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Antoinette Brown Blackwell

Image of Antoinette Brown Blackwell

Image from Scannell’s New Jersey’s First Citizens, 1917-1918: Biographies and Portraits of the Notable Living Men and Women of New Jersey with Informing Glimpses into the State’s History and Affairs. Vol. 1. Paterson, NJ: J.J. Scannell, 1917, page 49.

Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921) of Somerville founded the New Jersey Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1869 with her sister-in-law, Lucy Stone.

Blackwell served as the president of the Association from 1891 to 1892. She also fulfilled the duties of vice-president of the Association for the Advancement of Women (AAW) and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Additionally, at the age of 95, Blackwell was one of a few key early New Jersey suffragists who voted in the 1920 –presidential election.

Blackwell was also the first ordained woman minister in the United States and lectured on topics related to women’s rights, antislavery, and temperance. During her travels, she sparked controversy with her claim that the Bible supported the woman’s cause.

In 1875, Blackwell published The Sexes Throughout Nature where she argued for equality of the sexes through the study of nature. She believed that every species made an equal contribution to the history of evolution. She was elected a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1881.


Cazden, Elizabeth. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, a biography. Old Westbury, N.Y.: The Feminist Press, 1983. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/8346944

Lasser, Carol, and Marlene Deahl Merrill, eds. Friends and Sisters: Letters between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846-93. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.

Dykeman, Therese Boos. Woman’s Nature in Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921). 2019. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1190011003

Lyons, Courtney. “’Dont DONT D-O-N-T’ to ‘I Do’: Antoinette Brown Blackwell’s Relationship with Marriage.” Ohio History 117 (2010): 108-128.


Questions to Explore

What setbacks did Blackwell face for her controversial opinion of the Bible supporting the women’s cause?

What influenced Blackwell to become a minister?

What are some points Blackwell made about the equal contribution of sexes in the history of evolution?

Additional Resources

Hutton Nancy Sue Harvard University Janet Browne Ahmed Ragab Kimberley Patton and Sarah Richardson. 2015. “‘i Am Going to Do It’: The Complex Question of Action in Theology and Science in the Life of America’s First Woman Minister Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921).” Dissertation. Harvard University.  

Williams, Rebecca. 2011. “Antoinette Brown, James H. Fairchild and Oberlin College : A Look at the Forces against Women’s Ordination in the Mid-19th Century Protestant Establishment.” Dissertation. Claremont Graduate University.