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American Women's Foreign Mission Boards, 1800 to 1938: Over a Century of Organizing Denominationally, Ecumenically, Transnationally

By Barbara Reeves-Ellington

Siena College

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   Throughout the year 1910-1911, American women commemorated the fifty-year anniversary of women's separate organizing for foreign missions with jubilee fêtes in cities across the United States. They celebrated a broad-based ecumenical organization comprising forty administrative boards that incorporated more than fifty-seven thousand missionary societies and auxiliaries and raised over three million dollars that year. Sales of Helen Barrett Montgomery's Western Women in Eastern Lands, written for the occasion, surpassed one hundred thousand copies. [1] In New York City alone, committee members organized lunch for six thousand women. In a foreword to an account of that year, The Story of the Jubilee, Lucy Peabody, Chairman of the Central Committee for the United Study of Missions, described the New York City event as "the greatest meeting ever held by women."[2]

   Over the past four decades, historians have discovered what Lucy Peabody knew: The women's missionary enterprise was one of the earliest and largest social reform movements in the United States. The movement attracted evangelical women whose religious faith spurred them into the public sphere to promote Protestant forms of Christianity at home and abroad.[3] It offered conservative women a less radical form of activism than abolition or suffrage. This essay explores the relevance of women's missionary organizing as an American social movement and as a vector for the global spread of American religious culture. While highlighting several sources in the WASM International database, the essay outlines some of the key approaches to writing about the history of American women in mission.

The scope and size of the American women's missionary movement

   Documents in the WASM International database allow us to construct a brief sketch of the rapid growth of the women's missionary movement from 1800 to 1938. They show that the movement expanded from its isolated local origins to a global endeavor of interconnected transnational organizations. In size and significance, the women's missionary movement rivaled women's organizations in other spheres of activity.

   Three main phases characterize American women's activities in the foreign missionary enterprise from 1800 to 1938. Women initially organized as participants in the widespread enthusiasm for voluntary associations and transatlantic evangelical revivalism in the early-nineteenth century.[4] The document A Brief Account of the Origin and Progress of the Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes dates the origins of women's organizing for mission to 1800, when Baptist and Congregationalist women banded together to raise funds to support male missionaries on the New England frontier.[5] Women across the northeastern United States promptly followed their example. In her "History of Woman’s Organized Missionary Work as Promoted by American Women," Ellen Parsons of the Woman's Board of Missions noted that, as early as 1839, 680 female societies actively collected funds for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (American Board) alone.[6] In small, local societies they represented a significant fund-raising arm for male-dominated state, national, and international missionary activism.

   Most histories of women's separate boards date their separatism to 1861, when Mrs. Sarah Doremus founded the Woman's Union Missionary Society (WUMS) in New York City.[7] [Neighbors in Christ WASMI ] Increasingly dismayed by the lack of recognition from men for their work, women organized to support their own global agendas to evangelize and educate women and children around the world. WUMS was an ecumenical organization, but the impetus for separate women's boards came from the denominations. After the founding of the Woman's Board of Missions of the Congregational Church in Boston in 1868, women in other major denominations swiftly followed suit, most prominently Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Dutch Reformed. By 1893, thirty-three American women's boards existed across the United States.[8] Ellen Parsons described the trajectory of change from 1800 to 1893 as "a history of a disciplined army developed in place of volunteer pickets."[9]

   Parsons read her report at the 1893 World's Fair Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where American, British, and Canadian women had organized a transnational gathering to promote their work in missions. Their choice of venue is indicative of the strength of their global enterprise and their perceptions of themselves as global actors. This transnational phase began in 1888 when American women met their British and Canadian counterparts in London. There they founded their first international agency, the World's Missionary Committee of Christian Women, through which they launched, at the Ecumenical Conference in New York in 1890, a successful publishing program, the Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions (CCUSFM), which published, among other successful ventures, Montgomery's best-seller Western Women in Eastern Lands.

By the time of its jubilee, the women's missionary movement boasted a membership of at least two million women.[10] That number exceeded the separate membership counts of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Woman's Suffrage Association, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). At home, according to historian Patricia Hill, the women's missionary enterprise surpassed the WCTU "in size and breadth and depth of local organization."[11] Women's international activism in missions continued along denominational lines and through transnational ecumenical collaboration until women's boards merged back into male-dominated missionary societies, a process that was largely complete by 1938, when the CCUSFM issued its last publication.

