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Mabel Katharine Howell (1874-1957)

Mission Educator and Administrator

Howell was born in New Jersey in 1874 and earned her Ph.D. degree in sociology from Cornell in 1896. She completed her formal education with a seminary degree from University of Chicago. She taught in Richmond, Kentucky, for four years, coming under the influence of Belle Bennett.

In 1903, Bennett persuaded Howell to go to Scarritt College, then in Kansas City, as professor of sociology. At Scarritt, she was especially significant in raising consciousness about ‘home’ missions endeavors. The Board of Missions elected her to be the woman missionary secretary for Oriental Fields in 1918. In this role, she was embroiled in several major issues in the China mission and elsewhere. She was one of the authors of the controversial Hay-Pinson-Howell letter in 1923.

In 1926, she returned to Scarritt, then in Nashville, as professor of ‘foreign’ missions. Howell retired in 1942, dying in 1957 in Asheville, North Carolina. She was the author of Women and the Kingdom, honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, and other works.

Taken from Robert W. Sledge, “Five Dollars and Myself”: The History of Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1845-1939. (New York: General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 2005), p. 351.

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