Notable Women

Burleigh, Celia

Celia Burleigh
Celia Burleigh

Celia Burleigh (September 18, 1826-July 25, 1875) was ordained at Brooklyn, Connecticut, on October 5, 1871, the first woman to enter Unitarian ministry. Had this event not occurred, she would be remembered chiefly as a writer, editor, public speaker, and activist in a number of reform movements, preeminently women’s rights.

Fuller, Margaret

Margaret FullerMargaret Fuller (May 23, 1810-July 19, 1850) “possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.” So wrote Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in their 1881 History of Woman Suffrage. Author, editor, and teacher, Fuller contributed significantly to the American Renaissance in literature and to mid-nineteenth century reform movements.…

Brown, Olympia

Olympia BrownOlympia Brown (January 5, 1835-October 23, 1926) dedicated her life to opening doors for women. Among only a handful of women to graduate from college, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Antioch in 1860 and three years later became the first woman graduate of a regularly established theological school: St.

Chapman, Maria Weston

Maria Weston ChapmanMaria Weston Chapman (July 25, 1806-July 12, 1885) was described by Lydia Maria Child as “One of the most remarkable women of the age.” Chapman and three of her five younger sisters played vital roles in the antislavery movement. Even the smaller Weston girls were pressed into service for the cause that dominated the lives of this family.…

Adams, Abigail

Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams (November 11, 1744-October 28, 1818) advocated and modeled an expanded role for women in public affairs during the formative days of the United States. Married to John Adams, she was an invaluable partner to him as he developed his political career, culminating in the presidency of the United States.

Child, Lydia Maria

Lydia Maria ChildLydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802-Oct. 20, 1880) was a novelist, editor, journalist and scholar who produced a body of work remarkable for its brilliance, originality and variety, much of it inspired by a strong sense of justice and love of freedom.…

Ripley, Samuel and Sarah

Samuel Ripley (March 11, 1783-November 24, 1847) and Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley (July 31, 1793-July 26, 1867) played significant roles in the Unitarian movement, especially through their close connection with the Emerson family. Although the Ripleys were intimates of Ralph Waldo Emerson and friends of Boston area Unitarian ministers and transcendentalists, notice of them has been largely confined to mention in works of their better known associates.…

Martineau, Harriet

Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau

Harriet Martineau (June 12, 1802-June 27, 1876), a pioneering British journalist and writer, grew up Unitarian and was for a time a Unitarian apologist. A free trade advocate, she provided influential support for economic reform in Britain. The observational methodology she developed traveling in America was a forerunner of modern sociology.

Wood, Frances Wayland

Frances Wayland Wood
Frances Wayland Wood

Frances Wayland Wood (February 13, 1903-August 22, 1975) was a lay professional who dedicated her life to liberal religious education. She helped to renovate Unitarian Sunday School materials in the mid-twentieth century and worked as consultant to Unitarian churches across North America.

Eliot, Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams Eliot
Abigail Adams Eliot

Abigail Adams Eliot (October 9, 1892-October 29, 1992) was a pioneer of the nursery school movement. She is best known for her work with young children and in teaching other people to work with young children.

As her name suggests, she was a member of two of the most illustrious Unitarian families of New England: the Adamses and the Eliots.