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I was reading Catherine Brekus’ Strangers & Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America 1740-1845 as background for my thesis when I stumbled upon Jemima Wilkinson.  In October 1776, after a bout of typhus, Wilkinson believed she had died, gone to heaven, and returned “sinless spirit” neither female nor male.  Identifying herself as a Public Universal Friend, Wilkinson, often referred to herself in the third person and would only answer to Public Universal Friend not Jemima.  Following suit, several of her inner circle also stopped calling her Jemima which evidently led to convoluted references to her in the written record.

I have found two biographies of Jemima, Herbert Wisbey, Jr’s 2009, Pioneer Prophetess, Jemima Wilkinson the Public Universal Friend and Paul Moyer’s more recent (2015), The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America.  I find this interesting enough to follow up on after I finish my thesis.

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