Celia Parker Woolley

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Celia Parker Woolley
Celia Parker Woolley
Woolley, circa 1897.
Born Celia Parker
(1848-06-14)June 14, 1848
Toledo, Ohio
Died March 9, 1918(1918-03-09) (aged 69)
Chicago, Illinois

Celia Parker Woolley (June 14, 1848 – March 9, 1918) was an American novelist, Unitarian minister and social reformer. She also served as a president of the Chicago Woman's Club and the founder of the Frederick Douglass Woman's Club.[1][2]


She was born Celia Parker on June 14, 1848, in Toledo, Ohio. She moved to Coldwater, Michigan when she was young.[3] She later graduated from Coldwater Female Seminary and, in 1868, she was married to dentist J. H. Woolley, and in 1876 moved to Chicago. The couple had one child who died in adolescence.[4]

Woolley began studies for the ministry, and became pastor of the Unitarian Church of Geneva, Illinois, 1893–1896, being ordained in 1894. She was then pastor of the Independent Liberal Church, Chicago, 1896–98.

In 1904 she moved with her husband to Chicago's South Side to do social work, because she was concerned with issues of racism and human rights.[5] In 1904 she established the Frederick Douglass Center in order to promote opportunities for blacks as well as work on promoting better interracial relationships and cooperation.[5] In 1906, she founded the Frederick Douglass Woman's Club, one of the few interracial women's clubs in Chicago.[2]

She was active as a lecturer and in the work of women's clubs. Some of this work emphasized literature and related biography.[4] George Eliot and Robert Browning were two interests.[4]

She died in Chicago's South Side on March 9, 1918.[5]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Love and Theology, novel (1887; republished as Rachel Armstrong, or, Love and Theology)
  • A Girl Graduate, novel (1889)
  • Roger Hunt, novel (1893)
  • The Western Slope, autobiographical and historical (1903)


  1. ^ "An Able Woman Preacher". Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News. 17 August 1894. Retrieved 11 January 2017 – via Newspapers.com. 
  2. ^ a b Crocco, Margaret; Hendry, Petra Munro (1999). Pedagogies of Resistance: Women Educator Activists, 1880-1960. Teachers College Press. p. 32. ISBN 0807762970. 
  3. ^ "Mrs. Celia Parker Woolley". Los Angeles Herald. 11 September 1894. Retrieved 10 January 2017 – via Newspapers.com. 
  4. ^ a b c Lee Schweninger (1999). "Woolley, Celia Parker". American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  5. ^ a b c "Woolley, Celia Parker (1848-1918)". Harvard Square Library. 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2018-02-20.