in the Unitarian Church of Montreal. She had a leadership role in the local Council of Women and served as an executive member of the Victorian Order of Nurses. In 1884, she was instrumental in obtaining $50,000 from the Hon. Donald A. Smith (later to become Lord Strathcona) to be used for the education of women at McGill University. Her daughter, Helen, was among the first women to be admitted.
Helen R.Y. Reid (Dec. 11, 1869-June 8, 1941) Canadian Unitarian
The daughter of Eliza Reid, she was in the first class to admit women to McGill University. Graduating in 1889, she won first class honors in Modern Languages and the Governor General’s Gold Medal. She had a career in active public service, including the Canadian Patriotic Fund during World War I, which earned her national and international recognition, numerous medals and distinctions. She received an LLD from McGill, the first McGill woman graduate to be honored in this way. She was instrumental in the development of the School of Social Work, where she lectured on public health. In 1918 she was selected by the Board of Governors as one of its nominees on the corporation of the University, the first woman graduate to be chosen as such. She was also the primary figure in the development of the School of Graduate Nursing.
Aurelia Isabel Henry Reinhardt (Apr. 1, 1877-Jan. 28, 1948) Unitarian
Her leadership as president of Mills College, Oakland CA, built the school into a women’s liberal arts college with a worldwide reputation. She was also a lay preacher and denominational leader who helped bring the American Unitarian Association through reorganization, serving as the first woman moderator of the AUA from 1940 to 1942. Her essay on worship (reprinted in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936, Boston: Skinner House, 2000) is said to have helped to bring the denomination together despite theological upheaval. Her ideas on theological education are also considered significant. She was an activist for peace, women’s suffrage, and governmental concerns. In 1977, Starr King School established a professorship in her honor.
Malvina Reynolds (Aug. 12, 1900-1978) Unitarian Universalist
A member of First Unitarian Church of Berkeley in Kensington CA, this writer of folk songs was born in San Francisco of immigrant parents. She produced primarily songs with a social content because she felt they were necessary. In 1934 she married Bud Reynolds, a labor organizer and radical activist. She became nationally important with the Harry Belafonte recording of her song, “Turn Around,” in the mid 1950s. Other songs which had great impact were “Magic Penny,” “Sally, Don’t You Grieve,” “Little Boxes,” and `What Have They Done to the Rain?” This last song is included in “Singing, Shouting, Celebrating Universalist and Unitarian Women,” available from the UU Women’s Heritage Society. Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger recorded much of her material. She had her own publishing firm and recording company which produced The Malvina Reynolds Songbook, Tweedles and Foodles for Young Noodles, and Funnybugs, Giggleworms, Etc.
Helen Hinsdale Rich (June 18. 1827-?) Universalist
An influential and active church member, she lost no opportunity to propagate the faith. She was a prolific writer and contributor to Rose of Sharon, Lily of the Valley, Ladies’ Repository, and other Universalist periodicals. She wrote many poems, several of which are reprinted in Eliza Hanson’s Our Woman Workers. Her prose writings include Wills, Won’ts and Can’ts of History, Literature of the Rebellion, and Madame De Stael. Her lectures include “Temperance” and “The Rights and Wrongs of Woman.”
Laura E. Howe Richards (Feb. 27, 1850-Jan. 14, 1943) Unitarian
A daughter of Julia Ward Howe, she married Henry Richards in 1871 and went to live in Gardiner ME, where she helped found the town’s first public library, the District Nurses’ Association, the General Hospital, and the Women’s Philanthropic Union. She was also president of the Maine Consumers League. She published more than 80 volumes including Captain Januarv (1890), a children’s book that sold more than 200,000 copies, Sketches and Scraps (1882), the first American book of nonsense rhymes, and her autobiography, Stepping Westward (1931). She received a Doctor of Letters from the University of Maine and continued to write up to her death.
Mary Ellen Richmond (Aug. 5, 1861-Sept. 12, 1928) Unitarian
Founder of the case work method of social work, she became a Unitarian in Baltimore MD, where she took part in social and educational activities. Discovering social work by chance when she answered an ad for an assistant treasurer of the Baltimore Charity Organization Society, she went on to become the first woman to serve as General Secretary of the Society. She became a leading advocate for professional training for charitable work. Her writings include Friendly Visiting among the Poor (1899), The Good Neighbor in the Modern City (1907), Social Diagnosis (1917), What is Social Case Work? (1922), Child Marriages (1925), and Marriage and the State (1929). Her archives are at the Columbia University School of Social Work.
Florida Ruffin Ridley (Jan. 29, 1861-Feb. 25, 1943) Unitarian
Daughter of Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, founder and leader of Negro women’s clubs, she worked with her mother to found the Woman’s Era Club in Boston and for several years served as editor of the Woman’s Era, the official journal of the Negro women’s club movement. A graduate of the Boston Normal School, she became the second African American woman to be appointed teacher in the Boston Public Schools. She was a founder of Second Unitarian Church, Brookline MA.
Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley ( July 31, 1793-July 26, 1867) Unitarian
One of the finest scholars of her day, largely sell-taught, she collaborated with her husband, the Rev. Samuel Ripley of Waltham MA in preparing boys for Harvard and in tutoring “rusticated” students. She was a valued member of Emerson’s extended family and was occasionally included in meetings of the Transcendentalist group. Her letters at the Schlesinger Library provide illuminating commentary on the Unitarian scene of her day, as well as insight into the daily struggles of an intellectual who was also parish wife, mother, and school teacher. A memoir by Elizabeth Hoar appeared in Worthy Women of Our First Century (1877), edited by Sarah Wister and Agnes Irwin. Gamaliel Bradford devoted an essay to her in his Portraits of American Women (1919). The Remarkable Mrs. Ripley: The Life of Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley by Joan W. Goodwin was published by Northeastern University Press in 1998.
Sophia Willard Dana Ripley (July 6, 1803-Feb. 4, 1861) Unitarian
Born into a distinguished New England family, Sophia married George Ripley, the Unitarian minister of the Purchase Street Church in Boston. Their home was the site of the first meeting of the philosophical group which became known as the Transcendentalists. Together they founded the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education, in which she was a tireless worker and instructor in modern languages and history. Her letters at the Massachusetts Historical Society provide important insights into the Brook Farm experiment. After the failure of Brook Farm in 1847, she and her husband moved to New York City, where she later became Catholic.
Harriet Jane Hanson Robinson (Feb. 8. 1825-Dec. 22. 1911) Universalist
A Massachusetts “mill girl,” Harriet contributed a poem to the famous monthly magazine, Lowell Offering, which attracted the attention of a militant anti-slavery journalist and Unitarian, William Stevens Robinson, whom she later married. For several years their home in Concord MA was a center of abolitionist talk. After the war she took up the cause of women’s suffrage in the company of Susan B. Anthony, and the promotion of women’s clubs with Julia Ward Howe. Among her many writings are Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement (1881); Loom and Spindle (1898); a poem, “The New Pandora” (1889); the novel, Captain Mary Miller (1887); and “Warrington” Pen Portraits (1887). Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute. Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform,1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Annette Perkins Rogers (Mar. 7, 1841-Aug. 27, 1920) Unitarian
An active member of the Church of the Disciples in Boston, she served her community as Overseer of the Poor on the State Board of Charities. She helped organize the John A. Andrew Society which sent teachers to the South after the Civil War to educate freed slaves. This was one of the organizations that eventually became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She served on the Administrative Board of the School of Social Work and on the Women’s Residence Committee. Her artistic talent led her to study painting and she collected art extensively. In her later years she became blind, but her work continued and she was a model of the will to overcome diversity. Testimonies to her life were published in In Memoriam, Annette Perkins Rogers (Thomas Todd Co., Printers, Boston MA)
Harriet Burbank Rogers (Apr. 12, 1834-Dec. 12, 1919) Unitarian
A lifelong Unitarian, she pioneered methods for teaching deaf children to speak. She served as director of the Clarke School for the Deaf, Northampton MA, the first school in the United States to focus on articulation (speech) and lipreading. Her letters and papers are at the Clarke School, and several of her addresses to the American Association to Promote Teaching of Speech to the Deaf are found in Reports of Proceedings (1896, pp. 60-65; 1912, pp. 469-72)).
Irma Louise von Starkloff Rombauer (1877-1962) Unitarian connections
Author of the most popular cookbook of the mid-twentieth century, The Joy of Cooking, she based her work on an earlier compilation gathered for a church-sponsored cooking course she gave in the 1920s at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis MO.
Amanda Lane Root (July 9, 1839-?) Universalist
Born in Gloucester MA, she was a founding member and recording secretary of the Women’s Centenary Association. She became involved in the temperance movement and was prominent in the Sons of Temperance. In 1862 she was a charter member of the Fraternity Lodge, a branch of the Good Templary, and in 1865 became a member of the Grand Lodge of the State. Later she was chosen Right Worthy Grand Vice-Templar and represented New England at many public meetings. She was married to Solomon F. Root in 1876.
Ella Giles Ruddy (1851-June 26, 1917) Unitarian
Born near Jefferson WI, she studied at the University of Wisconsin and Medford Theological College. She was an active clubwoman, a member of the Unitarian church, and a librarian. After her marriage, she moved to Los Angeles and, later, Venice CA. She founded the Los Angeles Political Equality League for woman suffrage and served as an officer until 1910. She wrote Out from the Shadows; or, Trial and Triumph (1876), cataloguing different types of American women; Maiden Rachael(1879), a testimony to spinsterhood inspired by Mary Livermore’s remarks at the 1875 meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Women: and The Mother of Clubs (1906), a biography of Caroline Severance.
Emma Sargent Russell (l889-l9~) Universalist/Unitarian
She grew up in Roslindale MA and became a social worker, activist for women’s suffrage, promoter of World peace through the League of Nations, and a public speaker for Democratic candidates during the heyday of Tammany Hall and the Great Depression. Her autobiography, The Ever-Widening Circle (Yonkers NY: Martin Russell 1983) has been donated to the UU Women’s Heritage Society collection by her daughter, F. Charlotte Suskind.