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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Remembering Olympia Brown: Pioneer Minister and Advocate for Equal Rights for Women

Olympia Brown. 1919. Library of Congress
by Herbert C. Hallas
Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved by the author.

One hundred and fifty years ago this summer in the North Country, Olympia Brown became the first woman in U.S. history to become a fully ordained minister with a degree from a regularly established theological school.[1] She was ordained by the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists in the Universalist Church of Malone, New York on June 25, 1863, and graduated from the St. Lawrence University Theological School in Canton, New York two weeks later.[2]

For the rest of her 91-year-old life, she doubled as an outspoken Universalist preacher and a fearless campaigner for suffrage and equal rights for women. Of the original pioneer crusaders for women’s rights with whom Olympia worked closely—Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton – only Olympia lived long enough to vote after the Nineteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

Olympia was born in a one-room log cabin in Schoolcraft, Michigan, a small settlement in the southern part of the state, on January 5, 1835. She was the oldest of four children born to her parents, Lephia Olympia and Asa, who had migrated to Michigan from Plymouth, Vermont.[3]

Olympia grew up in a “strong anti-slavery” family. Her uncle’s house nearby was part of the Underground Railroad system and she often traveled there to visit with runaway slaves. For seven years, one of the fugitives worked for her father as a hired hand on the family farm.[4]

According to Olympia, her mother was a “very zealous” Universalist and “the earliest reformer I ever knew.” She taught her daughter about universal salvation, the brotherhood of man, and the importance of equal rights for women.[5]

The radical views concerning women’s rights, anti-slavery, and dress reform in Horace Greeley’s New York Weekly Tribune also helped shape Olympia’s value system. When she was a teenager, family discussion of the Tribune’s coverage of speeches given by Anthony, Stanton and Stone at a women’s rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts “stirred her soul.” The three women promptly became “great heroes” to her.[6]

After high school, she attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, an all-girls school in Massachusetts. She left after one year to go to another college after being crushed by Mt. Holyoke’s “strict rules” and repulsed by the weekly prayer meetings which bombarded her with threatening talk of hellfire and brimstone.[7]

Olympia’s choices to obtain a higher education after leaving Mount Holyoke were slim. Almost every college in America at that time was exclusively for men. She considered Oberlin, the nation’s first coeducational college located in nearby Ohio but she rejected the school because it would not allow women to participate in public exercises. Instead, she chose Antioch, also in Ohio, because the college’s president, Horace Mann, promised incoming students the opportunity to take part in “a great experiment”—the education of women on the same terms as men.[8]

As a student at Antioch, she wore clothing popularized by women’s rights advocate, Amelia Bloomer. Olympia found the long baggy pants, worn under a skirt, “convenient and comfortable.” In keeping with the spirit of her new garb, she challenged the college’s practice of only inviting men to be visiting lecturers and arranged for Antoinette Brown Blackwell, a well-known women’s rights activist and lay preacher, to come to Antioch and speak. It was the first time Olympia had heard a woman preacher and Olympia said she felt as though “the Kingdom of Heaven were at hand.”[9]

Greatly influenced by Blackwell’s appearance, Olympia decided that after she graduated from Antioch in 1860, she wanted to go to theological school and become a fully ordained minister. She knew of no other woman in America who had done that and she wanted to be the first.[10]

Like most of the undergraduate colleges in the U.S. at this time, theological schools were also almost entirely for men, not women. She applied to the Unitarian Theological School at Meadville, Pennsylvania but it turned her down because of her sex. Oberlin’s theological school said it would accept her but Olympia chose not to go there because Oberlin’s acceptance, once again, was on the condition that she not participate in any public exercises.[11]

Olympia ended up applying to the only other theological school open to her—the Theological School of St. Lawrence University, a Universalist seminary which had opened in 1858 in Canton, New York. The school’s president, Ebenezer Fisher, told her she could come to the school but should not expect to be ordained as a minister. He said he did not think women were called to the ministry but added, “I leave that between you and the Great Head of Church.” Olympia thought that was “just where it should be left” and arrived in Canton for classes in the fall of 1861.[12]

She was the only female student on campus. Faculty wives were either cool to her at first or outright hostile. During her first year, male students derided her by standing outside her windows at night and mimicking her soft, high-pitched voice.[13]

