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Proceedings and minutes from the state convention, the Southern Baptist Convention, and Woman's Missionary Union (both state and national) were important sources, although coverage of their meetings in the Baptist Standard often included informal comments and additional information.

Books written during the period by Texas Baptist women were scarce, restricted to a few reminiscences by missionaries, collections of speeches, and local women's organizational histories. Books written by men about women were not enlightening; rather, they were predictable and didactic. Baylor University archives contain women missionaries' papers that were delightful resources, as were the interviews I conducted with several evangelical women who grew up in Texas between 1890 and 1920.

Three Baptist histories could be considered primary resources: Z. N. Morrell's Fruits and Flowers in the Wilderness , printed in 1882, J. B. Link's two-volume Texas Historical and Biographical Magazine , published in 1891-92, and J. M. Carroll's massive A History of Texas Baptists , copyrighted in 1923. Two additional volumes, Centennial Story of Texas Baptists Elliott, op. cit. and The Blossoming Desert Robert A. Baker, The Blossoming Desert: A Concise History of Texas Baptists (Waco: Word Books, 1970). brought the state denominational story up to date in a more concise format. Histories of the Texas Baptist women's organization were published in the form of mission study books in 1933, Mrs. W. J. J. Smith, A Centennial History of the Baptist Women of Texas: 1830-1930 (Dallas: Woman's Missionary Union of Texas, 1933). and in 1979. Inez B. Hunt, Century One: A Pilgrimage of Faith (Dallas: Woman's Missionary Union, 1979).

The best studies of Baptist social thought concur with my evaluation of state denominational newspapers as the most valuable primary resource for this kind of research. John Lee Eighmy, Churches in Cultural Captivity: A History of the Social Attitudes of Southern Baptists (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1972), p. 211; George D. Kelsey, Social Ethics Among Southern Baptists, 1917-1969 (Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press/American Theological Library Association, 1973), p. vi; Rufus B. Spain, At Ease in Zion: Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865-1900 (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1961), p. 215. While these social histories assisted with bibliographical data and were generally informative, they dealt with the issue of women's rights briefly (Spain), not at all (Eighmy), or with women only in a marriage and family context (Kelsey). Paul M. Harrison's still excellent Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition Paul M. Harrison, Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition : A Social Case Study of the American Baptist Convention (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959). was helpful in understanding the ambiguity present in a system in which discrepancies between doctrine and polity confuse the real locus of power, as they have come to (perhaps, always have) in Baptist circles. Numerous works on American church history amplified my understanding of evangelical Protestant Christianity in its prolific, New World flowering.

As mentioned previously, many studies of feminism and feminist ideology provided background information and acknowledged the importance of Christian dogma in shaping and maintaining women's role in our culture. One of these, The Bonds of Womanhood by Nancy F. Cott, was particularly important in the sense of confirming my choice of subject matter and shaping my conclusions. It is the rare example of a critical study of ordinary women, the author of which demands no more enlightenment and foresight of her subjects than their own culture provided and judges their achievements by the light of their own possibilities rather than those of another time and place.

Without elevating my subjects to sainthood (which they do not deserve) or denigrating their movement toward liberation as insignificant (which it was not), I would like to tell their story with the same sense of fairness and thoroughness. They, too, were ordinary women, attempting to accommodate deeply engrained beliefs with conflicting cultural forces. Biblical wisdom had made it seem simple: "Train up a child in the way [she] should go: and when [she]is old, [she] will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 (King James Version). Or would she?

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin's phd thesis. OpenStax CNX. Dec 12, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11462/1.1
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