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Highlights from Women's History Manuscript Collections at the Rubenstein Library: Religion

Religion Overview

Church congregationMaterials in this category contain considerable information on women's religious experiences and activities. Holdings are particularly strong in documenting personal spiritual struggles and women's involvement in Protestant religious organizations.

18th Century Collections

Sarah Crosby Papers, 1760-1804
Leeds, England. Restricted. Letters from the first woman authorized to preach by John Wesley. Contains mainly outgoing correspondence on Methodism: included are memoranda, copies of letters between John Wesley and Mary Bosanquet, and extracts from the diary of Jane Cooper.

19th Century Collections

Sarah Eve Adams Diary, 1813-1814
Richmond County, GA. Chronicles Adam's life while living with the Eve family near Augusta where she attended Christ Presbyterian Church. Includes descriptions of congregation, preacher, and activities. Also includes references to Methodist activities in the area.

Cynthia Blair Papers, 1852-1892; (bulk 1852-1859)
Randolph Co., NC. Correspondence of two adolescent girls with friends and relatives contain family news and much information on social and religious life in the pre-war period. Subjects include camp meetings, revivals, religion at home, Trinity College in 1861, and quilting bees.

Martha Foster Crawford Diaries, 1846-1881
Clinton, AL and Shanghai, China. Diaries as a young woman in Alabama, 1846-1851, and later as a Baptist missionary to China. Included are several printed pamphlets and an original manuscript history of missions in China. This collection is available online.

Mehitable Forbush Eames Papers, 1804-1855
Westborough, MA. Chiefly letters to Eames relating to the religious ferver of the Second Great Awakening in Massachusetts, especially among its female adherents in the Baptist churches of Westborough and Medway. Letters are filled with spiritual lamentations and often describe religious activities in the area.

Mary Jane Fraser Notebook, 1842
Charleston, SC. Notes on "The Church Universal" in the form of questions and answers.

Mary E. Baxter Gresham Commonplace Book, 1837-1879; (bulk 1837-1850)
Athens, GA. Manuscript volume (ca. 200 p.) of a young woman includes transcribed letters, poems, and essays expressing religious and cultural values.

Susan Elinor Willard Jocelyn Manuscript, ca. 1840
New England. Unpublished fictional portrayal of the daily life of a rural pastor's wife entitled "Lights and Shadows: Parish Sketches." Includes mounted photographs of rural kitchen interiors dated 1907.

Sarah B. Parsons Diary, 1819-1859
East Haddam, CT. Reflections upon family and spiritual life. Bulk of entries chronicle her children's birthdays, illnesses, education, and marriages. Frequent mention of husband's church, local prayer meetings and revivals, and illnesses and deaths in the community.

Elizabeth Sayre Petition, (ca. 1880-1850?)
Warwick, NY. Request to the Baptist Church at Warwick, N.Y., for restoration of her membership. Includes references to personal and family difficulties and religious views.

Missouria H. Stokes Correspondence, 1856-1924
Decatur, GA. Correspondence relating to personal affairs, temperance, and religion. Included is information on the National and the Georgia Women's Christian Temperance Union; Frances Willard; temperance legislation; author Mary Ann Harris Guy; Harmony Male and Female Academy, Georgia Female College, and the Sans Souci School for Girls.

Christiana Strong Diary, 1806-1810
CT. Diary primarily chronicles Strong's inner spiritual struggles.

Anne A. Turner Diary, 1821-1837
Fayetteville, NC. Chiefly concerned with religious introspection and family matters.

20th Century Collections

Inabelle Graves Coleman Papers, 1942-1981; (bulk 1952-1957)
Durham, NC. Restricted. School administrator, teacher, Baptist churchworker, missionary. Chiefly photographs of Chinese people, churches, and schools. Also included are articles and letters written by Coleman from the mission field describing missionary activities.

Ethel Grace Cooper "Missionaries from Everywhere" scrapbook, 1952-1970
Ethel Grace Cooper resided in Portland, Ore., and Hawthorne, Calif., while creating this scrapbook focusing on missionaries currently in service. She was active in the Nazarene Foreign Missionary Society. This scrapbook is available online.

Lillie Moore Everett Papers, 1890-1948
Rockingham, NC. Correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, and notes concerning the history of various religious groups and churches in Richmond County. Includes information on early Methodist leaders, camp meetings, Pee Dee and Peidmont circuits, the Women's Missionary Society, and Methodism among blacks.

Hall Family Papers, 1869-1965
Wilmington, NC. Collection contains correspondence between Maggie T. Sprunt Hall and her daughters relating to family matters, Wellesley College, and women's work in the Presbyterian Church, particularly the Women's Foreign Missionary Society.

Elizabeth Hargrave Papers, 1977-2010
Collection contains religious and activist conference and workshop materials, printed materials, clippings, a campaign T-shirt, one audiocassette, photographs, Davidson County (NC) Commissioner campaign materials, Charlotte Women's Political Caucus materials, and files related to public education in North Carolina. Acquired as part of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture.

