Ann Hasseltine (1789-1826) was a schoolteacher in Bradford, Massachusetts, when she first met Adoniram Judson at her father’s home during the organizational meeting of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, a society associated with the American Congregationalist denomination. They soon fell in love and were married, making her the wife of one of the first foreign missionaries to emerge from the United States upon their appointment in 1812. On their way to India, however, where they would be residing for a time with William Carey and the mission at Serampore and Calcutte under the British Baptist Missionary Society, both Ann and Adoniram, along with their missionary companion Luther Rice, became convinced of believer’s baptism by immersion, not sprinkling. Their change in sentiments forced their departure from the ABCFM, and left them missionary orphans, for a time, in Calcutta, working with the BMS missionaries there and, in Ann’s case, observing closely the educational establishments operated by Hannah Marshman. Immediately plans were made among the American Baptists to form their own mission board, which came to fruition in 1814. Rice returned to America to serve as the leader and fundraiser of the new mission board, and the Judsons left Calcutta for Burma (Myanmar). Ann worked with her husband in evangelistic work primarily among the Burmese women, and established schools and an orphanage. Her health required her to leave Burma in 1822, arriving first in England and then, after her stay there, on to America, returning to Burma in early 1824. Around that time war broke out between England and Burma, and Adoniram Judson was arrested as a spy. Ann effectively lobbied the officials and was able to secure her husband’s release, but the nearly two-year long effort greatly damaged her health. She died on. And within a few months her only child died as well. Her translation of the book of Matthew into Siamese (Thai) in 1819 was the first to appear in that language. She later added the books of Daniel and Jonah and a history of the mission, A Particular Relation of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire (1823). She joins another Baptist, Lottie Moon, as one of the most influential missionary women in American history.

For a selection of letters by Ann Judson, composed between 1812 and 1823, including an account of her dress scandal in 1823, click here. For more on the life of Ann Judson, see James D. Knowles, Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, late Missionary to Burmah: including a History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire (Boston: Lincoln & Edmands, 1829); idem, Memoir of Ann H. Judson, Missionary to Burmah (Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, 1846); Arabella M. Stuart, The Lives of Mrs. Ann H. Judson and Mrs. Sarah B. Judson, with a Biographical Sketch of Mrs. Emily C. Judson, Missionaries to Burmah (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855); Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Mission for Life: Thee Judson Family and American Evangelical Culture (New York: NYU Press, 1984); Sharon James, My Heart In His Hands—Ann Judson of Burma: A Life, with Selections from Her Memoir and Letters (Durham: Evangelical Press, 1998).