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Coleman, Alice Blanchard Merriam (07 May 1858–22 October 1936), lay church leader, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of James Whyte Merriam, a city missionary, and Ellen Maria Blanchard. After she graduated from Bradford (Mass.) Academy in 1878, an eye condition kept her from learning a language, which was necessary for foreign mission service, so she joined the Woman’s Home Missionary Association (Congregational), was elected to its board of managers, and in 1884 toured mission stations as far west as Salt Lake City. Two years later, however, influenced in part by the pastor of Boston’s Clarendon Street Church, Adoniram Judson Gordon, an American (northern) Baptist, she changed denominations by joining that church. She then became active in the Woman’s American Baptist Home Mission Society (WABHMS) and served as its president from 1890 to 1909. The society’s headquarters was in Boston; it was primarily an eastern organization....

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MacLeish, Martha Hillard (17 August 1856–19 December 1947), religious and educational leader, was born in Hadlyme, Connecticut, the daughter of Elias Brewster Hillard, a Congregational minister, and Julia Whittlesey. After graduating from Vassar College in 1878 she taught school in Connecticut and spent three years at Vassar as a mathematics teacher. In 1884 she became principal of Rockford (Ill.) Seminary, whose founder had recently retired. Rockford, like Mount Holyoke Seminary, which it resembled, was in the process of becoming a genuine college. MacLeish raised academic standards, introduced an honors system, built a gymnasium, and increased social ties with the nearby men’s college, Beloit. She left Rockford in 1888 to become the third wife of Andrew MacLeish, a partner in the Chicago department store Carson, Pirie Scott. The couple had five children, including the poet ...

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Montgomery, Helen Barrett (31 July 1861–19 October 1934), Baptist church leader, civic reformer, and educator, was born in Kingsville, Ohio, the daughter of A. Judson Barrett and Emily Barrows, teachers. Her school years were spent in upstate New York, first in Lowville, then in Rochester. Her father, who she later said was a dominant influence in her life, left his teaching career to attend Rochester Theological Seminary, later assuming the pastorate of the Lake Avenue Baptist Church in Rochester....

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Lucy Waterbury Peabody Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107375).

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Peabody, Lucy Whitehead McGill Waterbury (02 March 1861–26 February 1949), Baptist and interdenominational lay leader in women's foreign mission organizations, Baptist and interdenominational lay leader in women’s foreign mission organizations, was born in Belmont, Kansas, the daughter of Canadian-born William McGill, a merchant, and Sarah Hart. Soon after Lucy’s birth the family moved to Pittsford, New York, her mother’s birthplace, and a few years later to nearby Rochester, where Lucy graduated from high school as valedictorian (1878) and taught for three years at the city’s State School for the Deaf. In 1881 she married Norman Waterbury, a recent graduate of Rochester Theological Seminary, and the couple soon sailed for Madras, India, under appointment of the American Baptist Missionary Union (ABMU) as missionaries to Telegu-speaking people. An outgoing, gregarious woman, Lucy Waterbury effectively conducted a teaching ministry among women. Her husband died of dysentery in November 1886, and the young widow arrived back in Rochester the following August with their two surviving children. (One other child had died.)...