In May of 2020 I finished my thesis at Auburn and graduated with an MA in History. My research has been graciously supported by the Auburn University History Department and I have done research at the American Antiquarian Society and the John Rylands Library. Below is the abstract of my thesis.
As part of the pulpit in the early republic, female preachers created their own identities separate from the domestic sphere by forging successful careers as religious authorities speaking in public. Bolstered by a growing rejection of the authority of educated clergymen, the idea of election, and the acceptance of the primacy of emotional conversions and universal salvation, opportunities for female preaching arose despite the disdain from more established religious institutions and male clergy. Groups such as sectarian Methodists and Baptists, and others such as the Christian Connexion, utilized female preachers because of their speaking talent and ability to connect with listeners. Female preachers successfully converted listeners, fostering emotional religious experiences and conversions, especially for women. They created more female preachers by providing support for establishing a preaching career. By working and traveling together, successful women provided more opportunities for other women to preach in new places. American and British female itinerant preachers relied on an informal network of communication and exchange that allowed platforms for preaching, companionship, financial and emotional support during travels in the early nineteenth century.