Olympia spent her vacations between classes getting experience preaching. She took assignments at Universalist churches in Vermont, and in and around Canton, including those in nearby Ogdensburg and Heuvelton. The congregation in Heuvelton liked her so much, they offered her a full-time job to be their pastor after she graduated. However, first she had to become officially ordained by a governing body of the Universalist church.[14]

The governing body closest to Olympia’s school was the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists. It had been officially organized in 1839 and represented the Universalist churches in St. Lawrence, Franklin and Clinton Counties. Every June each of the Association’s churches sent their minister and two delegates to an annual meeting where they would transact ecclesiastical business, which included ordaining ministers.[15] The Association’s next meeting was scheduled for June 24, 1863 in Malone, New York, about 50 miles east of Canton, in Franklin County.[16]

Olympia was on track to graduate from theological school on July 9, 1863 and once again discussed ordination with President Fisher. He told her he was opposed to her ordination and would speak against it in Malone if she sought it at the Association meeting. She knew that the representatives from the Heuvelton Universalist Church would support her bid for ordination at the meeting, so whether the president of her school supported her or not, she decided to go to Malone and seek ordination by herself.[17]

In June 1863, Malone was bustling with Civil War news and activity. Newspapers were filled with stories about Robert E. Lee’s invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania and speculation that Confederate forces might continue their advance into western New York State and attack Buffalo.[18] A train carrying the Sixteenth Regiment, a unit organized in 1861 with men recruited from Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties, had recently pulled into the Malone railroad station. The men’s term of service had expired and the regiment’s 350 men had returned home from the fighting.[19] Ulysses S. Grant had tightened his siege of Vicksburg and the Provost Marshal’s office in Malone was busy registering men under the newly enacted draft law.[20]

Families in Malone were also excited by the fact that on the same day that the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists planned to open their annual two-day conclave, A.P. Ball’s Great Collosseum [sic] would be in Malone to put on a show in a two-center-pole tent that was said to hold 2,000 people. Ticket holders had been promised that they would see “gymnastic feats, acrobatic performances, antique Olympic games, grotesque dances, comic scenes, pantomimes and plays.”[21]

If Olympia had read the local newspapers as she waited for the Association’s meeting to open, she would have been encouraged to see that three women in Malone were advertising their own businesses—a music and drawing teacher, a “fashionable” clothing store operator, and a bonnet and dress trimmings store owner. However, Olympia probably would have been appalled by two other articles about women that were in the newspapers. The first, entitled, “The Art of Wife-Preserving,” provided women with advice about what wives should do to keep their husbands happy. 

Cartoon by Henry Mayer entitled, “When our national guard is feminized.” In the center, is a woman
selecting colors of fabric for a military uniform. Surrounding this, are a number of scenes showing women
in military uniforms. Illus. in: Puck, v. 75, no. 1943 (1914 May 30), centerfold (p. 12-13). Library of

The tips ranged from “be fresh, fair and fascinating” to “bring him slippers and coffee, care and courtesy” to “acquire cultivation.”[22] The second article, entitled “‘Woman’s Rights’ Which Have Been Overlooked,” listed ten of such “rights.” The number one “right” was “to have her home in order whenever her husband returns from business.” Number two was “to be kind and forebearing whenever her husband is annoyed.” It is highly unlikely that Olympia read the remaining eight “rights.”[23]

Universalist preachers had begun coming to Malone as early as 1824. In 1846, the First Universalist Society of Malone was incorporated and a church building was erected on Main Street.[24] On June 24, 1863, the doors to that church swung open for the first session of the St. Lawrence Universalist Association’s annual meeting, and Olympia walked in to make an argument for her ordination. 

