I am an independent scholar living in Guelph, Ontario. While holding graduate degrees in church history, I became interested in women’s history, and now I write on many aspects of women in the Christian church in North America. My books include Canadian Methodist Women, 1766-1925: Marys, Marthas, Mothers in Israel and The Life and Letters of Annie Leake Tuttle: Working for the Best. My forthcoming book is The Life of Isabel Crawford: More Than I Asked For, to be published by Wipf and Stock Publishers.
The longer story:
I entered Oberlin College as a music major, not intending to become a solo performer but perhaps a school music teacher like my father. In those days students had to take a lot of required courses, and when I took a course in religious studies, I was hooked. I changed my major, and after I graduated, I spent a year at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York, to earn an M.A. in church history. After working for two years, I returned to Columbia and Union to begin work on a Ph.D. After three years and when I had completed all the research for my dissertation, I needed a job. I spent the next two years teaching religious studies at Bennett College in North Carolina. I loved teaching, and it was a stimulating experience to be working at a woman’s college for African Americans at a time when the civil rights movement was still active.
Then everything changed. I married a Canadian, and two days after our wedding I was a Canadian resident. I was able to do sessional teaching in one nearby university and then another, and I completed my dissertation, defending it about six weeks before our first son was born. We had another son, and I did teaching, but then the possibilities for teaching nearby and in my field dried up as one university tightened adjusted to its earlier over-expansion and the other wrestled with the ending of many core course requirements. What was I to do?
I knew that I wanted to do research and writing in the general field of church history but not in my specific area of early Christian history. I didn’t think the world needed to know more about John Scotus Erigena’s doctrine of redemption, which had been the subject of my dissertation! And so I volunteered to help at the archives of my denomination, the United Church of Canada, and soon I became a member of the staff. Through indexing a 19th century Methodist newspaper, through conversation with the staff and others, and through reading on my own, I got a solid education in the history of Christianity in Canada.
And I learned something else at the same time: women’s history had been discovered! Certainly women had no history when I was a student, or so it seemed. But now a few people were learning to read women back into history, and I decided to join them, looking especially at the unheralded roles that women had played in Canadian churches. Gradually I did research and writing and began giving papers at meetings of academic associations. Since my background was Methodist and the news paper I was indexing was Methodist, my specialty became Canadian women, though my interests were much broader.
Eventually I left the archives and, shyly at first, began to identify myself as an independent scholar. I looked for opportunities and, to my surprise, opportunities began to come to me unbidden. There are too many stories to tell here. Instead, please look at my “Writings” page to see some of them. What started out for me as a second-choice career has become a very fulfilling one indeed.