Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Rebecca Tuuri

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Heather Stur

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Andrew Haley

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Deanne Stephens

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Delane Tew


Southern Baptist women’s collegiate education and experiences led to their questioning traditional Baptist gender roles and interpreting religion to fit a modern, progressive worldview. Judson College established in 1838 in Marion, Alabama, created a space for its Baptist students to consider socially appropriate ways, outside of doctrinal boundaries, to serve God, themselves, their families, and humanity. Judson remained theologically and culturally conservative, perpetuating inherited religious and social notions of female subordination to men, while increasingly offering students more progressive curricula to meet changing economic and cultural realities. In compliance with white Southern and Baptist conservative values, Judson’s students generally accepted cultural and religious notions of gender, race, and class hierarchies. However, the school operated as a space for young women to develop identities less dependent on tradition and more open to considering alternate ways to view or serve the world. The school publicly celebrated female intellectual growth, instituted female-led organizations, pushed students toward paid employment, and encouraged women to serve as missionaries, all things that supported its students to embrace facets of themselves beyond their positions as dependent women. Building on their collegiate experiences, these elite, white women stretched the contours of respectable Southern Baptist womanhood by refusing to remain quiet and inside their homes, two traditional Biblical and social requirements for Baptist women.