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Barrows, Samuel June (26 May 1845–21 April 1909), minister, reformer, and editor, was born in New York City, the son of Richard Barrows, a printer, and Jane Weekes. He was four when his father died and nine when his mother asked her husband’s cousin, printing-press innovator ...

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Blackwell, Antoinette Louisa Brown (20 May 1825–05 November 1921), minister, reformer, and author, was born in Henrietta, New York, the daughter of Joseph Brown, a farmer and justice of the peace, and Abigail Morse. Antoinette proved a precocious child, following her older siblings to school at the age of three. The preaching of evangelist ...

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Channing, William Henry (25 May 1810–23 December 1884), Unitarian minister and reformer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Dana Channing, an attorney, and Susan Higginson. Although his father died in 1810, Channing was well-connected with influential New England families through both parents and was raised in an atmosphere of privilege. He grew up in the household of his maternal grandfather Stephen Higginson, a merchant, and his education was directed to a significant extent by his uncle ...

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Conway, Moncure Daniel (17 March 1832–15 November 1907), reformer, minister, and author, was born in Stafford County, Virginia, the son of Walker Peyton Conway, a planter and judge, and Margaret Eleanor Daniel, a self-taught homeopathic doctor. Born to privilege, Conway was expected to emulate powerful, prominent male relatives. But his desire to please his father was exceeded by the influence of his remarkable mother and other female relatives. Together, these women emphasized sharing over hierarchy, personal fulfillment as well as duty, and encouraged, despite his father’s disapproval, Conway’s love of literature....

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Fritchman, Stephen Hole (12 May 1902–31 May 1981), Unitarian minister and social activist, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Addison Hutton Fritchman, a salesman, and Esther Hole. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan College in 1924 and entered Union Theological Seminary in preparation for the Methodist ministry, graduating in 1927. That same year he married Frances Putnam. A gradually accumulating uneasiness with what he would later call “institutionalized piety” resulted in his conversion to Unitarianism in 1930, after which he held pastorates at Petersham, Massachusetts (1930–1932), and Bangor, Maine (1932–1938). During his Bangor pastorate, Fritchman distinguished himself in his work with high-school age youth and in 1938 was invited by American Unitarian Association (AUA) president ...

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Edward Everett Hale Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99518).

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Hale, Edward Everett (03 April 1822–10 June 1909), author, reformer, and Unitarian minister, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Hale, a journalist, and Sarah Preston Everett. His father was a nephew of revolutionary war hero Captain Nathan Hale, and his maternal uncle and namesake was the orator and statesman ...

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Higginson, Thomas Wentworth (22 December 1823–09 May 1911), minister, reformer, soldier, and author, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Stephen Higginson, Jr., a Boston merchant, and Louisa Storrow. Higginson enrolled at Harvard in 1837 and graduated second in his class. Unsure about his future, he matriculated in Harvard Divinity School, dropped out, and then reenrolled. He graduated in 1847. In the same year he married his second cousin, Mary Elizabeth Channing, the daughter of the dean of the Harvard Medical School....

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John Haynes Holmes, c. 1939–1941. Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112447).

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Holmes, John Haynes (29 November 1879–03 April 1964), Unitarian and later independent minister and a leading advocate of pacifism, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Marcus M. Holmes, a businessman, and Alice Haynes. Holmes was educated at Harvard College (A.B. 1902) and Harvard Divinity School (S.T.B. 1904) and entered the Unitarian ministry, holding early pastorates at Danvers (1902–1904) and Dorchester (1904–1907), Massachusetts, before moving in 1907 to the Church of the Messiah in New York City, where his influence as a minister dedicated to social reform began to be felt. In 1904 he married Madeleine Baker, with whom he had two children....

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May, Samuel Joseph (12 September 1797–01 July 1871), Unitarian minister and radical reformer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph May, a merchant, and Dorothy Sewall. May graduated from Harvard College (1817) and Harvard Divinity School (1820) and filled pulpits in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. In 1825 he married Lucretia Flagge Coffin, the daughter of a Boston merchant. Rearing their four children preoccupied his wife, but it also allowed her time to improve her French and learn Italian and promote the temperance cause....

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Parker, Theodore (24 August 1810–10 May 1860), Unitarian clergyman and social reformer, was born in Lexington, Massachusetts, the son of Hannah Stearns and John Parker, farmers. Many childhood activities on the family farm indicated that young Parker possessed an uncommonly high intellectual acumen and, like many talented youths in the Boston area, he enrolled at Harvard College. Financial difficulties intervened, however, and Parker never actually studied on campus. For several years he supported himself by teaching in local schools, mastering the Harvard curriculum through private effort. In 1830–1831 he passed all the college’s examinations, but as a nonresident he received no degree. When Parker applied for admission to Harvard Divinity School, no questions were raised about his capacity for learning, and he formally graduated from that institution in 1836. While there, he coedited the seminary’s journal, ...

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Sunderland, Jabez Thomas (11 February 1842–13 August 1936), Unitarian minister and social reformer, was born in Yorkshire, England, the son of Thomas Sunderland and Sarah Broadhead. The family moved from England to Chicago when he was two years old. During the Civil War he served with the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery. A graduate of the University of Chicago at its original site (B.A. 1867, M.A. 1869) and the Baptist Theological Union (1870), he first served Baptist congregations in Omaha and Milwaukee, adopting Unitarianism in 1872. While serving in Milwaukee, he married Eliza J. Read in 1871. The couple had three children....