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News, events, updates, and tidbits from the Presbyterian Historical Society. Use tags to read related articles or sort by author for similar posts written by PHS staff members and volunteers.

March 15, 2017

After viewing the groundbreaking movie Hidden Figures, which tells the story of three African American women mathematicians, I found myself searching for any and all information I could locate about the real life women the movie is based on.

I started with a fantastic book written by Margot Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, and was pleasantly...

March 16, 2016

In post-Gold Rush California, San Francisco’s Chinatown was ruled by tongs—secret associations of Chinese men who originally banded together to defend themselves against the xenophobia of the West but devolved into warring gangs in a violent underworld of human and drug trafficking. In this terrifying landscape, a young Scottish missionary from New Zealand managed to infiltrate the Chinese underworld to save more than 3,000 women and children from slavery. To the tongs she was known as Fahn Quai, the White Devil; to those she saved she was Lo Mo, Beloved...

March 14, 2016

The Reverend Susan Barnes’s quilts are works of art—meticulous, expressive, and compelling. Susan created these quilts with small squares of fabric to commemorate women’s ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and in the process connected past efforts at inclusiveness with new initiatives within the Church.

While focusing on women’s ordination[1], Susan wanted her quilts to show the service of all...

July 14, 2015

Last month I was lucky enough to travel to Minneapolis, MN, to represent the Presbyterian Historical Society at the triennial Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women. As a new employee at PHS, I looked forward to learning about PW firsthand.

At the OGA booth, I joined my PHS colleagues Lisa Jacobson and Beth Hessel, as well as other representatives from the Office of the General Assembly. Throughout the Gathering we spoke with many wonderful women who had invested terrific amounts of time and...

March 13, 2015

Several American denominations ordained female ministers during the 19th century, including the United Church of Christ, the Universalists (who later merged with the Unitarians), and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. But it wasn’t until the decades following World War II that most Mainline Protestant faiths allowed women to serve as clergy. The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., also known as the PCUSA or “Northern” church, ordained its first female minister, Margaret Towner, in...

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