History of USFWI

Past & Present

Eliza Armstrong Cox

Eliza Armstrong Cox

Eliza armstrong Cox

Beginnings:  Formed in 1881 by Eliza Armstrong Cox and others responding to a concern among Friends Women for missionary work.

"My heart leaped for joy. Two of us were possessed at the same time with a like conviction for action on the part of Quaker women to move out on this highway of the King's business."                                                           Eliza A. Cox-March 1881

In the late 1800s while living in Western Yearly Meeting, Eliza (Clark) Armstrong Cox (1850-1935) caught a clear vision of the part Quaker women should contribute to the Master's great plan of world evangelization. Through her untiring efforts she initiated the movement which developed into the Woman's Missionary Union of Friends in America which is known today as the United Society of Friends Women International (USFWI).

The first Woman's Missionary Society formed in 1881.  In 1888 women from 10 yearly meetings attended the first assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana. This paved the way for the Glens Falls Conference of 1890, which officially inaugurated the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of Friends in America, with Phoebe S. Aydelott of New England Yearly Meeting as president.

Triennial Conferences have continued to be held at various locations to the present. Known in 1917 as the Woman's Missionary Union, the name and focus changed in 1948 to reflect the united witness of American Friends Women.

"International" was added in 1974 to recognize its global scope.

The Friends Missionary Advocate, the official periodical, began in 1885 and continues publication now as

The Advocate.

Blueprints, an annual publication of program outlines, has been produced since 1944. Ecumenical ties are maintained through Church Women United. Financial support is budgeted to projects of Friends United Meeting and other Quaker and Christian organizations. USFWI societies exist in most yearly meetings outside Europe and Asia.

The Eliza Armstrong Cox Fellowship Award was established many years ago as a way to recognize special women in each society or meeting.  Information from the Handbook United Society of Friends Women International, page 10 includes the following:

"Anyone may be made a member of the Eliza Armstrong Cox Fellowship of the United Society of Friends Women International by payment of $25.00 (For United Societies outside the United States the amount will be determined by the Executive Committee of the United Society of Friends Women International after consultation with the United Society of Friends Women Executive Committee of that Yearly Meeting.) The established amount shall be divided equally between the Yearly Meeting United Society of Friends Women and the General Fund of the United Society of Friends Women International. Members-at-Large shall pay the full $25.00 to the United Society of Friends Women International General Fund."

For several pages from Eliza Armstrong Cox's memoirs

 "Looking Back Over the Trail"  click here.......

Copies of the book are available from the Literature Secretary for $1.00 each.


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Phoebe S. AydelottNew England1890 – 1893

Lydia Taylor PainterWestern 1893 – 1896

Hannah Lewis SmithWilmington1896 – 1899

Eliza Armstrong CoxWestern1899 – 1908

Ethel Kirk CalvertIndiana1908 – 1911

Charlotte VickersWestern1911 – 1920

Mary Miars HaroldWestern1920 – 1925

Frances D. McDonaldWilmington1925 – 1927

Virginia PeelleWilmington1935 – 1938

Amy J. MarvelIndiana1938 – 1943

Helen E. WalkerCalifornia1943 – 1951

Ellen RobinsonWilmington1951 – 1954

Freda M. HadleyNew England1954 – 1956

Ruth StoffregenWilmington1956 – 1959

Ruth CastleWestern 1959 – 1962

Agnes LundWestern1962 – 1968

Maxine BeaneIowa1968 – 1974

Anne Shope North Carolina1974 – 1980

Edna SmithIowa1980 – 1986

Peggie M. BaxterNorth Carolina1986 – 1989

Leanna RobertsWestern1989 – 1995

Ann DavidsonNew York 1995 – 2004

Margaret StoltzfusIowa 2004 – 2007

Mary Glenn HadleyIndiana 2007 – 2010

Patricia Shrock Indiana 2010-


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