Power, Passion, and Faith: Emmy Carlsson Evald, Suffragist and Social Activist

Sharon M. Wyman

It is the morning of July 1, 1938, and New York City is just beginning to stir. For Emmy Evald, it is a day of reckoning.

Born the daughter of a pioneer preacher in 1857 in Geneva, Illinois, Emmy Evald grew up in the poor section of Chicago known as “Swede Town.” Despite her humble beginnings, she became one of the most influential and remarkable Swedish American women of her day.

Emmy began challenging the male-dominated church and social mores early on. Clear in her vision, she established the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary Society in 1892, raising more than $3 million, which provided health care and education to women worldwide.

A distinguished orator, Emmy led the charge on behalf of women’s suffrage and marched with Susan B. Anthony to the US Congress in 1902.

Her actions met with both victory and defeat. Some women felt a woman’s place was in the home and resented her. Men tried to silence her spirit. But she was a “force to be reckoned with,” one who never gave up on the fight for women’s rights and social justice.

About the Author


Since childhood, Sharon Wyman has heard family stories about Emmy Evald. They were grand tales indeed of Emmy’s trip to China, where she thwarted a robbery attempt, and of her travels to India, where she spent the day with a viper in her cot. But it was not until Wyman relocated to Chicago, where Evald grew up, that her interest in family history blossomed.

As Evald’s great-granddaughter, Wyman has access to her personal papers, scrapbooks, and photographs. Plus, she has the inside scoop from family members who knew Evald best, adding to an intimate portrait of Evald’s life.

Wyman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent twenty years in corporate communications. She currently lives on Cape Cod with her husband, Bob, their beagle Annie, and a cat named Calvin.