Humanities › History & Culture Antoinette Brown Blackwell Early Ordination Share Flipboard Email Print Antoinette Brown Blackwell. Kean Collection / Getty Images History & Culture Women's History Important Figures History Of Feminism Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated November 16, 2020 Known for: first woman in the United States ordained by a congregation in a major Christian denomination Dates: May 20, 1825 - November 5, 1921 Occupation: minister, reformer, suffragist, lecturer, writer Antoinette Brown Blackwell Biography Born on a farm in frontier New York, Antoinette Brown Blackwell was the seventh of ten children. She was active from the age of nine in her local Congregational church, and decided to become a minister. Oberlin College After teaching for a few years, she enrolled in one of the few colleges open to women, Oberlin College, taking the women's curriculum and then the theological course. However, she and another woman student were not permitted to graduate from that course, because of their gender. At Oberlin College, a fellow student, Lucy Stone, became a close friend, and they maintained this friendship throughout life. After college, not seeing options in ministry, Antoinette Brown began lecturing on women's rights, enslavement, and temperance. Then she found a position in 1853 at the South Butler Congregational Church in Wayne County, New York. She was paid the small annual salary (even for that time) of $300. Ministry and Marriage It was not long, however, before Antoinette Brown realized that her religious views and ideas about women's equality were more liberal than those of the Congregationalists. An experience in 1853 also may have added to her unhappiness: she atttended the World's Temperance Convention but, though a delegate, was refused the right to speak. She asked to be let go from her ministerial position in 1854. After some months in New York City working as a reformer while writing of her experiences for the New York Tribune, she married Samuel Blackwell on January 24, 1856. She met him at the 1853 temperance convention, and discovered that he shared many of her beliefs and values, including supporting women's equality. Antoinette's friend Lucy Stone had married Samuel's brother Henry in 1855. Elizabeth Blackwell and Emily Blackwell, pioneer women physicians, were sisters of these two brothers. After the Blackwell's second daughter was born in 1858, Susan B. Anthony wrote to her to urge that she have no more children. "[T]wo will solve the problem, whether a woman can be any thing more than a wife and mother better than a half dozzen, or Ten even..." While raising five daughters (two others died in infancy), Blackwell read widely, and took special interest in natural topics and philosophy. She remained active in women's rights and the North American 19th-century Black activist movement. She also traveled widely. Antoinette Brown Blackwell's speaking talents were well known, and put to good use in the cause of woman suffrage. She aligned herself with her sister-in-law Lucy Stone's wing of the woman suffrage movement. Her dissatisfaction with the Congregational church led her to switch her allegiance to the Unitarians in 1878. In 1908 she took a preaching position with a small church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which she held until her death in 1921. Antoinette Brown Blackwell lived long enough to vote in the presidential election of November, woman suffrage having taken effect earlier that year. Facts About Antoinette Brown Blackwell Collected Papers: The Blackwell family papers are at the Schlesinger Library of Radcliffe College. Also known as: Antoinette Louisa Brown, Antoinette Blackwell Family, Background: Mother: Abby Morse BrownFather: Joseph Brown Education: Oberlin College 1847: "Ladies Literary Course," a 2 year literary curriculumOberlin, Theology degree: 1847-1850. No degree, because she was a woman. Degree granted later, in 1878.Oberlin, honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree, 1908. Marriage, Children: Husband: Samuel Charles Blackwell, a businessman and brother to Elizabeth Blackwell and Emily Blackwell (married January 24, 1856; died 1901)Children: sevenFlorence Brown Blackwell (November 1856)Mabel Brown Blackwell (April 1858, died August 1858)Edith Brown Blackwell (December 1860) - became a physicianGrace Brown Blackwell (May 1863)Agnes Brown Blackwell (1866)Ethel Brown Blackwell (1869) - became a physician Ministry Ordination: 1853Ministry: Congregational Church, South Butler, NY, 1853-1854Ministry: All Souls Unitarian Church, Elizabeth, NJ, preacher 1908-1921 Books About Antoinette Brown Blackwell: Elizabeth Cazden. Antoinette Brown Blackwell: A Biography. 1983.Carol Lassner and Marlene Deahl Merrill, editors. Friends and Sisters: Letters Between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846-93. 1987.Carol Lassner and Marlene Deahl Merrill, editors. Soul Mates: The Oberlin Correspondence of Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown, 1846 - 1850. 1983.Elizabeth Munson and Greg Dickinson. "Hearing Women Speak: Antoinette Brown Blackwell and the Dilemma of Authority." Journal of Women's History, Spring 1998, p. 108.Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore. A Woman of the Century. 1893. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage. History of Woman Suffrage, Volumes I and II. 1881 and 1882.