The Religious History of American Women

Reimagining the Past

Edited by Catherine A. Brekus

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 9 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5800-4
    Published: April 2007
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6799-0
    Published: November 2009

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More than a generation after the rise of women's history alongside the feminist movement, it is still difficult, observes Catherine Brekus, to locate women in histories of American religion. Mary Dyer, a Quaker who was hanged for heresy; Lizzie Robinson, a former slave and laundress who sold Bibles door to door; Sally Priesand, a Reform rabbi; Estela Ruiz, who saw a vision of the Virgin Mary--how do these women's stories change our understanding of American religious history and American women's history?

In this provocative collection of twelve essays, contributors explore how considering the religious history of American women can transform our dominant historical narratives. Covering a variety of topics--including Mormonism, the women's rights movement, Judaism, witchcraft trials, the civil rights movement, Catholicism, everyday religious life, Puritanism, African American women’s activism, and the Enlightenment--the volume enhances our understanding of both religious history and women’s history. Taken together, these essays sound the call for a new, more inclusive history.


Ann Braude, Harvard Divinity School

Catherine A. Brekus, University of Chicago Divinity School

Anthea D. Butler, University of Rochester

Emily Clark, Tulane University

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, University of Notre Dame

Amy Koehlinger, Florida State University

Janet Moore Lindman, Rowan University

Susanna Morrill, Lewis and Clark College

Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Augustana College

Pamela S. Nadell, American University

Elizabeth Reis, University of Oregon

Marilyn J. Westerkamp, University of California, Santa Cruz

About the Author

Catherine A. Brekus is associate professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School and author of Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845 (from the University of North Carolina Press).

For more information about Catherine A. Brekus, visit the Author Page.


"Framed by Brekus's probing examination of the field, these essays invite scholars to quit stalling and accept the challenge to re-think American religious history."--The Journal of American History

"These twelve essays make fascinating reading. Together they make clear how much we miss of American religious history if we ignore the role of women of many ethnic and religious backgrounds."--The Catholic Historical Review

“Reminds readers that a history that includes women will both enrich and alter one’s understanding of American religious history. . . . Recommended.”--CHOICE

“The editor’s programmatic introduction combines with well-researched and creatively conceived individual chapters to produce a landmark volume.”--Christian Century

"Innovative and engaging. . . . The academics and students who will likely make up this volume's main audience are in for a treat."--Publishers Weekly

"These essays challenge historians to question the traditional narratives of the religious history of America . . . [and] provide models that can be used for further exploration and incorporation of women into American religious history."--The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society