Missionary Generation

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The Missionary Generation is the name given by sociologists to describe the generation of people born from 1860 to 1882. It is an identified cohort within the Strauss–Howe generational theory.

Suffragists marching in New York, 1915. Social Crusades were a defining feature.


They have been described as the "home-and-hearth children of the post-Civil War era". They were an idealist generation and as young adults, their leaders were the first graduates of newly formed black and women's colleges.

They rejected the strict Victorian values, questioned gender roles and feared society would become soulless, inhumane, and money-driven.[1]

Their defining characteristics were missionary and social crusades, "muckrake" journalism, prohibitionism, workers' rights, trade unionism and women's suffrage.[2] In midlife, they developed Prohibition in the United States, immigration control, and organized vice squads.

Because the Lost Generation were so decimated by World War I, the leadership of the Missionary Generation lasted longer than previous generations and in the 1930s and 1940s, their elite became the “Wise Old Men” who enacted a “New Deal”, Social Security, led the global war against fascism, and reaffirmed America's highest ideals during a transformative era in world history.

This generation is fully ancestral, with the last member of the Missionary Generation, the American Sarah Knauss, having died on December 30, 1999 at an astonishing 119 years of age.

Sociologist Naomi Riley believes that a new “Missionary Generation” is forming in the children of the 2010s.[3]

Notable persons[edit]

The following list includes some of the notable persons who influenced this generation:


Winston Churchill, Lenin, Franklin Roosevelt, Gandhi, Douglas MacArthur, Stalin, Anton Chekhov, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, William Jennings Bryan, Konrad Adenauer


Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, Guglielmo Marconi, Albert Schweitzer, Carl Jung, Ernest Rutherford, Roald Amundsen, W.E.B. DuBois


William Butler Yeats, Rudyard Kipling, Beatrix Potter, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A.A. Milne, James Joyce, Upton Sinclair, Thomas Mann


Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Enrico Caruso, Arturo Toscanini


Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse


Jane Addams, Mata Hari


  1. ^ Generational Cycles at so-called Millennials.com.
  2. ^ Generational Cycles.
  3. ^ Douglas Jacobsen, Rhonda Jacobsen, The American University in a Postsecular Age (Oxford University Press, 2008).