Her request to be ordained was “bitterly contested.” Behind the scenes, she learned that one of the most potent arguments brought up against her ordination was that it would “bring down the price of preaching” because it would encourage women to “flock to the ministry.” Nevertheless, the ordaining council voted in favor of ordaining Olympia and the official ceremonies were held on the next day, June 25, 1863.[25] Two weeks later, on July 9, 1863, Olympia became the first woman in U.S. history to become a fully ordained minister with a degree from a recognized theological school, when President Fisher handed Olympia her diploma.[26]

The Reverend Olympia Brown believed that it was her duty as a minister to candidly preach a “living religion” that made war on “the great social and political evils” of her day. She planned to wage battle for the weak and powerless not only in churches, but also in the nation’s streets, homes, lecture halls, government offices and places of business.[27] One of the greatest evils Olympia planned to confront was the subjugation of women. She said, “The United States is an aristocracy of sex. It is the meanest aristocracy on the face of the earth.”[28]

Life for women in America’s “aristocracy of sex” was similar in many ways to life for women living today under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Women’s speech and participation in public events was proscribed. Their physical movement was limited by the restrictive clothing they were expected to wear. They were not allowed to control property they inherited or money they earned if they were married. Their access to higher education was practically non-existent. And they did not have the right to vote. Olympia dedicated her life to changing all of that.

Olympia felt that, for the most part, American women were “feeble abject beings, mere butterflies” overly devoted to the “frivolities of fashion, needlework and novels.” In order to become free and strong, women had to have the opportunity to obtain a higher education and the vote—the two keys to self-respect and independence.[29] 

The caption reads. "'Queen of the Home,' say the Anti-Suffragists. Yes; Queen of a Cook-Stove Throne." The cartoon shows a woman wearing a crown, slumped over, sitting on a chair atop a stove, holding a broom in her right hand, with pots and pans steaming around her. Illus. in: Puck, v. 76, no. 1970 (1914 December 5), p. 4. Library of Congress.

According to Olympia, women were being fed an education consisting of “broken bits of knowledge, half-truths and make-believes” that were all “crumbs from the rich man’s table.” She said that the female seminaries were “miserable farces” that cheated women out of any semblance of learning. Olympia demanded higher education for women that would give them “the executive ability of the business man, the intellectual acumen of the scholar, the comprehensive thought of the philosopher, and the prophetic vision of the seer.” This kind of higher education would enable a woman to forge armor for herself “to do battle with the world,” to learn how to support herself independently, and to realize “the power and beauty of true womanhood.”[30]

Olympia’s demand for suffrage, the second key women needed to gain self-respect and independence, was couched in religious terms. She said that woman’s suffrage not only involved the principles of democratic government, but also the doctrine of justice taught in the Golden Rule.[31] She contended that God had given women an interest in their government and had intended men and women to rule “side by side.”[32] Paraphrasing words from the Bible, she argued that the founding fathers wanted to create a republic in which there should be “neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond nor free, nor male nor female.”[33]

From the beginning to the end of her career, Olympia fought fearlessly for equal rights for women, never forgetting the biblical exhortation, “Let no man despise you.”[34] She marched, lectured, testified, published, protested and picketed thousands of times from coast to coast.

Woman labeled "universal suffrage" seated on ballot box, African American man labeled "Negro suffrage", and woman labeled "female suffrage" holding club labeled "sorosis." Illus. in: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, (1869 July 31), p. 320. Library of Congress.

Olympia was a woman of action. Her small, slim, delicate looking appearance was deceiving. Weighing in at barely 90 pounds, she may not have looked very formidable to bystanders[35], but she had no fear for her personal safety when she went into action. In 1867, at the age of 32, she campaigned for universal suffrage in the heat of Kansas during the months of July and August. Working alone, she traveled the length and breadth of the state speaking two or three times a day at meetings that were often 50 miles apart. She slept on floors, or in lofts in log cabins, or shared a bed in a dugout or sod house. In one town, by herself, she had to face down a howling mob of men that threw rocks and other debris at the school house where she was speaking.[36]

Fifty years later in Washington D.C., when she was 82, Olympia could still be found courageously demanding equal rights for women. Ignoring the risk of being attacked by gangs of hooting and jeering men as the police looked on, she picketed the White House to protest President Woodrow Wilson’s failure to speak out in favor of woman’s suffrage. A year later in 1918, she joined a protest demonstration in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, on the day Wilson was to be officially received by the French at the peace talks being held in Paris at the end of World War I. 

Woman suffrage demonstrators at Lafayette Park in 1918. Library of Congress.

