Godey's Lady's Book

American Woman in Religious Ministry in 1897 – Part Two

In the latter part of the 19th century Godey’s Lady’s Book put a larger focus on the achievements of women outside the home in teaching, healthcare/sanitation, literature, and religious service.

This five part series is based on an article called  Woman in Religious Ministry from the September 1897 issue of the magazine.

This article ran during the period when magazines were making the transition between hand drawn portraits/illustrations and actual photography.

This story is especially interesting in that context because it discusses contemporary women working in various religious ministries, but the images used are a combination of rather artistically elegant drawn portraits and posed photographic images.

Woman in Religious Ministry in 1897 – Part Two

By S. T. Willis

Rev. Anna H. Shaw

Rev. Anna H. Shaw

Miss Anna Howard Shaw, Vice-President of the National Council of Women, and preacher in the Methodist Protestant Church,  is one of the most eloquent and magnetic speakers on the American platform.

Though born in England she was brought up in Michigan in the pioneer days, and, breathing in the spirit of Western freedom, her mind is as crisp as the frosts of those Northern forests in which she wandered in her childhood. Her wit is as keen as the winds of the Northland and as delightfully rich as the balsamic odors of the pine woods of Michigan. Someone has said of her:

She was educated for the ministry—educated herself. She is a self-made woman. If any other body made her what she is, that other body might well be proud of the work. She studied medicine, prepared herself to doctor body and soul, was ordained, and preached for one parish seven years; and then she exchanged the small parish for a larger one—that is, the world for her parish, and the enfranchisement of women her Gospel.

In reply to a request for a brief statement of her ministerial biography Miss Shaw says:

When I was a very young girl, I had an ardent desire to do some sort of public work and early thought of the ministry. This thought was developed under the influence of an earnest lady, through whose advice I united with the Methodist Church and was soon invited to fill various pulpits. My success in this direction was such as to warrant the church in giving me a local preacher’s license—in the spring of 1872. The following year I entered college, and in the year 1878 was graduated from the Divinity School of the Boston University. In 1880 I applied for ordination in the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which I was a member, and was refused on the ground of my sex. I then applied to the Methodist Protestant Church, whose conference was in session in Tarrytown, N. Y. , and was ordained by that body, of which I am still a member.

In regard to my reception by other preachers and churches, that depends entirely upon the preacher and the church. Some have been very friendly and helpful, while others have tried to do all they could to hinder.

I think there is no rule which can apply to any especial denomination in this matter.

For seven years she was pastor of a church, but gave up the work of pastor that she might give her time and strength to a much wider field of activities.

She has lectured in more than a hundred towns in Kansas alone, where she is exceedingly popular. In her new and larger sphere of activities she discusses with rare eloquence and power such themes as these: “The New Man, “The Injustice of Chivalry, ” “The Relation of Woman’s Ballot to the Home, ” “Woman Suffrage Essential to a True Republic, ” “The American Home, ” “Social Purity, ” “Woman’s Enfranchisement, ” “The Temperance Problem, “”The Strength of Character, ” “The Mission of Truth, ” “The Heavenly Vision, ” “The Fate of Republics, “”God’s Women, ” which indicate the scope of her thought and work.

Collection: Godey’s Lady’s Book
Publication: Godey’s Lady’s Book
Date: September, 1897
Title: Woman in Religious Ministry
Location: Philadelphia, PA

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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