   While women on the home front organized to support the work of missions, women who wished to serve as missionaries abroad could achieve their ambition (with rare exceptions) only as wives until the 1860s. The reluctance of male boards to appoint single women missionaries was a major impetus toward women's separatism in 1861. After this date, women's boards began to support single women abroad. As wives, women always represented at least half of the missionary force. At the height of the missionary movement, according to historian Jane Hunter, nearly two-thirds of all American missionaries working overseas were women, married and single.[12] The foreign missionary enterprise itself, then, was largely a female endeavor.

Historical scholarship on women in mission

   Modern scholarship on American women missionaries began with the new social history in the late 1960s as historians asked questions about the significance of religion in women's lives and the ways in which religion shaped women's agency. In the past forty years, historical scholarship on women missionaries and their sponsoring organizations falls, if not always neatly, into three main categories, and sometimes across all three: works that use a feminist perspective to gain insights into evangelical women's culture in the United States; works that adopt gender as a category of analysis to illuminate the ways in which evangelical women's culture was projected overseas and the ways in which mission structures limited or broadened women's opportunities; and works that add a transnational approach to emphasize the influence of local environments on the projects of women missionaries, their boards, and women converts. These categories are not mutually exclusive, and they do not encompass all the available scholarship. Nor do the books discussed within these categories exhaust the scholarship on women's missionary activism. Taken together, however, they trace the contours of evangelical women's transnational activism to promote women's causes around the world, highlight the significance of women's activism to the global spread of American Protestant culture in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, and illuminate some of the global responses to American cultural expansion.

   Evangelical women's culture

   Works that explore missionary activities to examine evangelical women's culture have shaped enduring, and conflicting, narratives about the achievements of women missionaries and their institutions. In his celebratory account of the institutional history of the women's missionary movement over 160 years, All Loves Excelling: American Protestant Women in World Mission (1968), R. Pierce Beaver portrayed successful female organizers whom, in a subsequent edition of his work (1980), he described as participants in "the first feminist movement" in North America.[13] According to Patricia Hill, however, in The World Their Household: The American Woman's Foreign Mission Movement and Cultural Transformation, 1870-1920 (1985), it was precisely the competent professionalism of women managers that contributed to the demise of independent women's mission boards as managers lost touch with their rank-and-file members in local churches and lacked the grassroots support to resist merger with male institutions in the 1920s.[14]

   Hill argued that Beaver's feminist label for the women's missionary movement was inaccurate. She suggested that he could use the label only by ignoring the arc of women's history and the radical changes in women's lives and American culture from 1800 to 1970.[15] Now that scholars are open to a broad range of feminisms, rather than a singular feminism, historians might want to reconsider the feminist credentials of some of the leaders of the women's missionary movement if not the movement as a whole. Kendal P. Mobley has done precisely that in Helen Barrett Montgomery: The Global Mission of Domestic Feminism (2009).[16] His book confirms the important intellectual contributions of this Northern Baptist to the women's ecumenical missionary movement and the broader American culture in which it operated, while highlighting women's constant struggles against male domination and men's resistance to power sharing in mission.

   More important than labels is the recognition by scholars of the constant gender wars for power, resources, and status in the missionary enterprise. In American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice (1997), Dana Robert exposed the difficulties women missionaries experienced to be recognized as mission theorists as well as practitioners.[17] Robert argued convincingly across time, space, and denominations that women in the missionary movement contributed to shaping missionary policy in the broader male-dominated societies and institutions in which they lived and worked but constantly had to defend against male challenges to control their work, subordinate their activities to male priorities, and subsume their identity under male boards.

