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Caroline Wells Healey Dall (June 22, 1822-Dec. 17, 1912) Unitarian
Author and reformer, from an active Unitarian family with many ministers, she is considered a significant member of the Unitarian enlightenment. An active Sunday school teacher from an early age, she was influenced by Joseph Tuckerman to dedicate herself to relief work among Boston’s poor. From 1837 to 1842, she operated a nursery in Boston’s North End for the children of working women. Her early essays on moral and religious subjects were collected as Essays and Sketches (1849). At age 19, she was invited to attend Margaret Fuller’s “Conversations.” Her observations of these gatherings were published in Margaret and Her Friends (1895) and Transcendentalism in New England( 1897). She wrote for and helped edit various periodicals, the Boston anti-slavery annual, Liberty Bell, and a women’s journal in Providence RI, Una. Her most important work is The College, Market, and the Court; or Woman’s Relation to Education, Labor, and Law (1867). Another collection of lectures is Historical Pictures Retouched (1860), a vindication of famous women in history. Alongside (1900) is a charming memoir of her childhood. My First Holiday; or, Letters Home from Colorado, Utah, and California (1881) contains interesting biographical information. She also wrote short semi-scholarly works, such as Egypt’s Place in History (1888) and What We Really Know About Shakespeare (1886). She planned a six-volume children’s story. Patty Gray’s Journey to the Cotton Is lands, of which only three volumes were published (1869-1870). Extensive collections of her papers are at the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Schlesinger Library. Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Mabel Daniels (Nov. 27. 1877-Mar. 10, 1971) Unitarian Universalist
This talented composer was born into a musical family in Cambridge MA, and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1900. She sang in the Radcliffe Glee Club as a student and later became its director. From 1913 to 1918 she was head of the music department at Simmons College and was a fellow at the MacDowell Colony from 1914-38. Her compositions include works for chorus, orchestra, vocal soloists and small ensembles. She was a member of Arlington Street Church.
Deborah Davis (1736-1785) Universalist
She was a founder of the Oxford MA congregation.
Minnie S. Davis (Mar. 25, 1835-?) Universalist
Her parents were the Rev. S. A. Davis and Mary Partridge Davis, who were settled at Baltimore MD when she was born and also served in Hingham, Quincy and Sterling MA. When she was about six, Minnie was thrown from a carriage and her back was injured, a condition that grew more serious as the years passed. Alter attending the Green Mountain Institute, she began teaching. She also turned to writing and completed Clinton Forest; or The Harvest of Love (1859) and Marion Lester; or The Mothers Mistake. She was a frequent contributor to the Trumpet, Christian Freeman, local papers, and the Ladies’ Repository, which she also served as associate editor.
Mary Dendy (1858-1933) British Unitarian
Founder of schools for mentally retarded children, she travelled in Australia, New Zealand, America, Europe, and the British Isles, raising awareness of the need for special schooling for such children. See John McLachlan’s pamphlet, Learning as Unitarians, Essex Hall, London.
Amanda Halstead Deyo (1838-1911?) Universalist
Born in Clinton, NY, she grew up a Quaker. She graduated from Collegiate Institute, Poughkeepsie NY in 1857. She married the Rev. Charles B. Deyo, and they had two daughters. Ordained a Universalist minister in Poughkeepsie NY in 1886, she and her husband moved often. She served churches in Poughkeepsie and Oxford NY and in Scranton and Springfield PA. In 1894-1895 she organized a Universalist church in San Diego CA. She also worked with temperance groups and other social reform movements. She attended the Universal Peace Union in New York City and represented it at the World’s Congress of Representative Women. She gave a paper at the Women’s Rights Convention in Paris. Later in her life she lived in a Shaker village in Lebanon NY.
Abby Morton Diaz (Nov. 22, 1821-Apr. 1, 1904) Unitarian
Daughter of Ichabod Morton, who toured the country speaking with Horace Mann on temperance, anti-slavery and education, Abby was a teacher at Brook Farm in West Roxbury MA (1843-1847) and married there. She taught and nursed until publication of her first story in 1861 in The Atlantic Month/y. Many children’s books followed, including her most famous, The William Henry Letters (1870). She served as president of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union of Boston from 1881 to 1892, working to improve the lot of working women and women of means “physically, intellectually and spiritually.” She also took part in the women’s suffrage movement and lectured nationally. During her later years, she published pamphlets on Christian Science and other metaphysical interests.
