Cover image for Strangers & pilgrims : female preaching in America, 1740-1845
Strangers & pilgrims : female preaching in America, 1740-1845
Brekus, Catherine A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
x, 466 pages ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Papers presented at several seminars and conferences.
Reading Level:
1520 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BV4208.U6 B74 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Margaret Meuse Clay, who barely escaped a public whipping in the 1760s for preaching without a license; "Old Elizabeth," an ex-slave who courageously traveled to the South to preach against slavery in the early nineteenth century; Harriet Livermore, who spoke in front of Congress four times between 1827 and 1844--these are just a few of the extraordinary women profiled in this, the first comprehensive history of female preaching in early America.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, Catherine Brekus examines the lives of more than a hundred female preachers--both white and African American--who crisscrossed the country between 1740 and 1845. Outspoken, visionary, and sometimes contentious, these women stepped into the pulpit long before twentieth-century battles over female ordination began. They were charismatic, popular preachers, who spoke to hundreds and even thousands of people at camp and revival meetings, and yet with but a few notable exceptions--such as Sojourner Truth--these women have essentially vanished from our history. Recovering their stories, Brekus shows, forces us to rethink many of our common assumptions about eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American culture.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In this well-documented and readable history of a neglected group, Brekus (American religious history, Univ. of Chicago) examines the rise and decline of female preachers among Evangelical churches from 1740 to 1845, with an epilog discussing late-19th-century developments. Brekus follows female evangelism through 18th-century revivals and the American Revolution to its rise during the 1820s. She then covers the growing restrictions on female preaching that started to appear in the 1830s and its brief resurgence among the Millerites. Brekus is especially interested in how these women understood their own conversion, calls to preach, pulpit style, theology, and defense of female preaching within the context of their own times and religious beliefs. Recommended for academic and public libraries.‘C. Robert Nixon, Lafayette, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Recovering the History of Female Preaching in America
Part 1 There Is Neither Male nor Female
Chapter 1 Caught Up in God
Female Evangelism in the Eighteenth-Century Revivals
Chapter 2 Women in the Wilderness
Female Religious Leadership in the Age of Revolution
Part 2 Sisters in Christ, Mothers in Israel
Chapter 3 Female Laborers in the Harvest
Female Preaching in the Early Nineteenth Century
Chapter 4 The Last Shall Be First: Conversion and the Call to Preach
Chapter 5 Lift Up Thy Voice Like a Trumpet: Evangelical Women in the Pulpit
Chapter 6 God and Mammon
Female Peddlers of the Word
Part 3 Let Your Women Keep Silence
Chapter 7 Suffer Not a Woman to Teach
The Battle over Female Preaching
Chapter 8 Your Sons and Daughters Shall Prophesy
Female Preaching in the Millerite Movement Epilogue
Write the Vision Appendix
Female Preachers and Exhorters in America, 1740-1845
The Capitol, Washington, D.C. Harriet Livermore (1827)
Jonathan Edwards's notes on the Bathsheba Kingsley case (1743)Philip Dawes
A Society of Patriotic Ladies(1775)
Portrait of Jemima Wilkinson by John L. D. Mathies (1816)
Methodist church in Unity, New Hampshire (1823)
A Methodist camp meeting held in Queen Anne's County, Maryland Title page of Elleanor Warner Knight
A Narrative of the Christian Experience, Life and Adventures, Trials and Labours of Elleanor Knight, Written by Herself (1839)Salome Lincoln Abigail and Roberts Sarah Righter
Major Nancy Towle Rebecca Miller's article on the "Duty of Females" (1841)Laura Smith Haviland
An advertisement for Harriet Livermore's books (1832)Jarena Lee Sojourner
Truth (1864)
A Methodist camp meeting (1820)
St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church, New York City (1859)Lydia Sexton
A Millerite chart (1843) The Millerites' Great Tent (1844)Martha Spence Heywood