   Individual standpoints can go some way to explaining the different perspectives offered by these authors, but purpose, scope, and source bases offer more relevant points of departure. Beaver focuses on the institutional records of the various missionary organizations, from their local Boston origins to their transnational ecumenical conferences. Hill relies heavily on the official publications of three women's foreign mission societies—Life and Light for Women (Congregationalists), Heathen Woman's Friend (Methodists, North) and Woman's Work for Woman (Presbyterians, North), which tend to downplay tensions within the missionary enterprise. Not surprisingly in his biography, Mobley emphasizes Montgomery's writings, particularly those she penned for the CCUSFM. For her part, Robert employs all these sources plus, for the first period of women's organizing, memorials to female missionaries.

   Memorials have provided important insights into antebellum evangelical culture as well the experiences of individual missionaries.[18] Exceedingly popular reading in the mid-nineteenth century, memorials were literary tributes celebrating the life, work, and death of female missionaries. They offered evangelical women an alternative model for activism to the more radical abolitionists and women's righters of the age. Overtly hagiographical, antebellum memorials were based on the correspondence of dead women missionaries (no living missionary was memorialized), which initially led to particularly gloomy narratives of religious devotion, self-sacrifice, and martyrdom, as, for example, in Barbara Welter's albeit skeptical analysis in "She Hath Done What She Could: Protestant Women's Missionary Careers in Nineteenth-Century America" (1978).[19] Subsequently, Joan Jacobs Brumberg examined the memorials of the three wives of Adoniram Judson to emphasize the significant contributions of Anne Hasseltine, Sarah Hall Boardman, and Emily Chubbock to the critical work of writing, translating, and promotion that was such a prominent feature of missionary work in Mission for Life: The Judson Family and American Evangelical Culture (1984).[20] Lisa Joy Pruitt explored the ways in which ideas about gender and non-Christian women in memorials shaped what many scholars recognize as an "orientalist" missionary culture and policy in A Looking-Glass for Ladies: American Protestant Women and the Orient in the Nineteenth Century (2005).[21] In a groundbreaking reassessment of female memorials in her essay, "Canonizing Harriet Newell: Women, the Evangelical Press, and the Foreign Mission Movement in New England, 1800-1840" (2010), Mary Kupiec Cayton argued that narratives about the lives of women missionaries exerted an extraordinary impact on women's financial and organizational contributions to the global missionary endeavor in the first half of the nineteenth century.[22]

   In contrast to antebellum memorials with their emphasis on sacrifice, the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century writings of women missionaries offer more optimistic views of missionary work. In some instances, they have become part of the canon in the genre of American travel-writing.[23] Private letters, diaries, travelogues, and the correspondence of women missionaries with their boards offer historians the evidence to show how American culture shaped women's writings and how missionaries represented their lives and experiences in writing. For example, in Educating the Women of Hainan: The Career of Margaret Moninger in China, 1915-1942 (1995), Kathleen Lodwick organized Moninger's private correspondence with her family to reconstruct her life in China.[24] In contrast, Sarah Robbins and Ann Ellis Pullen used Nellie Arnott's public writings (including circular letters to friends) to show how Arnott developed as a writer. In Nellie Arnott's Writings on Angola, 1905-1913: Missionary Narratives Linking Africa and America (2011), Robbins and Pullen do not hesitate to characterize Arnott's work as part of a colonial enterprise.[25] Their point, however, is to show, through a careful analysis of her writings, that Arnott's experiences in Angola enabled her to develop her authorial voice, contribute to building an important female literacy network in the United States, and shape the imagination of new constituencies of mission supporters for Africa.

   Projection of evangelical women's culture overseas

   Three prominent works among studies that have used gender to examine the projection of women's evangelical culture abroad are Jane Hunter's The Gospel of Gentility: American Women Missionaries in Turn-of-the Century China (1984), Patricia Grimshaw's Paths of Duty: American Missionary Wives in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii (1989), and Amanda Porterfield's Mary Lyon and the Mount Holyoke Missionaries (1997).[26] Hunter, Grimshaw, and Porterfield offer rich portraits of women's everyday lives as they took up the challenge to transplant their evangelical Protestant culture in China, Hawaii, and, in Porterfield's book, Persia, India, and South Africa. Central to all three books is the ideal of American domesticity. Each author explores the way in which the demands of domestic life and the gendered dimensions of missionary society shaped women's interactions with male missionaries and female proselytes and constrained or facilitated their efforts to participate in the work of evangelization. Hunter, Grimshaw, and Porterfield respect their subjects but raise questions about the ethnocentric hubris that shaped the perceptions of women missionaries about other people, their desire to convert them, and their goal to transform cultures. Historians have posed similar questions about the interactions of American women missionaries with women deemed "foreign" within the United States, for example, Peggy Pascoe's study of women missionaries and Chinese women in the American West, Susan Yohn's work on women missionaries and Mexican women in the American southwest, and Julie Roy Jeffrey's portrait of Narcissa Whitman among the Cayuse Indians in Oregon.[27]