Dorothea Dix (Apr. 4, 1802-July 18, 1887) Unitarian
Early influence of William Ellery Channing helped to shape Dorothea’s lifetime commitment to social reform. After an unhappy childhood, she came to Boston to study and opened a school for young girls. In 1825 she published Hymns for Children, an anthology of uplifting poetry, some of it her own. Turning down several offers for marriage, she chose instead the companionship of Ann Heath. A bout with Tuberculosis forced her to rest, which she did as governess for the Channing family at Narragansett Bay RI. Unable to return to teaching, she wrote Meditations for Private Hours (1828) and American Moral Tales for Young Persons (1832). A trip to England for her health brought her into contact with British reformers. A few years later, when asked to teach a Sunday school class for women in an East Cambridge jail, she discovered the work that was to become her passion for the rest of her life, prison reform and advocacy for the mentally ill. Her experiences are recorded in Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States (1845). A collection of her manuscripts is at Houghton Library, Harvard University
Sarah B. Doolittle (Jan. 19, 1840-June 18 1927) Universalist
A resident of Foxboro MA, Sarah Doolittle joined the Universalist Church in 1896. She was a very active member, serving as Superintendent of the Sunday School. She worked as librarian for many years and served as a Trustee of Boyden Library from 1882 to 1897. While attending the Universalist Convention in 1913, she heard of the need to provide “adequate care for the elderly, particularly those of the Universalist persuasion.” She offered her family home as a facility for this purpose. It was incorporated in 1915 as the Doolittle Universalist Home for Aged Persons. Now non-sectarian, it is still in operations providing total life care for residents.
Emily Taft Douglas (Apr. 10, 1899-Jan. 28, 1994) Unitarian Universalist
Emily was born in Chicago and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1920. She played the leading role in The Cat and the Canary when it was on Broadway. Becoming interested in politics, she organized and chaired the department of government and foreign policy for the Illinois League of Women Voters and served as secretary of the International Relations Center in Chicago. She served one term in the Seventy-ninth US Congress. She also served as the US Representative to UNESCO. She was an active member of All Souls’ Church in Washington DC and in 1958 she was elected moderator of the American Unitarian Association. She wrote Margaret Sanger: Pioneer of the Future (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970) and Remember the Ladies: The Story of Great Women Who Helped Shape America (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1966).
Ruth G. Downing (1898-?) Universalist
Licensed as a Universalist minister in 1927, she served in Pigeon River NC, before going to Japan as a Universalist missionary in 1929. She was the kindergarten supervisor at the Blackmer Home. When the Universalist mission closed during World War II, she joined a Catholic order in Japan.
Sarah Doyle (Mar. 25, 1830-Dec. 21, 1922) Unitarian
Sarah was educated in the Girls’ Department of Providence RI High School. She spent the next forty-five years teaching girls, first in private schools and later in the high school, serving as principal of the Girls’ Department for twenty years. She established the Rhode Island Society for the Collegiate Education of Women. In 1904 she was one of the original incorporators of the Women’s Alliance of First Unitarian Church of Providence. She was instrumental in the founding of the Rhode Island School of Design. She was active in a staggering number of women’s organizations including the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage Association, the Rhode Island Women’s Club of Providence, the Women’s Centennial Committee, and the Rhode Island State Federation of Women’s Clubs. The first woman to receive an honorary degree from Brown University (in 1894), she was then invited to head efforts to strengthen connections between Brown and its loosely-affiliated Women’s College. Through her leadership, funds were raised, Pembroke Hall was built, and Pembroke College was accepted as a department of the university. Her portrait and a bronze tablet in Pembroke Hall keep her memory alive today.
Anna Thwing Draper (1814-1870) Unitarian
She was a founder of the Hopedale MA church.
Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915) Unitarian connections
In 1852 the Scott family moved in an ox-drawn wagon from Illinois to Oregon. Abigail, aged 17, kept a diary of the beauties and the tragedies of that struggle which she later fictionalized as Captain Gray `s Company (1859). She married Ben Duniway and began life as a farm wife. When his disability necessitated her earning money and she realized how limited were opportunities for women, she began publishing the New Northwest, a weekly newspaper devoted to an agenda of women’s issues. When Susan B. Anthony visited the Northwest, Abigail traveled with her and learned the ins and outs of politics She was instrumental in achieving suffrage for Women in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Her books include her autobiography Path Breaking but the bulk of her writing was the serials published in the New Northwest and The Pacific Empire, another publication which she edited.
Harriet Farley Dunlevy (dates unknown) Universalist
Daughter of a Congregational minister, Harriet was a “mill girl” who became a member of the Rev. Abel Thomas’ Improvement Circle in Lowell MA. She served as editor of The Lowell Offering and later of The New England Offering.
Sally Barnes Dunn (1789-1858) Universalist
Youngest daughter of Rev. Thomas Barnes and sister of Lucy and Levisa, she was known as “Mother Dunn” and was an evangelist for Universalism She was a dynamic speaker who often held her listeners spellbound when she offered Universalist wisdom.
Virginia Durr (1903-1999) Unitarian Universalist
Born and raised as an aristocratic Alabama segregationist, she awakened to her intolerance when she and her husband moved to Washington, DC. She became politically active during the New Deal. In 1951 the family returned to the South where her outspoken civil rights views resulted in ostracization. Her family housed freedom riders and attended integrated gatherings She was instrumental in releasing Rosa Parks from jail. Her husband, Clifford, was the first president of the Montgomery Unitarian Fellowship.