Charlotte Atlee White Rowe
The Story of America's First Appointed Woman Missionary
- ISBN: 9780881468038
- Published By: Mercer University Press
- Published: November 2021
Charlotte Atlee White was the first woman officially appointed as a missionary by any denomination or mission agency. The scandal of her 1815 appointment required her to prevail over gender bias, survive attempts to revoke her appointment, and surmount the challenge of insufficient funding. After marrying Joshua Rowe, a widowed missionary in Calcutta in 1816, she remained in India to serve with the British Baptists. There she overcame local prejudice against educating girls while starting schools, teaching in Hindi, and writing a Hindi spelling and grammar book as teaching aids. She confronted new scandal arising when her confidential correspondence was repurposed in America for anti-missionary propaganda. Her developing missiology critiqued the role of money in mission and the system of language acquisition for new missionaries. Following her husband's death in 1823, she continued to work alone while adapting her approach to the local culture. Eventually forced to seek financial aid in London, she found that official appointment by British Baptists would cause as much scandal in England as it had earlier in America. Her decade of work in India was now over. Charlotte White Rowe's consistent omission from early mission accounts led to her subsequent absence in histories of mission and gender studies. Based on sources in England, India, and America, her reclaimed story corrects numerous inaccuracies that appear in the few earlier references to her. Hers was a key element in the century-long process through which single and married women finally gained equal missionary appointment with men.