   Questions about the missionaries' ethnocentricity contributed to a scholarly debate already in progress about whether or not missionaries were cultural imperialists. The debate continues to reverberate, spurred on by studies such as Jean and John Comaroff's prominent work Of Revelation and Revolution (1991), which argued that missionaries supported the British colonial order by colonizing the consciousness of the people among whom they worked, and Amy Kaplan's influential essay "Manifest Domesticity," which makes the case that women's domestic culture legitimated imperialist projects by placing the home at the center of national life during a period of U.S. continental expansion.[28] The debate has evolved, however, from an understanding of missionary encounters as a unidirectional exercise of power to the detriment of target groups. It has moved toward recognition of the importance of everyday struggles to exercise power, mold identity, and influence change among multiple groups of individuals caught up in the missionary encounter.[29] This shift requires an adjustment of views shaped by focused readings of the missionary archive and compels scholars to read against the grain of mission reports, examine the influences of the host environment, and incorporate research in foreign-language archives alongside mission records.

   One example of the ways in which missionaries were influenced by their experiences in the host environment is offered by Karen Seat in "Providence Has Freed Our Hands": Women's Missions and the American Encounter with Japan (2008).[30] Viewing the transformations experienced by some missionaries as a result of their contacts with individuals in Japan, Seat traces an emergent movement within the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church to confront the ethnocentric dictates of their culture. One direct result of this movement was a challenge to immigration laws that discriminated against Asians in the United States in the early twentieth century. Sylvia Jacobs has also highlighted the competing influences of home and host environment on missionaries by demonstrating just how complex negotiations of race and identity could be for African American missionaries who worked among black Africans of the Congo Free State at the height of European imperial expansion in Africa.[31] In her essay, "Three African American Women Missionaries in the Congo, 1887-1899: The Confluence of Race, Culture, Identity, and Nationality" (2010), Jacobs argued that African American women missionaries recognized some commonalities with African women; but American culture had previously shaped their perceptions of Africa, and their experiences in Africa confirmed that they were Americans first and foremost. Both Seat and Jacobs offer examples of the ways in which the history of women's missionary activism intersects with other major themes in American history, including the history of race formation.[32]

   Transnational approaches to the women's missionary movement

   Other works that have examined the projection of evangelical women's culture abroad have demonstrated that missionary encounters could result in welcome new social configurations in local environments. For example, Maina Chawla Singh's Gender, Religion, and the "Heathen Lands": American Missionary Women in South Asia, 1860s-1940s (2000), Noriko Ishii's American Women Missionaries at Kobe College, 1873-1909: New Dimensions in Gender (2004), and Hyaeweol Choi's Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways (2009) show that local culture, while challenged through missionary encounters, remained remarkably resilient.[33] Individuals who encountered missionaries in diverse settings adapted to the thrust of new ideas, rearticulated missionary messages to provide new meanings for their own lives, and contributed to shaping missionary projects.

   Singh draws on interviews with South Asian women who appreciated their education at mission schools and colleges founded by American women missionaries, recalled fond memories of their teachers, and acknowledged the improvement in social and professional status that came with the advantages of a mission education. In contrast, Ishii mines American and Japanese records pertaining to Kobe College to examine the ways in which American women struggled to accommodate competing American and Japanese ambitions and eventually lost control of their institution to Japanese interests. In the process, however, American and Japanese women were changed. Charlotte B. DeForest, long-term president of Kobe College, willingly compromised some American values to Japanese values to perpetuate the legacy of the institution she cherished. Japanese graduates acquired the accoutrements of "western" education that ushered them into elite Japanese society. For her part, Choi explores the multiple negotiations among various social groups, including missionaries, Korean male intellectuals, and the first generation of publicly-educated Korean women, to articulate the ideal of modern womanhood in Korea during the years of colonization by Japan. Exploring the complex dynamics of the missionary encounter against a background of Japanese colonialism and Korean nationalism, Choi highlights discussions about the place of modern women within the competing discourses of American domesticity and Confucian gender ideals in a setting in which Koreans viewed the Japanese but not Americans as imperial agents.

