While women were often denied ordination in Protestant denomination, they were essential to nearly every missionary effort. And unlike many ministers, women evangelists like those in the Chicago Bible Society evangelized the unchurched directly.
Like many nuns and other women religious orders in the Catholic Church, the Sisters of Mercy oversaw a number of benevolent institutions such as schools and hospitals.
Russell Alexander Webb was not only the Parliament's Muslim representative, he was also the only Westerner to have converted to an Eastern tradition. Through Islam, Webb engaged in the Parliament's interfaith dialogue while also critiquing its limits.
The founder of almost every Polish church before his death, Fr. Vincent Barzynski was Polonia's unofficial priest during the era of the World's Columbian Exposition. His ministry navigated a number of ethnic and religious tensions.
More than just an early technical college, the Armour Institute was also an outgrowth of the Social Gospel theology espoused by many liberal Protestants of the time.
Churches have long been houses of worship. But in the 1890s, Reverdy C. Ransom attempted to reenvision congregational life to account for the traumas of urban, industrial life.
A Chicago resident dismayed at the sin of the city, T. W. Harvey attempted to recreate a religious community outside of Chicago in a town that bore his name.
Unitarian minister Jenkin Lloyd Jones did not only participate in the World's Parliament of Religions, he attempted to extend its mission of interfaith dialogue to his own congregation.
The Parliament and World's Fair brought visitors to Chicago from across the globe. But none became more famous than W. T. Stead, whose investigations of the city after the Fair shocked many residents.
According to the press and the Parliament itself, the World's Parliament of Religions featured the first public address by a Hindu in American history. Yet in many ways, Vivekananda was speaking to India as much as he was speaking for Hinduism.
One of the first African American priests ordained by the Catholic Church, Augustus Tolton ministered to Chicago's then growing African American community.
Cities like Chicago have long been considered secular spaces. But for evangelicals like Moody, they became important spaces for religious innovation and engagement as they tried to save the city.
As the founding president of the University of Chicago, Harper saw the university's mission to be a distinctly religious one.
Based just outside the city in Evanston, Frances Elizabeth Willard advocated not only to restrict the sale of alcohol, but also enlarge the rights of women. These two causes would make Willard one of the nation's most recognized religious activists.
By the time of the World’s Fair Chicago claimed one of the fastest growing Jewish populations in the world. Nearly all of this growth came from the arrival of immigrants from Eastern Europe, many of whom settled along Maxwell St. on the city’s West Side.
For all of their diversity, Chicago's religious communities were often similarly comprised by working people. As pastor of a Methodist church in the industrial neighborhood of Pullman, the Rev. William H. Carwardine discovered this reality first hand.
The history of religion in Chicago often transcends the city’s borders. John Alexander Dowie’s utopian community up at Zion began as a protest against the World’s Fair and its belief in the power of science and medicine.
By 1890 nearly eighty percent of Chicago's population were either immigrants or the children of immigrants. The majority of these newcomers were Catholic, rapidly expanding the Church's presence. Overseeing this growth was Archbishop Patrick Feehan.
Chicago’s Jewish population has influenced not only the city, but Judaism in America as well. The home of one of the oldest and most radical Reformed congregations, Chicago’s Jews proposed their own way of encountering religious diversity.
A Dutch Reformed minister, Social Gospel advocate, and founder of one of the city's most successful settlement houses, Graham Taylor became what many called "the conscience of Chicago."
As president of the Parliament and a minister of some renown, John Henry Barrows embodies the mainstream religious sentiments in America that believed in the importance of religious diversity, as well as the superiority of Christianity.