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Joanna P. Moore, 1832-1916
"In Christ's Stead": Autobiographical Sketches
Chicago: Women's Baptist Home Mission Society, c1902.


"In Christ's Stead": Autobiographical Sketches is the memoir of Joanna P. Moore, a white missionary who dedicated her life to improving the condition of African Americans in the South. Moore describes her religious life from her early childhood in Pennsylvania, describing how she learned various catechisms and read from several hymn and prayer books, and how she became inspired to do missionary work. Her first missionary assignment was in Ohio; she next moved to Helena, Arkansas. The bulk of the book then tells of her various experiences while a missionary based in New Orleans. At this point, Moore's writing becomes heavily episodic and thematic, focusing mainly on her various educational efforts among the newly freed slaves. She provides accounts of religion and song among freed slaves, credits her helpers in the work in New Orleans, and describes various weaknesses of character she tried to combat. She pays particular attention to her efforts with temperance societies.

The second half of the book focuses more narrowly on "new plans," as she puts it. She creates a series of schools aimed at educating mothers and their children, working in several places to encourage home education. Her Baton Rouge school is shut down due to opposition from whites in the area, and this leads to another shift in focus to "Bible Bands." She institutes these groups as a different kind of school supplementary to Sabbath schools, and as fundamental to the concept of home education. She takes her work to Arkansas, where she works to encourage neighborhood ministry from women to children. Her final thoughts touch on Christian service, her publishing work, her favorite poems and extracts, the need for education for former slaves, and the importance of social purity for both men and women. Taken together, the events Moore relates in this memoir give not a chronological picture of her life, but a conceptual picture of the themes and moments that have been important to her.

Christopher Hill

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