Webb, Mary (1779-1861)

Pioneer in organizing American women for the support of missions

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Webb contracted a disease at the age of five that confined her to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. In 1800, at age 21, she successfully challenged the prevailing view of the role of women in society by organizing a group of thirteen women who founded the Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes. Webb served as the society’s secretary and treasurer for 56 years. Although a Baptist, she was ecumenical in her approach to world evangelism. She furthered the cause of mission for more than 50 years, inspiring the foundation of numerous mission and benevolent organizations and promoting cooperation among more than 200 women’s missionary societies. Webb encouraged women to contribute a sum of two dollars annually to support the efforts of various missionary societies at home and abroad and to provide for the translation and publication of the Scriptures. Despite her accomplishments, she chose to remain in obscurity from the public eye.Webb

Joan R. Duffy, “Webb, Mary,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 720.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Mary Webb is buried at 170 Savin Ave., in Woodlawn Cemetery, 302 Elm St., Everett, MA,02149 (photo courtesy of Bill Yoder, April 2008).



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Robert. Dana L. American Women in Mission: A Social History of their Thought and Practice. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1996.

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Vail, Albert. Mary Webb and the Mother Society. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1914.

_____. The Morning Hour of American Baptist Missions. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907.