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Bingham, Sybil Moseley (14 September 1792–27 February 1848), missionary and teacher, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the eldest child of Pliny Moseley and Sophia Pomeroy. Both parents had died by the time Sybil was nineteen, and she supported her three younger sisters by accepting teaching positions in Hartford, Connecticut; Canandaigua, New York; and Ontario Female Seminary. Invited by friends, she attended the ordination ceremony of ...

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Boardman, Sarah Hall (04 November 1803–01 September 1845), Baptist missionary and translator, was born in Alstead, New Hampshire, the daughter of Ralph Hall and Abiah O. Hall (her maiden name). Sarah learned Latin, read widely in Christian apologetics and philosophy, and taught school for a time. She was also a writer and poet, and as the eldest of thirteen children, she helped to raise her siblings. Sarah converted to the Christian faith at age sixteen and was baptized by Lucius Bolles, a Baptist pastor in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1825 she married the Reverend George Dana Boardman; they had three children. The couple then accepted a missionary assignment with the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions in Burma. Temporarily detained in Calcutta, India, due to the Burmese War, they arrived in Moulmain in 1827 and settled in Tavoy in 1828. In 1831 George died, and Boardman was left with her children in Tavoy, which was under military siege....

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Fiske, Fidelia (01 May 1816–26 July 1864), missionary and educator, was born in Shelburne, Massachusetts, the daughter of Rufus Fisk, a farmer and cooper, and Hannah Woodward. (Descended from William Fiske, who had settled in Salem in 1637, she preferred that spelling of her surname.) Her father instructed her in the Bible and encouraged her avid reading, including such works as ...

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Hayden, Mother Bridget (26 August 1814–23 January 1890), Roman Catholic missionary nun and educator, was born Margaret Hayden in Kilkenny, Ireland, the daughter of Thomas Hayden and Bridget Hart. She and her family emigrated to the United States around 1820, settling in Perryville, Missouri, where her Father worked as a wheelwright. She attended schools at the Barrens near Perryville and at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Both schools were run by the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross, a congregation of Catholic women religious of chiefly American origin. After two of her sisters joined the congregation, Hayden followed their example in 1841, taking the religious name of Sister Mary Bridget. She received her early training at Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, and at the congregation’s mother house in Loretto, Kentucky....

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Judd, Laura Fish (02 April 1804–02 October 1872), missionary and historian, was born in Plainfield, New York, the daughter of Elias Fish, a carpenter and sailor, and Sybil Williams. After her mother’s death in 1806, she and her six older brothers were raised by an elder sister. Laura was educated at a boarding school from the age of four and lived for a time in the home of her maternal grandfather. After her elder sister married, she lived with the couple in Watertown, New York. At the age of fourteen she accepted a position in the home of her schoolmaster, exchanging domestic service for her education. In 1819 she accepted a teaching position in Mexico, Oswego County, New York, where she lived with a brother....

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Miner, Sarah Luella (30 October 1861–02 December 1935), missionary educator in China, was born in Oberlin, Ohio, the daughter of Daniel Irenaeus Miner, a missionary and teacher, and Lydia Jane Cooley. One of seven children and the only survivor among the eldest four, Luella received the special and solitary attention of her father in the family’s posts on the Kansas plains and at Tougaloo University in Mississippi. She graduated from the normal department at Tougaloo, the only white student in her class....

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Packard, Sophia Betsey (03 January 1824–21 June 1891), educator and home missionary, was born in New Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter of Winslow Packard and Rachel Freeman, farmers. During Packard’s childhood she and her family attended the Baptist church in North Prescott, a town near New Salem. She received a diploma from the Charlestown (Mass.) Female Academy in 1850, then taught at a number of New England schools before accepting in 1854 the position of preceptress and teacher at the New Salem Academy. There she met Harriet Giles, a twenty-year-old senior student and “assistant pupil.” Vowing to establish a school of their own, the two women became lifelong friends and co-workers. They later taught at schools in the villages of Petersham and Orange, Massachusetts, before opening their own school in 1859 at Fitchburg, fifty miles northwest of Boston. Trustees of the Connecticut Literary Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, soon persuaded Packard, however, to accept the position as preceptress at their school. Giles also joined the faculty of this Baptist-controlled institution, and both women remained there from 1859 to 1864....

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Porter, Eliza Emily Chappell (05 November 1807–01 January 1888), educator, relief worker, and missionary, was born in Geneseo, New York, the daughter of Robert Chappell and Elizabeth Kneeland, farmers. In 1811 her father died, increasing her emotional attachment to her highly religious mother. Nevertheless, when affluent relatives offered a home to the bright, attractive child, she agreed to live with them in Franklin, New York. She was educated with the family’s children but could not overcome her longing for her mother and guilt at the separation. She returned at twelve and, amid bouts of illness made worse by harsh medical treatments, sought comfort in religion. She joined the Presbyterian church in 1822; at fifteen she and her mother moved to Rochester to continue her education. Upon the death of her sister in childbirth, both returned to Geneseo....

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Thurston, Matilda Smyrell Calder (16 May 1875–18 April 1958), founder and first president of Ginling College for Women, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of George Calder, a carpenter, and Margery Patterson. Both of her parents had emigrated from Great Britain. Staunch Presbyterians, they maintained a tightly knit family. Matilda Calder left home for the first time to enter Mount Holyoke College, where she thrived on the intellectual stimulus of college life. In her senior year at Mount Holyoke, her interest in a missionary career was aroused by the visit of missionaries to the college and by her participation in a mission study class on India. She soon joined the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (SVM). This organization, founded in 1886, encouraged college students to become missionaries....

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Wright, Sela Goodrich (21 July 1816–09 July 1906), educator and missionary, was born in Pompey, New York, the son of John Wright and Betsy Goodrich, farmers. The family moved to Medina, Ohio, after 1830. Wright enrolled in the preparatory department of Oberlin College in 1840 but left three years later, before completing a degree. He went to northern Minnesota to become one of the first members of the “Oberlin Band,” a group of evangelical missionaries working with the Ojibwa (Chippewa) tribe. The mission was sponsored originally by Oberlin College students, then was adopted, in 1847 or 1848, by the American Missionary Association (AMA), a predominantly Congregationalist body. The members of the mission worked without compensation other than donations of used clothing, food, and tools....