Women Called to Witness, by Nancy Hardesty

Women Called to Witness: Evangelical Feminism in the Nineteenth Century is a recovery project of the history of women’s involvement and struggle for equality in the evangelical movement. It is an introductory text to the 19th century that focuses particularly on the religious actions of women.

The book focuses largely on women connected in some way to Charles Finney and the reform movements that were connected to his revivals. Hardesty moves quickly through the rise of Finney, the development of various forms of perfectionism, and the prevalence of women in social reform movements. While the book seems on one level to be simply moving thematically through the various venues of female reform activity during the century, the ending chapters reveal that the larger project of the book is presenting a case for the longstanding efforts by evangelical women to expand and transform gender roles and to claim their equality with men.

She is drawing heavily upon and reacting to historiography surrounding the feminization of American Christianity, including Barbara Welter, Nancy Cott, and Ann Douglas.