Mary A. Safford

Lived:December 23, 1851—October 25, 1927 (aged 75)

Mary Augusta Safford, a Unitarian minister and suffragist, was the leader of a group of female Unitarian ministers known as the “Iowa Sisterhood” that founded Unitarian congregations across the Midwest.

Safford was born on December 23, 1851, near Quincy, Illinois. She studied for a year at the University of Iowa before leaving due to illness. She returned to Illinois and worked as a teacher while studying on her own.

After speaking at the annual meeting of the Iowa Unitarian Association in Humboldt, Iowa, in 1880, Safford was ordained by the ministers there. Safford served Humboldt's Unitarian church from 1880 to 1885, and churches in Sioux City, Iowa, from 1885 to 1899, and Des Moines, Iowa, from 1899 to 1910. She served as president of the Iowa Unitarian Association for seven years and as its field secretary for six years, assisting in the foundation of new congregations in Iowa and Nebraska. She also directed the American Unitarian Association and the Western Unitarian Conference. Safford retired to Florida in 1910, helping to found the Unitarian Church in Orlando.

Safford supported the women's suffrage movement, serving as president of both the Iowa and Florida woman suffrage associations and on the board of directors of the National Woman Suffrage Association.