The Religious World of Antislavery Women, by Anna Speicher

The Religious World of Antislavery Women: Spirituality in the Lives of Five Abolitionist Lecturers is a group biography of Sarah and Angelina Gimké, Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelly Foster, and  Sallie Holley. These five women, who actively lectured and agitated for abolition during the mid-1800s, have a complicated religious history that is often presented in overly-simplified fashions by historians interested in questions of the women’s rights and suffrage or abolition. Speicher sets out to retell their history by highlighting how religion played a central role in the careers of each, both in motivating their activities and in shaping their interpretation of the world and their place it in.

Speicher does well handling the spirituality of each of these women on its own terms, describing and honoring the religious struggles they express and the solutions they pursue. Her research and approach reveals that each, though often outside of the bounds of organized religion per se, was deeply shaped by religious seeking and saw her work as an essential part of a religious calling. She interprets their challenges to religious norms as motivated not by a rejection of religion but by a desire for religion to be more.