Girl  Evangelists
 
Uldine Utley
(1912-1995)

Uldine was a superstar — the poster child of girl evangelists. She was converted at age nine under the leading woman evangelist of the day, Aimee Semple McPherson, a Pentecostal and fundamentalist. At age eleven, Uldine started to preach, and became an overnight success story. Newspaper wire services followed her crusades and promoted her nationally. After a couple of years preaching on the west coast, she moved eastward, finally making New York City her headquarters and the eastern seaboard her primary mission, where she was frequently referred to as “The Joan of Arc of the Modern Religious World.”

Her workload was heavy (as was often the case of itinerant revivalist preachers). She preached nightly (and sometimes twice a day) for months on end, with rarely a break. At one time, she had an entourage of twelve people, from managers, song leaders, pianists, secretaries, staff trainers, a tutor, and family members. Her work load was increased by writing for and editing a monthly magazine she started at age twelve.

With a career as a girl evangelist of over a dozen years, she spend the latter half in Chicago and area. Chicago was America’s “second city” in terms of size and the first city in terms of sin. Studies at a seminary, multi-month crusades during Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair and heavy schedules elsewhere, and the financial difficulties of the Great Depression took their toll, and she collapsed at the end of of 1936, disappearing from the public stage that had long been her home.

Chapter 8, “The Poster Child of Girl Evangelists” (pp.67-77) of our book Out of the Mouths of Babes: Girl Evangelists in the Flapper Era, offers a brief biographical sketch, and numerous comments about Uldine appear throughout the book. A full-length biography of Uldine is currently a project engaging Professor Robinson.

For further reading:

Uldine Utley, Why I Am a Preacher (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1931). The subtitle of Uldine’s book is “A Plain Answer to an Oft-repeated Question.”

Uldine Utley
Age 17 (1929)
By this time, Uldine had been preaching on a near-nightly basis for six years.
[Photo: Ron Long Collection]

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A New Biography of Uldine
Professor Robinson is currently working on the final draft of his biography of Uldine Utley.