   Singh, Ishii, and Choi confirm that neither the concept of cultural imperialism nor postcolonial theories of oppression and resistance can explain all missionary encounters. This is not to deny that most missionaries believed in the superiority of their race and religion and aggressively pursued activities through which they intended to transform other cultures. It is to look more carefully at the processes through which they projected American power across the globe, how that power was negotiated by individuals and communities caught up in the encounter, what changes occurred in the local environment, and how those changes were refracted in the United States.

   The studies of Singh, Ishii, and Choi represent examples of the first wave of the most recent research on women missionaries—scholarship that adopts a transnational approach to emphasize the influence of local environments on the projects of women missionaries and their boards. A collaborative venture of a group of international, interdisciplinary scholars has confirmed the advantages of viewing global patterns through the lens of local encounters in Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812-1960.[34] With access to multilingual sources, the authors in this volume showcase non-American actors who frequently reconfigured missionary projects to their own ends and contributed to outcomes that could not be easily predicted. The authors also show that, while women missionaries contributed to American cultural expansion, they also, as a result of their experiences negotiating foreign cultures, joined movements to challenge the imperial reach of the United States.

New trends in scholarship

   In the near future, we can expect to see several new trends in scholarship on women's missionary activism as new research questions shape approaches to transnational history. How did women missionaries and women's board officers interact with women in other organizations to promote causes, such as temperance, peace, women's rights, and child welfare that cut across organizational and national divides? How did American women missionaries work with women missionaries of other nationalities in foreign locations and in their transnational ecumenical organizations? Why were American women apparently unable to resist merger into the male denominational boards in the 1920s? How did women in the local environments where women missionaries worked contribute to the missionary enterprise, challenge it, or reshape their own society as a consequence of their interactions with missionaries? What regions of the world have been understudied and how might the missionary map be redrawn?

   Ian Tyrrell has demonstrated the value of exploring broader transnational Protestant networks in Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire (2010).[35] In Tyrrell's view, women missionaries were among those Americans who participated in the interlocking transnational reform groups that were central to the development of American global power as Americans sought leadership roles in voluntary associations across the world. Studies of cross-organizational and international cooperation would help us to see that women missionaries were not isolated conservatives but worked with women in other associations on issues of joint concern. See also Tyrrell’s essay on the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union in this database.

   Second, comparative studies of British, Canadian, and American women's activism present another fruitful area of research. Although several anthologies have incorporated studies of missionaries of different nationalities, no concerted attempt has been made to bring the Anglo-American missionary enterprise into one analytical field.[36] As American and Canadian women frequently operated within geographic areas under British imperial rule, such comparisons can illuminate the intersections of gender and nation across empires.

   Memorials offer opportunities to examine the ways in which American and British were portrayed and how they negotiated their evangelical and national identities as they sometimes cooperated and sometimes competed in missionary work around the world. Sources in the WASM International database offer interesting insights into the rivalry and emulation experienced between American and British women missionaries. For example, in her Memoirs of British Female Missionaries: With a Survey of the Condition of Women in Heathen Countries Jemima Thompson in 1841 described British memorials as "by no means inferior, and in some particulars they even surpass, those delightful memoirs of Mrs. Newell and Mrs. Judson, the devoted American Missionaries."[37] Half a century later, Ellen Parsons noted that English and Scottish women organized before American women; yet "we have caught up with them since."[38]

