Cover image for Prophesying daughters : Black women preachers and the Word, 1823-1913
Prophesying daughters : Black women preachers and the Word, 1823-1913
Haywood, Chanta M., 1968-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 144 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
The prophesying daughters : biographical and historical background -- The act of prophesying : nineteenth-century Black women preachers and Black literary history -- Prophetic change : Jarena Lee's and Julia Foote's uses of conversion rhetoric in the context of reader distrust -- Prophetic journeying : the trope of travel in Black women preachers' narratives -- Prophetic reading : Black women preachers and biblical interpretation -- Prophetic works : prophesying daughters and social activism--the case of Frances Joseph Gaudet -- Can I get a witness? : the implications of prophesying for African American literary studies.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR563.N4 H39 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In nineteenth-century America, many black women left their homes, their husbands, and their children to spread the Word of God. Descendants of slaves or former "slave girls" themselves, they traveled all over the country, even abroad, preaching to audiences composed of various races, denominations, sexes, and classes, offering their own interpretations of the Bible. When they were denied the pulpit because of their sex, they preached in tents, bush clearings, meeting halls, private homes, and other spaces. They dealt with domestic ideologies that positioned them as subservient in the home, and with racist ideologies that positioned them as naturally inferior to whites. They also faced legalities restricting blacks socially and physically and the socioeconomic reality of often being part of a large body of unskilled laborers. Jarena Lee, Julia Foote, Maria Stewart, and Frances Gaudet were four women preachers who endured such hardships because of their religious convictions. Often quoting from the scripture, they insisted that they were indeed prophesying daughters whom God called upon to preach. Significantly, many of these women preachers wrote autobiographies in which they present images of assertive, progressive, pious women--steadfast and unmovable in their religious beliefs and bold in voicing their concerns about the moral standing of their race and society at large. Chanta M. Haywood examines these autobiographies to provide new insight into the nature of prophesying, offering an alternative approach to literature with strong religious imagery. She analyzes how these four women employed rhetorical and political devices in their narratives, using religious discourse to deconstruct race, class, and gender issues of the nineteenth century. By exploring how religious beliefs become an avenue for creating alternative ideologies, Prophesying Daughters will appeal to students and scholars of African American literature, women's studies, and religious studies.

Author Notes

Chanta M. Haywood is Interim Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research and Associate Professor of English at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Haywood (English, Florida A&M Univ.) here examines the autobiographies of four 19th-century black women preachers who were slaves or descendants of slaves in order to reveal the connection between their religious convictions and their commitment to political and social change. Instead of focusing on the gospel message of these texts, Haywood homes in on their trials as black women at a time when they were denied equality in all areas of life. "Prophesying," in Haywood's context, refers not to foretelling but to proclaiming the gospel and biblical message, especially as it relates to social change, as well as to these women's sense of calling, akin to the Apostle Paul. Haywood cites examples from the autobiographies that may inspire readers to consult the original texts, but her own thesis is laden with jargon, and its appeal will be limited to fellow academics searching for a new angle on these 19th-century autobiographies. For comprehensive academic collections in literature, sociology, and religion.-George Westerlund, formerly with Providence P.L., Palmyra, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Taking her title from the book of Joel, Haywood (English, Florida A&M Univ., Tallahassee) argues that the four 19th-century African American women preachers she discusses should be considered contributors to the development of African American literary history. According to the author, Jarena Lee, Julia Foote, Maria Stewart, and Frances Gaudet left a legacy of religious conviction and social activism, a contribution that most literary scholars overlook (though Haywood does acknowledge several critics who have examined some of their speeches and essays within the context of black women writers). Haywood hopes that her study will encourage a deeper analysis of the rhetorical devices black women preachers used as they sought to define themselves as Christians and agents of social and political reform. Such analyses, she claims, will open possibilities for new interpretations of the religious themes that run through much of 19th-century African American fiction. In addition to introducing readers to relevant biblical references, Prophesying Daughters presents an excellent historical overview of the conditions under which these women labored in order to fulfill their "divine obligation." ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Of special interest to lower/upper-division undergraduates and general readers. S. A. Adell University of Wisconsin--Madison

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 The Prophesying Daughters: Biographical and Historical Backgroundp. 1
2 The Act of Prophesying: Nineteenth-Century Black Women Preachers and Black Literary Historyp. 14
3 Prophetic Change: Jarena Lee's and Julia Foote's Uses of Conversion Rhetoric in the Context of Reader Distrustp. 34
4 Prophetic Journeying: The Trope of Travel in Black Women Preachers' Narrativesp. 51
5 Prophetic Reading: Black Women Preachers and Biblical Interpretationp. 72
6 Prophetic Works: Prophesying Daughters and Social Activism--The Case of Frances Joseph Gaudetp. 90
7 Can I Get a Witness? The Implications of Prophesying for African American Literary Studiesp. 111
Selected Bibliographyp. 123
Indexp. 139