About 400 women gathered to burn all of Wilson’s speeches and books on freedom and democracy. A rowdy group of men also gathered to heckle the protesters. When Olympia stepped forward and threw the speech Wilson gave when he arrived in France, into the fire, the catcalling stopped. Her speech castigating Wilson brought applause and cheers.[37]

Olympia did not censure men only, she had plenty to say about women too. She told them that their indifference and inertia were the greatest obstacles to women’s rights, especially suffrage.[38] She said that sometimes, women just did not fully understand what the women’s movement was all about.[39] At a tea once, the poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, told Olympia that the women whose opinions he admired did not favor suffrage for women. She bluntly responded by telling Emerson, “I should not value the opinion of any woman who was opposed to woman’s suffrage.”[40]

When Olympia’s battle for suffrage took her to Washington, D.C. to testify before congressional committees, she often had to joust with women who were opposed to suffrage. At the age of 78, Olympia rebutted the testimony of the treasurer of a national woman’s anti-suffrage association who had charged that woman’s suffrage was a “political disease” and that two-thirds of the suffrage leaders were out and out socialists.[41]

Woman suffrage pickets at the White House in 1917. Library of Congress.

The most serious disputes Olympia had with women took place when she was in her 80’s and was marching and picketing the White House as a member of the militant Woman’s Party. The leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw, condemned the marching and picketing as “disgusting and reprehensible.” Olympia’s state organization in Wisconsin agreed with Catt and Howard and shunned Olympia, describing her activity as “improper.” Olympia answered by accusing her detractors of cowardice and being more interested in receiving publicity than working for principles. In a speech to her association’s board of directors, she asserted that although the U.S. may have entered World War I to make the world safe for democracy, “we cannot say that the United States is a democracy as long as women cannot vote.” To the criticism that it was improper and disgusting for women to march and picket, she declared that women had been dignified and proper for over 60 years and “we still do not have the vote.”[42]

In her personal and religious life, she relentlessly challenged the status quo whenever she believed that it contributed to the subjugation of women. Nothing was sacrosanct—not marriage customs, her fellow ministers, or even the Bible.

After falling in love with John Henry Willis, a member of her first church’s board of trustees in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and then marrying him after taking on a new job preaching in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1873, she did not change her name to either Mrs. John Henry Willis or the Reverend Olympia Brown Willis. Following a trail blazed by Lucy Stone, Olympia kept her own name. She and her husband were in agreement not to take part in a custom that they felt had originated when women were “mere chattel” and marriages were financial arrangements between families.[43]

Belva Lockwood. left, and Olympia Brown, in 1913.  An attorney, Lockwood was the first woman allowed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and was a candidate for president in 1884 and 1888. Library of Congress.
In 1915, When Olympia was president of the Federal Suffrage Association, an organization she had helped found in 1892, she criticized the fact that there were so many male preachers. She said that too many of them were “influenced by rich men in their districts” and were “afraid to attack child labor, white slavery, and other evils.” Olympia’s solution? More women should become ministers.[44]

When it came to the Bible, Olympia agreed with Elizabeth Cady Stanton that it was a document that had been written by men for men and that it was largely responsible for the subservient state women found themselves in. To help change that, Olympia worked with a committee that provided commentary for Stanton to use in writing her new book, The Woman’s Bible. It assailed the rampant sexism she ascertained was prevalent in the recently revised King James version of the Bible. Stanton’s book became a best seller.[45]

Olympia was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights who lived by the motto, “Let the chips fall where they may!”[46] She took uncompromising positions which often alienated wealthy business interests, immigrant groups and blacks.

Shortly after she began organizing and speaking out for suffrage for women and black men, she crossed swords with abolitionists, black activists and Republican political leaders who were demanding that black men should get the vote before women did. Her first inkling that women were about to be pushed to the end of the voting rights line behind black men took place at a universal suffrage rally in Kansas in 1867 when she heard Charles Henry Langston, a well-known black activist and educator, ask the audience if they “wanted every old maid to vote?”[47]