   Third, we should expect to see more studies that take a broad view of the so-called "demise" of the women's boards as they merged with the male dominated board in the 1920s and 1930s. As a committee charged with examining the place of women in churches and missions reported in "Changing Leadership: A Report from American Mission Stations Regarding the Place of Women in National Churches," the focus and value of women's work in mission was much discussed in the 1920s.[39] Dana Robert has challenged Patricia Hill's argument that professionalism of the women's boards contributed to their demise as they lost grassroots support. According to Robert, this view is too narrow and ignores the constant battles that women had with the men's boards.[40] Noriko Ishii also believes that the view is too narrow as it neglects the influence of the local environments in which women missionaries worked.[41] A study that takes in these and other perspectives is long overdue. Biographies of some of the more prominent officers of the women's boards, and also notable women missionaries who served abroad for decades, are likely to offer a reinterpretation of women missionaries' feminist credentials and offer new explanations for the apparent inability of women's missionary organizations to resist their forced mergers in the 1920s and 1930s.

   Fourth, as an inevitable consequence of the recent focus on transnationalism, we can expect to see more studies about the contributions to intercultural dialogue of those women around the world who mixed with America missionaries and, whether or not they became converts, operated as cultural mediators between missionary communities and their local environments. Pui-lan Kwok discussed the contributions of Chinese women to the development of local Christianity in China in Chinese Woman and Christianity, 1860-1927 (1992). Wendy Urban-Mead and Deborah Gaitskell spearheaded a welcome exploration of the work of Bible women with a variety of American and European missions in colonial and non-colonial settings that highlighted the important work of the local people on whom missionaries depended to spread Christian teachings.[42] New books that add valuable insights in this area include Connie Shemo's The Medical Ministries of Kang Cheng and Shi Meiyu: On A Cross-Cultural Frontier of Gender, Race, and Nation and Urban-Mead's The Gender of Piety: Intersections of Faith and Family in Matabeleland Zimbabwe since 1910.[43]

   Finally, although this fifth item does not exhaust the possibilities, we can expect to see more studies that expand the chronological, spatial, and denominational dimensions of scholarship on the women's missionary movement. Women in faith missions after the Second World War, women's missionary work in Central and South America, and the extensive missionary enterprise in the Near and Middle East have all been relatively neglected. The Near East in particular was a significant focus of American women's missionary organizations in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, particularly for Congregationalists. As the Woman's Board of Missions (Boston) reported in its publication Our World-Wide Work: A Survey of the Field of the Woman’s Board of Missions, forty-five of their missionaries worked in Turkey and the Balkans on the eve of the First World War. That number represented fully one third of its one hundred and thirty-eight missionaries stationed worldwide and was twice the size of the next largest contingent of twenty-one missionaries in India.[44] Interestingly, a new generation of scholars is returning to antebellum memorials to offer comparative assessments of the portrayal of women missionaries and their work by American society and by societies in the Near East.[45]

   These new directions in the study of American women missionaries will lead to reassessments of the interactions of American women missionaries with women in other cultures, women in other (non-missionary) international organizations, and women missionaries of other nationalities. They will also provide more detailed maps of the extension of Anglo-American evangelical and imperial culture abroad, tracing the increasingly complex contributions of women missionaries and local women to ideas about gender, race, and nation and to the discourses of nationalism, imperialism, and anti-imperialism across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the process, they will make important contributions to several fields of scholarship, including women's history, U.S. history, American religious history, and the new transnational history.

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Notes

[1] Central Committee, The Story of the Jubilee, 6.; Helen Barrett Montgomery, Western Women in Eastern Lands: An Outline Study of Fifty Years of Woman's Work in Foreign Missions (New York: Macmillan, 1910).

[2] Central Committee, The Story of the Jubilee, 8.

[3] Within the time-frame of this essay, the American foreign missionary movement was overwhelmingly Protestant. American women joined the Protestant missionary enterprise even as the United States continued to be a mission field for the Catholic Church and European Catholic nuns established convents and schools across North America. The contributions of Catholic women represent a significant aspect of American religious and cultural expansion that deserves a separate treatment. A comparative analysis of Protestant and Catholic women in a variety of mission fields would also be welcome. For a general overview of American Catholic missions, see Angelyn Dries, The Missionary Movement in American Catholic History (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998). For recent works that show how nuns shaped life in the United States, see see Emily Clark, Masterless Mistresses: The New Orleans Ursulines and the Development of a New World Society, 1727-1834 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007); Carol K Coburn and Martha Smith, Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999). For scholarship on American Catholic women missionaries abroad, see, for example, chapters 7 and 8 of Dana Robert, American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1996).

