Child, Abbie B. (1840-1902)

Leader of Protestant foreign missions work

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Child served as home secretary of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Congregational Church and editor of Life and Light for Women from 1870 until her death. During this time, she developed fifteen auxiliaries and many local branches of the board. In London in 1888, at the Centenary Conference on Protestant Missions of the World, she presented an inspiring paper encouraging women’s increased participation in missions. At that conference, leaders from women’s foreign missions boards in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain initiated the World’s Missionary Committee of Christian Women, electing Child as chair. Under her leadership, the Committee held a conference of women’s missionary societies during the Woman’s Congress of Missions in Chicago in 1893; it planned sessions on women’s work for the Ecumenical Missionary Conference in New York in 1900; and it formed the Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions, which produced books and study material for all the American women’s boards. Child instituted a weekly hour of prayer, from five to six o’clock each Sunday, for all member societies of the World’s Missionary Committee. Other boards followed suit by observing days or weeks for the World Day of Prayer.

Child made two journeys around the world to visit the mission fields in Turkey and Spain (1888) and in China, Japan, and India (1895-1896). She died suddenly at her home in Boston. The World’s Missionary Committee existed nominally for a few more years after her death, and then was succeeded by the Interdenominational Conference of Woman’s Boards of Foreign Missions.

Bibliography

Digital Texts


In Memoriam: Abbie B. Child, April 8, 1840, November 9, 1902. Boston: Woman’s Board of Missions, 1902.

Child, Abbie B. “Miss Eliza Agnew, Ceylon’s ‘Mother of a Thousand Daughters,’ 1807-1883.” In Augustus Charles Thompson, William Pakenham Walsh, Simon James Humphrey, Harlan Page Beach, Abbie B. Child, and Arthur Tappan Pierson, Modern Apostles of Missionary Byways, 70-80. New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1899.

Primary


Child, Abbie B. “Miss Eliza Agnew, Ceylon’s ‘Mother of a Thousand Daughters,’ 1807-1883.” In Augustus Charles Thompson, William Pakenham Walsh, Simon James Humphrey, Harlan Page Beach, Abbie B. Child, and Arthur Tappan Pierson, Modern Apostles of Missionary Byways, 70-80. New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1899.

Secondary


Beaver, R. Pierce. American Protestant Women in World Mission: History of the Feminist Movement in North America. 1968.

“Death of Miss Abbie B. Child.” In Misisonary Herald 98 (1902).

Hill, Patricia R. The World Their Household: The American Woman’s Foreign Mission Movement and Cultural Transformations, 1870-1920. 1985.

“In Memoriam.” In Light and Life for Women 32 no. 12 (December 1902).

In Memoriam: Abbie B. Child, April 8, 1840, November 9, 1902. Boston: Woman’s Board of Missions, 1902.