American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice

Article excerpt

American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice.

By Dana L. Robert. Macon, Ga.: Mercer Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. xxii, 444. Paperback $30. Women have played central roles in the American foreign mission movement from its inception, yet scholars have paid little attention to the principles and strategies that guided women's mission work at home and abroad. Dana Robert offers a first attempt to examine women's part in the creation of American mission theories. Drawing on a wide variety of published and unpublished sources, Robert offers a richly suggestive study of women's contributions to the missionary movement. Her book is part of a series appraising modern missions edited by Wilbert Shenk. Robert chose to organize her work around case studies detailing the approach of groups of women in a particular time period. She focuses on groups that seemed in their day to be on the cutting edge of mission theory-the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Baptists, Methodists, faith missions, the Maryknoll Sisters. The book is full of stories drawn from journals, diaries, letters, and mission publications that offer insights into women's feelings, motives, and relationships with institutional structures. These sources are widely scattered and often rare, and one of the book's major contributions is in demonstrating their richness. The footnotes and bibliography offer an invaluable introduction to the literature of American women in mission. …