Promoters of foreign missions in the early republic produced memoirs of missionary wives to capitalize on the potent combination of education, revivalism, and limited career opportunities available to young white women in the Northeast as well as the growing print culture that incorporated female readers and writers. These posthumously edited memoirs reflected real patterns that had emerged in the lives of many women, and they prescribed ways for women to respond to their circumstances that were not too threatening to mainstream evangelicals, thus addressing concerns that many Americans shared about the potential for empowerment that new educational opportunities and evangelical reform movements opened up. The subjects of missionary memoirs did not challenge male authority in the public sphere, but they autonomously chose marriage to a missionary as a way to achieve significance, rendering them appealing as role models to pious and ambitious young women. The resultant popularity of missionary memoirs then could be used by missions promoters as evidence for the importance of women's involvement in foreign missions, even above women's other roles in American society.


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pp. 37-60
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