Publication Year



Gender, female missionaries, Oregon Territory, Whitman, American West


Christianity | Social History | United States History | Women's History | Women's Studies


From the beginning, women who played an integral role in the Christian missionary movement of the nineteenth century. Responding tot eh call to "go and make disciples of all nations," female missionaries assumed numerous responsibilities, both on the mission field and in the home. During the first two decades of the nineteenth century, mission agencies sent missionaries to distant places such as Hawaii, India, and Asia. The land west of the Mississippi River was also considered a foreign mission field, however the early history of missionary work in this area discouraged the agencies from targeting it with their evangelistic efforts. This trend was reversed by 1833, when the news of an Indian delegation sent to St. Louis allegedly seeking the white man's religion had reached the ears and hearts of evangelical leaders on the East Coast. As a consequence, mission agencies made every effort to recruit people, including females, who were willing to carry the gospel to the West.

It is the intent of this paper to explore the effects of gender in the Christian missions of the American frontier through the experience of one particular female missionary, Narcissa Whitman.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status