Anna Howard Shaw (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: The first American woman to hold divinity and medical degrees simultaneously, the Reverend Shaw was a central figure in the crusades for political equality and women’s rights.
Anna Howard Shaw was born on Valentine’s Day, 1847, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. As the sixth child of a fragile and despondent mother and a restless and irresponsible father, Anna was not a likely prospect for fame or fortune. At age four, Anna moved with her family to the United States, settling in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Shortly before the Civil War, the Shaw family moved to the Michigan frontier. Anna spent her early teens cutting firewood, digging wells, caring for her sickly mother, and generally overseeing the Shaw household while her father and older brothers were away at war.
Anna pitied her mother, viewing her as a weak, lonely woman, overburdened with meaningless household chores, embittered by her plight yet unwilling or unable to escape her oppression. As a youth, Anna dreamed that she would be different. After years of indecision, Anna marshaled the courage to defy family tradition and pursue a formal education. At the age of twenty-four, despite the protests of her father, she left home to attend a high school in Big Rapids.
While in Big Rapids, Shaw met the Reverend Marianna Thompson. Inspired by this new and unusual role model, Shaw decided that she also would...
(The entire section is 2134 words.)
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