Girl  Evangelists

Thomas A. Robinson and Lanette D. Ruff (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)

The 1920s saw one of the most striking revolutions in manners and morals to have marked North American society, affecting almost every aspect of life, from dress and drink to sex and salvation. Protestant Christianity was being torn apart by a heated controversy between traditionalists and the modernists, as they sought to determine how much their beliefs and practices should be altered by scientific study and more secular attitudes. Out of the controversy arose the Fundamentalist movement, which has become a powerful force in twentieth-century America. During this decade, hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of young girl preachers, some not even school age, joined the conservative Christian cause, proclaiming traditional values and condemning modern experiments with the new morality. Some of the girls drew crowds into the thousands. But the stage these girls gained went far beyond the revivalist platform. The girl evangelist phenomenon was recognized in the wider society as well, and the contrast to the flapper worked well for the press and the public. Girl evangelists stood out as the counter-type of the flapper, who had come to define the modern girl. The striking contrast these girls offered to the racy flapper and to modern culture generally made girl evangelists a convenient and effective tool for conservative and revivalist Christianity, a tool which was used by their adherents in the clash of cultures that marked the 1920s.

Thomas A. Robinson holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and has taught at the University of Lethbridge for the past twenty-six years. His fields of research include the rise of Pentecostalism in North America and Jewish-Christian relations in the Roman Empire.
Lanette D. Ruff holds a Ph.D. in sociology and has studied various components of the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence. She teaches courses in Sociology, Family Violence Issues, and Women's Studies.


“Out of the Mouth of Babes skillfully traces the fascinating phenomenon of girl evangelists who drew incredible crowds during in the 1920s and then vanished from popular memory as well as the history books. Robinson and Ruff resurrect their stories to carefully analyze the ways in which these flapper fundamentalists illuminate the era's popular culture, religious currents, and obsession with youth.”
— Matthew Avery Sutton, author of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America

“A sprawling, sometimes irreverent, look at a fascinating chapter in the histories of U.S. Pentecostalism, popular gender ideology, and interpretations of childhood.”
— Betty DeBerg, Professor of Religion,
University of Northern Iowa

Out of the Mouths of Babes:
Girl Evangelists 
in the Flapper Era


1. The Golden Age of Girl Evangelists

2. Cures for the Body and Soul

3. The Changing Face of American Religion

4. Women Preachers

5. A Revolution in Manners and Morals

6. Girl Evangelists Versus the Flappers

7. The Sexual Side of Selling Salvation

8. The Poster Child of Girl Evangelists

9. The Girls as Children

10. The Girls as Adults

11. The Girls as Evangelists

12. Preaching as Performance

13. The Girls and the Media

14. Criticism and Decline

15. Exiting the Stage

16. Explaining the Phenomenon

Appendix A: The Importance of the
Newspaper Record

Appendix B: Brief Biographies

Appendix C: List of Girl Evangelists
(1920s and 1930s)

Bibliography: Newspaper and
Magazine Accounts of Girl Evangelists

General Bibliography

252 pages; 24 b&w halftones;
6-1/8 x 9-1/4;

ISBN13: 978-0-19-979087-6

ISBN10: 0-19-979087-6

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