It's My Story

Antoinette Brown Blackwell

Heroine Of Faith

Antoinette Louisa Brown, fondly called “Nettie,” was born in a log cabin in Henrietta, New York, on May 20, 1825 to Joseph Brown, a farmer, and Abby (Morse) Brown. Antoinette Brown was the seventh child in a family of ten.
Brown’s parents were devout Christians who were enthused by the Rev. Charles G. Finney and many of the revivals that were sweeping upstate New York at the time. She had been impacted by her family’s religious convictions from childhood, and by the age of nine, she had publicly declared her religion at the Congregational society and had been recognized as a member by the leaders.

Brown received her education at the Monroe County Academy and prior, at the local district school. She went on to teach for a few years before opting to further her education. Her father assisted her in pursuing her studies at Oberlin College in the “literary course.” She completed this study in 1847 and subsequently decided to pursue a theological degree at the same institution.  This was opposed by the Oberlin professors and also her family. Brown was determined, and the faculty eventually had to find a middle ground and let her attend lectures and accept invitations to preach.
They did not, however, grant her a license to preach, and she was not permitted to graduate after completing the course in 1850.


Brown became more engaged in the nineteenth-century women’s rights, temperance, and anti-slavery movements when she was a student at Oberlin. She gave many temperance talks in Ohio in 1847. She gave a speech on women’s rights at the Baptist church in Henrietta the same year.
She worked as a lecturer for a few years after graduating from college, giving speeches on various areas of the reform movement throughout New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New England. She also spoke in a number of early women’s rights conventions, including one in Syracuse, New York in 1852.
Brown had a particularly active year in 1853. She was a delegate to the World’s Temperance Convention in New York City and attended women’s rights meetings in New York City and Cleveland. At the Temperance Convention, severally, she attempted to speak but was shouted down by a hostile audience and eventually expelled because she was a woman.

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