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.

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  • ISBN: 978-1-941799-95-6
  • e-book ISBN: 978-0-9779530-5-9
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2022
  • 212 pages – 5.5 in. x 8.5 in. matte paperback
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Power, Passion, and Faith tells the story of a remarkable woman, Emmy Carlsson Evald, whose varied interests intersected in fascinating ways. Raised by Swedish immigrant parents, Evald used her traditional role as a pastor’s wife and mother to push beyond the gender-based boundaries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She became a church leader, a successful fundraiser, a nonprofit executive, and a suffrage activist. She crossed paths with Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt. Written by Evald’s great-granddaughter, Sharon M. Wyman, this book presents a personal perspective on this important Swedish American female activist. I highly recommend it.

Anita Olson Gustafson, PhD, author, Swedish Chicago,
and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia

“Suffragist, social equity advocate, church leader, friend of feminist luminaries Susan B. Anthony and Jane Addams, Emmy Carlsson Evald tore through her four decades of life like a whirlwind—and changed the world. In this brisk new biography, Evald’s great-granddaughter Sharon M. Wyman draws on unpublished family papers as well as historical documents to present Emmy as both private and public person. Wyman’s approach and style—clear, energetic, richly detailed—aptly reflects her great-grandmother. Her story of triumph and sorrow will engage readers new to Emmy and long-time fans alike. It’s a valuable contribution not only to Swedish American scholarship and the history of the Augustana Lutheran Synod, but to feminist studies as well.

Ann Boaden, professor emerita, Augustana College,
author, Light and Leaven: Woman Who Shaped Augustana’s First Century,
lyricist and librettist, An Evening with Emmy Evald

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.

Watch Sharon M. Wyman's presentation to the Women of the ELCA meeting for Women's History Month.