Matters came to an ugly head on this issue at a subsequent meeting of the American Equal Rights Association at Cooper Union in New York City where she got into a bitter dispute with another nationally prominent black civil rights leader—Frederick Douglass. After listening to speaker after speaker discuss strategy for winning voting rights for black men, she questioned why no one was speaking up for women, only for black men. Olympia was promptly rebuked by the six-foot tall Douglass who said he championed the right of black men to vote because it was a matter of life and death for them, unlike women. Seething with anger, Olympia stood up and interrupted Douglass asking, “Do you really believe that it is more important for two million Negro men to vote than it is for seventeen million women?” He refused to specifically answer her question but continued to argue that the black man needed the vote to protect his life and property. Olympia responded stating that what Douglass had said about black men, applied equally to black women.[48]

During her career, Olympia refused to defer to wealth and she did not hesitate to tell her parishioners how she felt. In one sermon she said, “There are those today who are worshipping Mammon rather than God . . . [who] would sell their birthright in God's kingdom for a miserable mess of pottage in bank stocks and government bonds; and yet they attend church, sit in cushioned pews, and talk about enjoying religion."[49] She ultimately paid a price for being so forthright. Shortly after she was hired to be a minister in Bridgeport, wealthy and influential members of her new church began work to oust her because they were angry the church had hired a woman. They called in ministers from neighboring churches to go among her parishioners telling them “what you need here is a good man.”[50] In the end, she was driven out of her job and she left Bridgeport to become a minister in Racine, Wisconsin in 1878.[51]

The title of this cartoon by Oscar Edward Cesare reads, "The genii of intolerance. A dangerous ally for the cause of women suffrage." It shows a genii "Prohibition" rising from a bottle labeled "Injustice Intolera[nce] Hypocr[isy]" tearing at a woman's banner reading "Votes for Women" as the woman flees from his clutches. Illus. in: Puck, v. 78, no. 2012 (1915 Sept. 25), p. 6. Library of Congress.

Olympia also had a curious duel with the American liquor industry. She supported temperance because she believed the liquor interests were “destroying body and mind” with “the poisons” they were selling—“a great and manifest evil.”[52] However, she was opposed to connecting temperance with woman’s suffrage, as other organizations had done. She had seen in Kansas how the liquor industry fought woman’s suffrage with newspaper ads, posters and speakers which warned voters that if women got the vote, they would shut down all the saloons.[53] Olympia was convinced that identifying prohibition with woman’s suffrage was a political error. She said doing so “put us back twenty-five years.”[54]

In the 1880’s, when vast numbers of “new” immigrants from central and southern Europe arrived in the United States and became eligible to vote, Olympia made some of the most acrimonious statements of her career. She said it was “unbearable” that American women were “the political inferiors of all the riffraff of Europe that is poured upon our shores.” Olympia stated that it was an “enormous injustice to women” that “we enfranchise the saloon and the poorhouse, the irresponsible classes” and “make the daughters of America subject to the serfs and slaves from the old world.” She was infuriated that political leaders gave the vote to “aliens, paupers, tramps and drunkards” while refusing to give it to “teachers, church members, preachers, and mothers.”[55]

Olympia did not expect to see “complete victory” for women’s rights in her lifetime. She believed that “each generation must be content to do its part, leaving it for others” to do theirs.[56] Recognizing that woman’s suffrage, in and of itself, would not grant women equal rights, Olympia called for Congress to introduce an equal rights amendment, immediately after it adopted the woman’s suffrage amendment.[57] She could foresee that an equal rights amendment would not only help women make additional gains, it would also prevent Congress from passing laws to take rights away from women.[58]

As pressure on Congress to enact a constitutional guarantee of equality for women builds again, and debate in Albany about new legislation to protect and expand women’s rights heats up, words on a bronze tablet installed by St. Lawrence University to honor the centennial of Olympia’s graduation and ordination are more meaningful than ever on this, the sesquicentennial, of her history-making accomplishments. The last sentence on the tablet proclaims, “The Flame of her Spirit Still Burns Today.”

