Ella E. Gibson

On this date in 1821, Ella E. Gibson was born in Massachusetts. A schoolteacher, Gibson was elected chaplain of the First Wisconsin Regiment, Heavy Artillery. The Secretary of War refused to muster her because she was a woman. By an act of Congress in 1869, pay for her services was belatedly approved. She did not receive her pension until 1876, and distributed most of that to freethought causes, which she had embraced soon after the war. During her line of duty, Gibson contracted malaria, which severely disabled her. Even when confined to bed, she wrote for nearly every Liberal (freethought) newspaper in the United States, and edited "The Moralist" during the early 1890s. Her book, The Godly Women of the Bible by an Ungodly Woman of the Nineteenth Century, the first such treatment of the bible, was published by The Truth Seeker Co. in the 1870s, and was continuously in print for the next three decades. D. 1901.

“The abominable laws respecting [women in the Bible] . . . are a disgrace to civilization and English literature; and any family which permits such a volume to lie on their parlor-table ought to be ostracized from all respectable society. . .”

—Ella E. Gibson, The Godly Women of the Bible by an Ungodly Woman of the Nineteenth Century, 1870s.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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