Agnes Baldwin Alexander
Agnes Baldwin Alexander was born July 21, 1875 in the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was the youngest of five children born to William De Witt Alexander and Abigail Charlotte née Baldwin Alexander.
Miss Alexander’s was a scion of two of Hawaii’s most illustrious Christian missionary families—the Alexanders and the Baldwins. Her father, Prof. William De Witt Alexander was one of Hawaii’s most famous men; he was President of Oahu College, author of "A Brief History of the Hawaiian People" and first Surveyor-General of the Hawaiian Islands.
Miss Alexander attended Punahou School and did undergraduate work at Oberlin College and U.C. Berkeley. After teaching for a few years she fell prey to chronic illness. In 1900 she joined a group of Islanders who where going on a tour of Europe. In Rome in November 1900 she encountered an American Bahá’í woman and her two daughters who were returning from a Bahá’í pilgrimage in the Holy Land, then called Syria. As the result of an epiphany one night, which she described as “neither a dream nor vision”, she embraced the Bahá’í Revelation and accepted its new Manifestation, Bahá’u’lláh, whose name means ‘The Glory of God’.
At the request of Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Miss Alexander pioneered the Bahá’í Faith in Japan in 1914. In 1921 she became the first to introduce the New Gospel in Korea. Except for extended vacations in Hawaii, Agnes spent over thirty years in Japan.
Miss Alexander became an early advocate of Esperanto and used that new international language to spread the Bahá’í teachings at meetings and conferences.
At the request of Bahá’u’lláh’s great-grandson, Agnes Alexander wrote two histories: "Forty Years of the Bahá’í Cause in Hawaii: 1902-1942" and "History of the Bahá’í Faith in Japan: 1914-1938". Both of these volumes were published posthumously.
In 1957 the head of the Bahá’í Faith, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, appointed Agnes Alexander a Hand of the Cause of God, the highest rank one may hold as an individual Bahá’í.
In 1964 Miss Alexander represented the Universal House of Justice, supreme administrative body of the Bahá’í Faith, at the election of Hawaii’s first National Spiritual Assembly in Honolulu. After suffering a broken hip in 1965, and spending two years in a Tokyo hospital, Agnes Alexander returned home to Honolulu in 1967. Ironically, the Arcadia residence where she passed her last four years was adjacent to her birthplace on Punahou Street.
On January 1st, 1971 Miss Alexander passed out of this life. She was buried behind Kawaiahao Church with her missionary forebears.
Agnes Alexander is related to several notable people including: Amos Starr Cooke, David Dwight Baldwin, William Owen Smith, Samuel T. Alexander, Henry P. Baldwin, Annie Montague Alexander, and others. Her parents were William D. Alexander and Abigail Baldwin and grandparents William P. Alexander and Mary Ann McKinney from her father, and Dwight Baldwin and Charlotte Fowler through her mother.
Alexander wrote one book on the history of the Bahá'í Faith in Japan and was covered in detail by a number of other books.
- Alexander, Agnes Baldwin (1977). Barbara Sims, ed. History of the Bahá'í Faith in Japan 1914-1938. Osaka, Japan: Japan Bahá'í Publishing Trust.
- Troxel, Duane K. (1984)"Agnes Baldwin Alexander"'in Notable Women of Hawaii Ed. Barbara Bennett Peterson University of Hawaii Press.
- R. Sims, Barbara (1989). Traces That Remain: A Pictorial History of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Faith Among the Japanese. Osaka, Japan: Japan Bahá'í Publishing Trust.
- R. Sims, Barbara (1992). Japan Will Turn Ablaze! Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Letters of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, and Historical Notes About Japan (Revised Edition). Osaka, Japan: Japan Bahá'í Publishing Trust.
- R. Sims, Barbara (1994). Selected Communications from the Universal House of Justice Concerning the North East Asia Area Including Japan. Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo: Japan Bahá'í Publishing Trust.
- R. Sims, Barbara (1998). Unfurling the Divine Flag in Tokyo: An Early Bahá'í History. Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo: Japan Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 4-938975-06-8.
- Agnes Alexander at Find-a-Grave.com
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