About the author: Herbert C. Hallas is a retired history teacher and attorney and the author of William Almon Wheeler: Political Star of the North Country (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, in press). He has contributed articles to the Franklin Historical Review and publishes a blog about New York State and North Country history at herberthallas.comComing December 1, 2013: William Almon Wheeler: Political Star of the North Country (SUNY Press)


[1] There are a few historians who believe that Lydia Ann Jenkins may have been ordained several years before Olympia, however, most historians doubt this because records documenting Lydia’s ordination have not been found. Antoinette Brown Blackwell’s ordination in 1853 was not conducted by an official body of her church, only by the congregation of her local church. In any case, unlike Olympia, neither Lydia nor Antoinette were granted diplomas from a recognized theological school. Bidlack, “Olympia Brown,” 129n22; Howe, “Lydia Ann Jenkins”; Zink-Sawyer, From Preachers to Suffragists, 52n70.
[2] Brown, Acquaintances, 59–60.
[3] Ibid., 9, 11–12.
[4] Willis, Autobiography, 17.
[5] Neu, “Woman’s Suffrage,” 278; Coté, Olympia Brown, 31; Brown, Acquaintances, 7.
[6] Brown, Acquaintances, 8–10.
[7] Willis, Autobiography, 20, 22, 38; Coté, Olympia Brown, 31–34.
[8] Willis, Autobiography, 27.
[9] Ibid., 32, 33, 35.
[10] Ibid., 32, 37.
[11] Brown, Acquaintances, 27; Willis, Autobiography, 38.
[12] Willis, Autobiography, 39; Brown, Acquaintances, 28; Black, Sixty-years of Saint Lawrence, 17.
[13] Willis, Autobiography, 39; Coté, Olympia Brown, 54.
[14] Willis, Autobiography, 41–42.
[15] Hough, A History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, New York, 523–524; Today, the St. Lawrence District is made up of 34 Unitarian Universalist congregations in upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania with a central office in Buffalo. “Congregations of the St. Lawrence District of the UUA.”
[16] “St. Law. Universalist Association.”
[17] Coté, Olympia Brown, 60; Willis, Autobiography, 42.
[18] “Late War News.”
[19] “The 16th Regiment”; “The Welcome to the 16th Regiment.”
[20] “The Situation at Vicksburgh”; “The Provost Marshal.”
[21] “Advertisement.”
[22] “The Art of Wife-Preserving.”
[23] “‘Woman’s Rights’ Which Have Been Overlooked.”
[24] Seaver, Historical Sketches of Franklin County, 486.
[25] Willis, Autobiography, 42; Brown, Acquaintances, 30, 59.
[26] Coté, Olympia Brown, 60.
[27] Brown, “Installation Sermon,” 45, 49.
[28] Coté, Olympia Brown, 164.
[29] Neu, “Woman’s Suffrage,” 279; Brown, “The Higher Education of Women,” 250.
[30] Brown, “The Higher Education of Women,” 248–251.
[31] Brown, Acquaintances, 51.
[32] “Women in Council,” 8.
[33] Bidlack, “Olympia Brown,” 138.
[34] Brown, “Hand of Fellowship,” 29–30.
[35] However, one newspaper described her as “a weather beaten, cross-grained, sour, snappish, fanatical, crabbed, skinny, smoked looking old beldame.” “Personal,” 3.
[36] Brown, Acquaintances, 55–58, 62–64; Coté, Olympia Brown, 53, 81.
[37] Coté, Olympia Brown, 157–159, 163–164; Neu, “Woman’s Suffrage,” 285.
[38] Neu, “Woman’s Suffrage,” 286.
[39] “National Woman’s Suffrage Society,” 7.
[40] Brown, Acquaintances, 50–51.
[41] “Suffragists and Antis in Word War,” 1.
[42] Coté, Olympia Brown, 159–161.
[43] Brown, Acquaintances, 37–38; Willis, Autobiography, 55; The couple had two children. Henry Parker Willis was born at a “water cure sanitarium” in Elmira, New York in 1874 because Olympia “did not approve of any of the Bridgeport doctors.” Henry became a professor, editor and federal government official. Gwendolen Brown Willis was born in Bridgeport in 1876. She became a teacher of classics. Graves, “Notable American Women, 1607-1950,” 257; Willis, Autobiography, 55–56.
[44] “‘Pastoress’ Scores ‘Ping Pong’ Pastors,” 1; Coté, Olympia Brown, 133–134.
[45] Coté, Olympia Brown, 141.
[46] Brown, “Hand of Fellowship,” 29.
[47] Brown, Acquaintances, 69.
[48] Coté, Olympia Brown, 98–100. This incident influenced Olympia to help found a national organization devoted exclusively to obtaining woman’s suffrage.
[49] Brown, “Installation Sermon,” 45.
[50] Willis, Autobiography, 55; Hart, “Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography,” 223.
[51] Coté, Olympia Brown, 112–113. She worked in Racine until 1887 when she resigned to work full time for woman’s suffrage. Ibid., 125–126.
[52] Brown, “Installation Sermon,” 45.
[53] Coté, Olympia Brown, 91.
[54] Neu, “Woman’s Suffrage,” 286.
[55] Coté, Olympia Brown, 130; Neu, “Woman’s Suffrage,” 281.
[56] Brown, “Installation Sermon,” 49.
[57] Coté, Olympia Brown, 165.
[58] An Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1923, and 49 years later, in 1972, it was adopted. However, because it failed to win the approval of the necessary 38 states by a 1982 congressional deadline, the amendment was not ratified and therefore not added to the Constitution.


