Antoinette Blackwell

Antoinette Blackwell, née Antoinette Louisa Brown

*May 20, 1825 (Henrietta, New York, United States)
†November 5, 1921 (Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States)

Spouse: Samuel Charles Blackwell,

Children: Florence, Edith, Grace, Ethel and Agnes Blackwell

Antoinette Blackwell was an American theologist, philosopher and the first woman to be ordained as a Protestant minister in the United States. Blackwell was born as the seventh child to Joseph Brown and Abby Morse in Henrietta, upstate New York. She was discovered to be a precocious child as early as three years old and began to speak at meetings of her family’s Congregational church at an early age. After studying at Monroe County Academy, she continued to work there as a teacher for a few years before she decided to pursue a higher education. She enrolled in the non-degree “Course for Ladies” at Oberlin College in 1846, the first to open its doors to women. After graduation, she insisted on being admitted to the theology course against the resistance of the faculty and was eventually allowed to attend lectures without being awarded a degree. After the completion of the course, Blackwell pursued a career as a lecturer, giving speeches on aspects of the reform movement and at women’s rights conventions, soon achieving a reputation as a renowned public speaker. On September 15, 1853, the Congregational Church of South Butler ordained her as their pastor, thus making her the first woman minister of a recognized denomination in the United States. In 1856, she married Samuel Charles Blackwell, with whom she had five daughters and who shared her believe that not just political, but also economic and social roles of both men and women needed to be radically transformed. Although she retired from her public role, Blackwell carried on with her studies, resulting in several, articles, novels, poems and books about social and philosophical issues. A year before her death in 1921, Blackwell was one of the very few pioneer suffragists who voted for the first time on November 2, 1920.

Read more about Antoinette Blackwell’s philosophy in the ECC.

  • Primary Sources

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1869. Studies in General Science. NY: G.P. Putnam.

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1871. The Island Neighbors. New York: Harper & Brothers.

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1875. The Sexes Throughout Nature. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1876. The Physical Basis of Immortality. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1893, The Philosophy of Individuality. New York: G.P. Putnam and Son.

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1902. Sea Drift. New York: J.T. White & Co.

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1914. The Making of the Universe. Boston, Massachusetts: The Gorham Press.

    Blackwell, Antoinette Brown 1915. The Social Side of Mind and Action. NY: Neale

  • Secondary Sources

    Cazden, Elizabeth. 1983. Antoinette Brown Blackwell: A Biography. Old Westbury, NY, Feminist Press.

    DuBois, Ellen Carol, 1978. Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women’s Movement in America. Ithaca, Cornell University Press.

    Dykeman, Therese Boos (ed.) 1999. The Neglected Canon: Nine Women Philosophers, First to the Twentieth Century. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Hamlin, Kimberly A. 2014. From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women’s Rights in Gilded Age America. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

    Hewitt, Nancy A. 1984. Women’s Activism and Social Change. Ithaca, Cornell University Press,.

    James, Edward T., Janet Wilson James and Paul S. Boyer, eds, 1971. Notable American Women. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press (Harvard University), vol. 1, pp. 158-160.

    Lasser, Carol and Marlene Deahl Merrill. Eds. 1987. Friends and Sisters: Letters between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell. Urbana and Chicago, IL, University of Illinois Press.

    Murphy, Julien S. 1991. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, in A History of Women Philosophers 1600–1900, vol. 3. Waithe, Mary Ellen (ed.). Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Online Sources
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