Event—Scholarly Seminars

Christopher Allison, University of Chicago


Absent Icons: Harriet Newell, Ann Judson, and the Materiality of the Cult of Women Missionaries in 19th Century America, Christopher Allison

This essay examines the material culture of American female missionaries in the first half of the 19th century. The paper examines how American Protestant people sought to materially forge connections with these exceptional lives from a distance. The American-based culture of missionaries developed countless hagiographies of (largely dead) missionaries, pilgrimage sites, museums (traveling and permanent), relics, songs, printed portraits, institutional namesakes, and more. But why did the cult effloresce with such intensity? Why were missionaries turned into household saints? This paper focuses on two women, Harriet Newell and Ann Judson, and the content and causes of material devotion to their memory.

Respondent: Joseph Cochran, Trinity Christian College