Antoinette Brown

Facts about Antoinette Brown

Antoinette Brown died at 96 years old
Born: May 20, 1825
Best known as: The first clergywoman in the United States


Antoinette Brown Biography

Antoinette Brown was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1853 as pastor of the Congregational Church of South Butler, New York, thus becoming the first clergywoman in United States history.

Encouraged by her mother to pursue a childhood call to the ministry, “Nettie” Brown faced constant obstacles: Ohio’s Oberlin College grudgingly admitted her to religious studies but refused her a degree, and a Methodist clergyman presided at her ordination when Congregationalist ministers wouldn’t.

She left the South Butler church in less than a year. Before and after ordination, she was a prominent public speaker and activist for women’s rights and against slavery and alcohol consumption.

She earned headlines in Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune in 1853 when a male-dominated national temperance convention expelled her for trying to speak.

After a long period devoted to family and to writing books on philosophy and science, she became a minister in the American Unitarian Association in 1878 and in 1879 resumed lecturing and occasional preaching.

She organized and briefly led a Unitarian congregation in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1903.

Extra credit

She married Samuel Blackwell in 1856. They had seven children, five of whom survived infancy… Her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Blackwell, was the first woman to earn a medical degree.


Related Biography

Something in Common with Antoinette Brown