Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Advisor/Committee Chair

David Hochfelder

Committee Member

Michael Taylor


This paper explores the life and career of one of the United States’ first female ministers, Rev. Annis Ford Eastman (1852-1910). Remembered today as being the author of Mark Twain’s eulogy and as the mother of American writer Max Eastman and co-author of the Equal Rights Amendment Crystal Eastman, the Reverend Eastman had a career that was exceptional in its own right. Reverend Eastman was ordained when it was practically unheard of for a woman to preach. Not only was she ordained but she was invited to speak at national conferences and was frequently published in religious and civic journals. Despite her skills as an orator, author, and theologian, her career was actualized, in part, because of her relationship with her husband, Rev. Samuel Eastman. Another contributing factor to her ordination was its location. The Eastmans moved around New York State’s Burned-Over District before settling in Elmira, just north of the Pennsylvania border. While the Burned-Over District had a rightful reputation for militant progressivism, Elmira was unique in its political situation. Mid-nineteenth-century Elmira was a hotbed for radical religious and political thought under the control of a politically progressive railroad tycoon. Annis Eastman’s career reached its peak in the 1890s, as the United States transitioned between the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. Her position as a woman minister and the politics that she espoused given her platform are emblematic of that shift.

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