[4] Conrad Edick Wright, The Transformation of Charity in Postrevolutionary New England (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992); Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997). For an overview of women's organizational power and policy in the missionary movement, see R. Pierce Beaver, All Loves Excelling: American Protestant Women in World Mission (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W. B. Eerdmans, 1968) and Dana L. Robert, American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1997).

[5] A Brief Account of the Origin and Progress of the Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes with Extracts from the Reports of the Society, in May, 1817 and 1818, and Extracts from the Reports of Their Missionaries, Rev. James Davis and Rev. Dudley D. Rosseter. (Boston: Lincoln & Edmands, 1818.)

[6] Ellen C. Parsons, "History of Woman's Organized Missionary Work as Promoted by American Women," in Woman in Missions: Papers and Addresses Presented at the Woman's Congress of Missions, October 2-4, 1893 in the Hall of Columbus, Chicago, ed. E.M. Wherry (New York: American Tract Society, 1894), 85.

[7] See, for example, Ida Withers Harrison, Forty Years of Service: A History of the Christian Woman's Board of Missions, 1874-1914 (Indianapolis, IN: Christian Woman's Board of Missions, 1914); Grace Emeline Tinker Davis, Neighbors in Christ: Fifty-Eight Years of World Service by the Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior (Chicago, IL : Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior, 1926). Records give the date as 1860 and 1861. Mrs. Doremus organized WUMS in November 1860. The organization was incorporated in February 1861.

[8] Parsons, "History of Woman's Organized Missionary Work," 94-96.

[9] Parsons, "History of Woman's Organized Missionary Work," 84.

[10] Montgomery, Western Women in Eastern Lands, 244.

[11] Patricia Hill, The World Their Household: The American Woman's Foreign Mission Movement and Cultural Transformation, 1870-1920 (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1985), 195, note 1.

[12] Jane Hunter, The Gospel of Gentility: American Women Missionaries in Turn-of-the Century China (New Haven: Yale University Press 1984), xiii.

[13] Beaver, All Loves Excelling, 1968; American Protestant Women in World Mission: History of the First Feminist Movement in North America, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W. B. Eerdmans, 1980).

[14] Hill, The World Their Household.

[15] Ibid., 194.

[16] Kendal P. Mobley, Helen Barrett Montgomery: The Global Mission of Domestic Feminism (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2009).

[17] Robert, American Women in Mission.

[18] Several memorials are available on Google Books, including A.P. Cumings, The Missionary's Daughter: A Memoir of Lucy Goodale Thurston, of the Sandwich Island (New York: American Tract Society, 1842); George David Cummins, Life of Mrs. Virginia Hale Hoffman: Late of the Protestant Episcopal Mission to Western Africa, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1859); James D. Knowles, Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Late Missionary to Burmah: Including a History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire (Boston: Lincoln & Edmands, 1829); Margarette Woods Lawrence, Light on the Dark River; or, Memorials of Mrs. Henrietta A.L. Hamlin, Missionary in Turkey (Boston: Ticknor, Reed & Fields, 1854).

[19] Barbara Welter, "She Hath Done What She Could: Protestant Women's Missionary Careers in Nineteenth-Century America," American Quarterly 30, no. 5 (1978): 624-38.

[20] Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Mission for Life: The Judson Family and American Evangelical Culture (New York: New York University Press, 1984).

[21] Lisa Joy Pruitt, A Looking-Glass for Ladies: American Protestant Women and the Orient in the Nineteenth Century (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2005).

[22] Mary Kupiec Cayton, "Canonizing Harriet Newell: Women, the Evangelical Press, and the Foreign Mission Movement in New England, 1800-1840," in Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission, Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812-1960, edited by Barbara Reeves-Ellington, Kathryn Kish Sklar and Connie Shemo (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010), 69-93.

[23] See, for example, Welthy Honsinger Fisher, Beyond the Moon Gate, Being a Diary of Ten Years in the Interior of the Middle Kingdom (New York: Gay and Hancock, 1925); Clara Swain, A Glimpse of India: Being a Collection of Extracts from the Letters Dr. Clara A. Swain, First Medical Missionary to India of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America (New York: James Pott & Company, 1909).

