Notable Women

Gage, Frances Dana Barker

Frances Dana Barker Gage
Frances Dana Barker Gage

Frances Dana Barker Gage (October 12, 1808-November 10, 1884), a lecturer, political activist, journalist, and novelist, was an outspoken advocate of women’s rights, temperance, and abolition before and immediately after the Civil War.

Frances was born near Marietta, Ohio to frontier farmers Elizabeth Dana and Col.

Cannon, Ida Maud

Ida Maud Cannon
Ida Maud Cannon

Ida Maud Cannon (June 29, 1877-July 8, 1960) was a pioneer in the hospital social service movement which began in Boston in the first decade of the 20th century. She played a pivotal role in developing the theory and practice of medical social work during her 39 years with the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Wilkes, Eliza Tupper

Eliza Tupper Wilkes
Eliza Tupper Wilkes

Eliza Tupper Wilkes (October 8, 1844-February 5, 1917) was a circuit-riding preacher who started eleven Universalist and Unitarian churches in the American West. Among the first women ordained into the ministry, Wilkes worked with and mentored other liberal women ministers in the West.

Williams, Fannie Barrier

Fannie Barrier Williams
Fannie Barrier Williams

Fannie Barrier Williams (February 12, 1855-March 4, 1944) was an African American teacher, social activist, clubwoman, lecturer, and journalist who worked for social justice, civil liberties, education, and employment opportunities, especially for black women. A talented speaker, writer, and musician, she was welcomed in cultured white society in the North, but remained loyal to people of color, knowing that the advantages she enjoyed were not given to other blacks.

Stowe, Emily

Emily Howard Jennings Stowe
Emily Howard Jennings Stowe

Emily Howard Jennings Stowe (May 1, 1831-April 30, 1903), a path-breaking Canadian woman physician and suffragist, led campaigns to provide women access to medical schools and other professional education. Her efforts led to the organization of the woman’s movement in Canada and to the foundation of a medical college for women.

Kepley, Ada Harriet Miser

Ada Harriet Miser Kepley
Ada Harriet Miser Kepley

Ada Harriet Miser Kepley (February 11, 1847-June 13, 1925), an energetic women’s suffragist, temperance advocate, and Unitarian minister, was the first American woman to graduate from law school. A friend of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) president Frances E.

Dall, Caroline

Caroline Wells Healey Dall
Caroline Wells Healey Dall

Caroline Wells Healey Dall (June 22, 1822-December 17, 1912), author, journalist, lecturer and champion of women’s rights, was a Unitarian community service worker, minister’s wife and lay preacher. She left valuable memoirs of her elders in the Transcendentalist movement and was heir to the mantle of Margaret Fuller as spokesperson for woman’s access to education and employment.

Blackwell, Antoinette Brown

Antoinette Brown Blackwell
Antoinette Brown Blackwell

Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell (May 20, 1825-November 5, 1921), a women’s rights activist and social reformer, was the first American woman to be ordained as minister by a congregation. Always ahead of her time, she with great difficulty broke trails that other women later more easily followed.

Spoerl, Dorothy

Dorothy Tilden Spoerl
Dorothy Tilden Spoerl

Dorothy Tilden Spoerl (March 29, 1906-December 2, 1999) was a leading Universalist and Unitarian Universalist religious educator and parish minister from the time of her ordination in 1929 until well after her official retirement in 1973. In a tribute to her during his Fahs Lecture at the 1987 General Assembly, Henry Hampton said: “Thus far in her long and productive life of service, she has helped educate our children, build a denomination, save more than a few intellectual souls, and, without a doubt, she has changed the course of the world.

Barton, Clara

Clara Barton
Clara Barton

Clara Barton (December 25, 1821-April 12, 1912) was both famous and honored in her lifetime—and has a well-earned place in American history—as the angel of Civil War battlefields and founder of the American Red Cross.

Clarissa Harlowe Barton, the fifth and youngest child of Sarah Stone and Stephen Barton, was born on Christmas Day, 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts, a small farming community.

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to free parents whose names are unknown. After her mother died in 1828, Frances was raised by her aunt and uncle. Her uncle was the abolitionist William Watkins, father of William J.

Sunderland, Eliza

Eliza Jane Read Sunderland
Eliza Jane Read Sunderland

Eliza Jane Read Sunderland (April 19, 1839-March 3, 1910), the wife of a prominent Unitarian minister, was a church leader, innovative religious educator, prominent reformer, and a popular lecturer. She was one of the first women in the United States to head a public secondary school and led the way for women who followed her to become professors at public Universities.