“Advertisement.” Frontier Palladium, June 18, 1863.
Bidlack, Beth. “Olympia Brown: Reading the Bible as a Universalist Minister and Pragmatic Suffragist.” In Breaking Boundaries: Female Biblical Interpreters Who Challenged the Status Quo, edited by Nancy Calvert-Koyzis and Heather Weir. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010.
Black, Malcolm S., ed. Sixty-years of Saint Lawrence. Norwood, MA: Plimpton Press, 1916.
Brown, Olympia. Acquaintances, Old and New, Among Reformers. Milwaukee: S.E. Tate, 1911.
———. “Hand of Fellowship.” In Services at the Ordination and Installation of Rev. Phebe A. Hanaford, edited by Rev. Wm. Haskell. C.C. Roberts, 1870.
———. “Installation Sermon.” In Services at the Ordination and Installation of Rev. Phebe A. Hanaford, edited by Rev. Wm. Haskell. C.C. Roberts, 1870.
———. “The Higher Education of Women.” In Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936, edited by Dorothy May Emerson. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2000.
“Congregations of the St. Lawrence District of the UUA.” The St. Lawrence District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Accessed February 5, 2013.
Coté, Charlotte. Olympia Brown. Racine, WI: Mother Courage Press, 1988.
Graves, Lawrence L. “Brown, Olympia.” In Notable American Women, 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Edward T. James. Harvard University Press, 1971.
Hart, Samuel, ed. “Staples, Frank Trubee.” Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography. Boston, New York and Chicago: The American Historical Society, 1917.
Hough, Franklin B. A History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, New York. Albany, NY: Little, 1853.
Howe, Charles A. “Lydia Ann Jenkins.” Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography. Accessed February 25, 2013.
“Late War News.” Frontier Palladium, June 18, 1863.
“National Woman’s Suffrage Society.” New York Times, May 12, 1875.
Neu, Charles E. “Olympia Brown and the Woman’s Suffrage Movement.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History, July 1, 1960.
“‘Pastoress’ Scores ‘Ping Pong’ Pastors.” The Milwaukee Sentinel, July 16, 1915.
“Personal.” Troy Weekly Times, August 3, 1867.
Seaver, Frederick J. Historical Sketches of Franklin County. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon, 1918.
“St. Law. Universalist Association.” Frontier Palladium, June 18, 1863.
“Suffragists and Antis in Word War.” The Mansfield (Ohio) Shield, February 1, 1913.
“The 16th Regiment.” Frontier Palladium, May 28, 1863.
“The Art of Wife-Preserving.” Frontier Palladium, June 25, 1863.
“The Provost Marshal.” Frontier Palladium, June 4, 1863.
“The Situation at Vicksburgh.” Frontier Palladium, June 4, 1863.
“The Welcome to the 16th Regiment.” Frontier Palladium, May 21, 1863.
Willis, Gwendolen B., ed. Olympia Brown: An Autobiogrpahy. harvardsquarelibrary, 1960. PDF e-book.
“‘Woman’s Rights’ Which Have Been Overlooked.” Frontier Palladium, May 28, 1863.
“Women in Council.” New York Times, May 15, 1874.
Zink-Sawyer, Beverly Ann. From Preachers to Suffragists: Woman’s Rights and Religious Conviction in the Lives of Three Nineteenth-Century American Clergywomen. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

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