Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell, "American minister and reformer. She was born in Henrietta N.Y., on May 20, 1825, and began to speak publicly in the services of the local Congregational church at age nine. She was graduated from Oberlin College in 1847 and completed its theological seminary in 1850, though she was not granted her degree. (Oberlin later conferred on her an honorary A.M.[Master of Arts], in 1878, and a D.D.[Doctor of Divinity], in 1908.) Refused ordination at first because of her sex, she held a Congregationalist pastorate in South Butler, N.Y., for four years; she became the first ordained woman minister in the United States on her ordination on Sept. 15, 1853, but was dismissed in July 1854, evidently by her own wish. She later became a Unitarian.
In 1856 she married Samuel C. Blackwell, whose brother, Henry B. Blackwell, had married her Oberlin College friend Lucy Stone. The family settled in New Jersey. Mrs. Blackwell preached frequently in Unitarian and other liberal pupits. Active as a speaker and writer for women's rights, temperance, abolition of slavery, and other causes, she preached her last sermon when she was 90 years old, and her last book appeared when she was 93. She died in Elizabeth, N.J., on Nov. 5, 1921."
(Paul S. Boyer [University of Massachusetts]The Encyclopedia Americana -- International Edition Vol. 4. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1995. 47-48)
For more information on the web about the history of women's leadership in reform movements, please see the history section of the site "Women in Politics".
For a short biography of Antoinette Brown Blackwell's great friend and sister-in-law Lucy Stone, please click here. To read two remarkable letters of exchange between them, please click here.