George Way Harley Papers, 1911-1975; (bulk 1925-1960)
Asheville, NC and Ganta, Liberia. Correspondence, diaries, writings, subject files, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous items document the missionary work of Harley and his wife Winifred Jewell Harley. During the 35 years spent at the Ganta Mission, the Harleys built a medical dispensary, hospital, church, school, and several residences, shops, and "sick" villages.

Harmony Church (Pilgrim Holiness) Record book, 1910-1944
Harmony, NC. Minutes, financial accounts, memoranda, and membership lists include numerous references to revivals and evangelists such as Laura Albright (1925), a Quaker and Northern Methodist minister.

Nancy Peeler Keppel Papers, 1950-2003 and undated
Primarily newsletters, published resources, and conference files documenting Kepple's interest in social justice issues generally and in the Protestant church specifically. Topics include gay and lesbian rights, divorce, sexuality, gender-inclusive language, women's place in work, home, and church, and the quest for spirituality and meaning. There are also writings, class notes, calendars/daybooks, photographs, videocassette and audio cassette tapes, and correspondence, including letters from theologian, John Howard Yoder (closed).

Carl Howie King and Mary Eskridge King Papers, 1918-1973 and undated
Salisbury, NC. The Mary Eskridge King division, 1941-1973, of the collection contains primarily printed materials representing her work with the Methodist Church and her interests in Christian social ministries on local, regional and national levels. Included are materials from the Women's Society of Christian Service, North Carolina Council of Churches, Methodist Board of Hospitals, Board of Missions, Board of Christian Social Concerns, Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization, Western North Carolina Conference, and other groups.

Elizabeth M. H. Knowles Diary, 1915
Macon, GA. Teacher. Records her life in Rome, GA; teaching at the Appleton Church Home, an Episcopal orphanage for girls in Macon, GA; travel by train and steamship; student life at Shorter College. Includes information on social life, her relationships with students and the sisters of the Order of Deaconesses of St. Katherine at the orphanage, Episcopal churches and clergy.

Mary McMillan Papers, 1936-1997
McMillan was a United Methodist missionary and teacher at the Hiroshima Jo Gakuin College in Hiroshima, Japan from just before World War II through 1990. In addition to her work as a teacher, the collection documents McMillan's service to the Kyodan, a unifying organization for Christian missionaries in Japan, and to the hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as her peace activism. The diaries in this collection are available online.

Pauli Murray Letter: to Family and Friends, 1976 Dec. 21
Alexandria, VA. Copy of letter addressed to "Family and Friends" is largely autobiographical and reviews her academic career in both religion and law, training for the Episcopal priesthood, her dedication to human rights, and names of those who have helped and influenced her. Also includes an invitation to her ordination as priest in the Washington Cathedral.

Jeanne Audrey Powers Papers, 1924-2015
Jeanne Audrey Powers was a United Methodist lesbian clergywoman who was the first secretary of the United Methodist Church's Commission on the Status and Role of Women. She also served as the Associate General Secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns from 1972-1996. She announced her lesbianism publicly in 1995 and retired from the ministry shortly afterwards. She is known for her work on issues of equality and feminist activism in the Methodist Church. She was an organizer of the Re-Imagining conference, an interfaith gathering of Christian feminists which provoked controversy among more conservative mainline Protestants.

Re-Imagining Collection, 1993-2016
Seventy-six mp3 files comprising oral history interviews by Sherry E. Jordon with 63 participants in the 1993 conference "Re-Imagining: A Global Theological Conference By Women: For Men and Women." Additionally, 127 mp3 files and 79 audiocassettes comprising Re-Imagining conference sessions and rituals from gatherings in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2000, as well as papers documenting Jordon's work with Re-Imagining. Audio files from this collection have been digitized and are posted on the collection guide.

Resource Center for Women and the Ministry in the South Records, 1939-2010
Durham, NC. Alphabetical, grant, and financial files relating to the organization's work with women's issues in the church. Also contains correspondence, audio-visual materials, and printed materials including newsletters and brochures of the organization as well as other groups. Records document conferences sponsored by the Center; sermons and talks by the Center's director; relationships with other women in ministerial organizations; and general information on a range of topics such as lesbians and gays in the church, abortion, and feminism and Christianity.

Laura "Tibbie" Roberts Papers, 1811-2011 and undated
This collection consists of correspondence, conference materials, awards, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera from the life and volunteering of Tibbie Roberts. Items of note include her materials from the North Carolina Council of Churches, the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995), North Carolina Council for Women, the National Women's Conference in Houston (1978), and the United Methodist Church's United Methodist Women Southeast Jurisdiction. Also includes scrapbooks from Roberts' conferences in the 1990s, including her trips to China, Singapore, and Malaysia as part of the Fourth Annual World Conference on Women, the NGO Forum on Women, and the World Methodist Conference, and her trip to Israel as part of an excavation course. Also included are materials from a filmstrip promoting the Equal Rights Amendment.