[24] Kathleen L. Lodwick, Educating the Women of Hainan: The Career of Margaret Moninger in China, 1915-1942 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995).

[25] Sarah Robbins and Ann Ellis Pullen, Nellie Arnott's Writings on Angola, 1905-1913: Missionary Narratives Linking Africa and America (Anderson, South Carolina: Parlor Press, 2011).

[26] Hunter, The Gospel of Gentility; Patricia Grimshaw, Paths of Duty: American Missionary Wives in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989); Amanda Porterfield, Mary Lyon and the Mount Holyoke Missionaries (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[27] Julie Roy Jeffrey, Converting the West: A Biography of Narcissa Whitman (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991); Peggy Pascoe, Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Susan M. Yohn, A Contest of Faiths: Missionary Women and Pluralism in the American Southwest (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995).

[28] Jean and John Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution vol. I.Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991); Amy Kaplan, "Manifest Domesticity," American Literature 70, no. 3 (1998): 581-606.

[29] See, for example, Ryan Dunch, "Beyond Cultural Imperialism: Cultural Theory, Christian Missions, and Global Modernity," History and Theory 41(2002): 301-25; Andrew Porter, Religion Versus Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700-1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004).

[30] Karen Seat, "Providence Has Freed Our Hands": Women's Missions and the American Encounter with Japan (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008).

[31] Sylvia Jacobs, "Three African American Women Missionaries in the Congo, 1887-1899: The Confluence of Race, Culture, Identity, and Nationality," in Competing Kingdoms, 318-41.

[32] In this connection, see also Derek Chang, Citizens of a Christian Nation: Evangelical Missions and the Problem of Race in the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).

[33] Maina Chawla Singh, Gender, Religion, and the "Heathen Lands": American Missionary Women in South Asia, 1860s-1940s (New York: Garland Press, 2000); Noriko Ishii, American Women Missionaries at Kobe College, 1873-1909: New Dimensions in Gender (New York: Routledge, 2004); Hyaeweol Choi, Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).

[34] Reeves-Ellington, Sklar, and Shemo, eds. Competing Kingdoms.

[35] Ian Tyrrell, Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).

[36] See, for example, Mary Taylor Huber and Nancy C. Lutkehaus, eds., Gendered Missions: Women and Men in Missionary Discourse and Practice (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press,1999); Leslie A. Flemming, ed. Women's Work for Women: Missionaries and Social Change in Asia (Boulder: Westview Press, 1989); and the special issue of Comparativ Zeitschrift für Globalgeschicthe und vergleichende Gessellschaftsforschung 17, no. 5/6 (2007)

[37] Jemima Thompson, Memoirs of British Female Missionaries: With a Survey of the Condition of Women in Heathen Countries (London: W. Smith, 1841).

[38] Parsons, "History of Woman's Organized Missionary Work," 85.

[39]Katherine E. Vaughn, "Changing Leadership: A Report from American Mission Stations Regarding the Place of Women in National Churches," 1927.

[40] Hill, The World Their Household; Robert, American Women in Mission.

[41] Ishii, American Women Missionaries.

[42] Transnational Biblewomen: Asian and African Women in Christian Mission, a special issue of Women's History Review 17, no. 4 (2008); Pui-lan Kwok, Chinese Woman and Christianity, 1860-1927 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992).

[43] See, for example, Connie Shemo, The Medical Ministries of Kang Cheng and Shi Meiyu: On A Cross-Cultural Frontier of Gender, Race, and Nation (Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh University Press, 2011); Wendy Urban-Mead, The Gender of Piety: Intersections of Faith and Family in Matabeleland Zimbabwe since 1910 (forthcoming, University of Ohio Press).

[44] Our World-Wide Work: A Survey of the Field of the Woman's Board of Missions (Boston: Congregational House, n.d.) (Also accessible on microfilm. History of Women, Reel 872, no. 7151)

[45] See, for example, Christine B. Lindner, "'Long, Long Will She Be Affectionately Remembered': Gender and the Memorialization of an American Female Missionary," Social Sciences and Missions 23 (2010): 7-31.