- Blackwell, Antoinette Brown
- (1825-1921)pioneer woman ministerAntoinette Brown, the first female Protestant minister to be ordained with the approval of a church judicatory, was born in Henrietta, New York, on May 20, 1825. She began to speak publicly during worship services at her local Congregational church when only nine years old. She attended Oberlin College, one of the first colleges to open its classes to women, from which she graduated in 1847. She completed her seminary work at Oberlin in 1850 but was denied a divinity degree. She was also refused ordination, though she did become the pastor of a Congregational church in South Butler, New York, where she was finally ordained on September 15, 1853. She left the parish the following year and eventually became a Unitarian.Two years after leaving the pastoral ministry, Brown married Samuel L. Blackwell, the brother of college mate Lucy Stone's husband. The Blackwell brothers were both supportive of Stone's outstanding work as a women's rights activist. Antoinette moved to New Jersey with her husband and began preaching at Unitarian churches (though never returning to the pastor's role). She authored several books and frequently lectured on women's rights. She was a founding member of the New Jersey Woman's Suffrage Association in 1867. Oberlin eventually recognized Brown with an honorary M.A. in 1878 and an honorary doctorate in 1908.Brown led an active life into her 90s, her last sermons delivered during World War I. She died in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on November 5, 1921, after participating in the first national election in which women could vote.Further reading:■ Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Sea Drift (New York: James Wright, 1902)■ ----, The Sexes throughout Nature (New York, 1875)■ ----, The Social Side of Mind and Action (New York: 1915)■ Elizabeth Cazden, Antoinette Brown Blackwell: A Biography (Westbury, N.Y.: The Feminist Press, 1983)■ Carol Lasser and Marlene Merrill, eds., Friends and Sisters: Letters Between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846-93 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.