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Bliss, William Dwight Porter (20 August 1856–08 October 1926), clergyman and reformer, was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul), the son of Edwin Elisha Bliss and Isabella Holmes Porter, Congregationalist missionaries from New England. A graduate of Amherst College (1878) and the Hartford Theological Seminary (1882), he served Congregational churches in Denver, Colorado, and South Natick, Massachusetts, from 1882 until 1885. In 1884 he married Mary Pangalo of Constantinople; they had two children....

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Crummell, Alexander (03 March 1819–10 September 1898), clergyman, activist, and Pan-Africanist, was born in New York City, the son of Charity Hicks, a freeborn woman of Long Island, New York, and Boston Crummell, an African of the Temne people, probably from the region that is now Sierra Leone. Boston Crummell had been captured and brought to the United States as a youth. The circumstances of his emancipation are not clear, but it is said that he simply refused to serve his New York owners any longer after reaching adulthood. Boston Crummell established a small oyster house in the African Quarter of New York. Alexander Crummell received his basic education at the African Free School in Manhattan. In 1835 he traveled to Canaan, New Hampshire, along with his friends Thomas Sidney and ...

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Murphy, Edgar Gardner (31 August 1869–23 June 1913), Episcopal clergyman and social reformer, was born near Fort Smith, Arkansas, the son of Samuel W. Murphy and Janie Gardner. When her husband, whose occupation is unknown, abandoned the family in 1874, Janie Gardner Murphy moved her children to San Antonio, Texas, where she earned a modest living by running a boardinghouse. Befriended by the local Episcopal priest, Walter Richardson, young Murphy chose to prepare for the ministry by entering the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1885. There he was deeply influenced by the philosophical theology of ...

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Pauli Murray Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109644).

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Murray, Pauli (20 November 1910–01 July 1985), lawyer, writer, and minister, was born Anna Pauline Murray in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of William Henry Murray, a public school teacher, and Agnes Fitzgerald, a nurse. Triracial, she had African, European, and Native American ancestry. Her parents both died when she was a child (her mother had a cerebral hemorrhage in March 1914; her father was murdered in a state hospital in June 1923), and she grew up from age three in North Carolina with her maternal grandparents and her mother’s oldest sister, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, a public school teacher who adopted her....

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Rainsford, William Stephen (30 October 1850–17 December 1933), clergyman and social reformer, was born near Dublin, Ireland, the son of Marcus Rainsford, an Anglican priest, and Louisa Anne Dickson. Rainsford moved to England in 1865 when his father took charge of a parish in London; he received his bachelor’s degree from Cambridge University, where he studied between 1870 and 1873. Ordained a deacon of the Church of England in December 1873 and a priest in 1874, he started his ministry as a curate at St. Giles’s parish in Norwich. Dissatisfied with English church life, however, he left Norwich in 1876 and spent the next two years working as a traveling preacher in Canada and the United States. Following a mission he led at St. James’ Cathedral in Toronto, Rainsford became assistant rector of that parish in 1878. In April of that year he married Emily Alma Green, a widow, with whom he had three children. He later married Harriette Rogers in 1926, three years after Emily died....

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Stuck, Hudson (11 November 1863–11 October 1920), Episcopal clergyman, social reformer, and author, was born in Paddington, England (a suburb of London), the son of James Stuck, a lumberyard foreman, and Jane Hudson. Upon completion of secondary education at King’s College, London, and service as secretary to the political maverick and businessman William Hall in Bristol, Stuck emigrated to the United States in 1885....

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Ward, Henry Dana (13 January 1797–29 February 1884), reformer and clergyman, was born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Walter Ward, a sheriff, and Elizabeth Denny. Ward studied history and classics at Harvard, where he earned a B.A. in 1816; in 1819 he earned an M.A. from Harvard. He married Abigail Porter Jones of Lebanon Springs, New York, in 1821. They had no children....

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Williams, Peter, Jr. (1780?–17 October 1840), clergyman and abolitionist, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Peter Williams, a slave, and Mary Durham, a black indentured servant from St. Kitts. A patriot soldier during the American Revolution, his father was sexton and undertaker for John Street Methodist Church in New York City. In an unusual arrangement, the church in 1783 purchased him from his departing Loyalist master and allowed him to purchase himself over time, completing his freedom in 1796. A founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church and a tobacconist and funeral home owner, he was a leader of the small black middle class in New York City....