House Namesakes’ Contributions to Society
Based on a recommendation from the Namesake Review Committee (NRC), published on April 27, 2020, the NRC submitted statements (based on their research), for each namesake that highlights notable contributions to society, worthy character qualities, etc. House executive teams and alumni will have the opportunity to speak into these statements.
Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906)
Susan B. Anthony was a social reformer, abolitionist, and leading spokesperson for the women’s suffrage movement of the 19th century. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her lifelong partner in political organizing, Anthony played a pivotal role in American women gaining the right to vote (the 19th Amendment is also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment). Anthony was also an ardent abolitionist, driven by a conviction that all men and women, slave and free, are made in God’s image and should be treated equally under the law. In her fight for women’s rights, Anthony also opposed abortion, which she saw as dangerous to women and the result of rights being denied to women so that they had no other option.
Clara Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912)
Clara Barton was an American teacher, patent clerk, and Civil War nurse most known for founding the American Red Cross. Barton demonstrated adaptability and a desire to serve people’s real needs. She began as an educator (even founding her own school) but then saw a need to serve soldiers on the battlefield. Barton lobbied Congress to establish the American Red Cross and finally gained approval when she was 59. She went on to lead the organization for 23 years.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian during World War II who opposed the Nazi regime and actively worked on a plot to assassinate Hitler, using his role as pastor to act as a liaison with those in other countries. Bonhoeffer was confined to prison and eventually killed as a result of these efforts. He authored such books as The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, and Ethics. In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer calls Christians to live a faith of action, not mere lip-service. In his book Life Together, Bonhoeffer provides a potent paradigm for Christian community.
Winston Churchill (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965)
Sir Winston Churchill is most known for his ardent leadership of Great Britain as Prime Minister during the Second World War, though he is also well known for his commitment to free trade and stewardship of public resources. Churchill steadfastly opposed the Nazi regime and its ideals, including its anti-semitism. Even when many of his peers favored appeasement, Churchill possessed the foresight to refuse negotiations. He believed that freedom and democracy would and must prevail. After WWII, he was the first to publicly warn of the Soviet threat. He was known as the “Savior of his country” and was posthumously voted the Greatest Briton.
Queen Elizabeth I (September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603)
Elizabeth I was Queen of England from 1558 until her death in 1603 and was known as the Virgin Queen. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and became queen upon the death of her half-sister, Mary. Elizabeth demonstrated grit and determination throughout her life, especially through childhood when her mother was executed by her father and she had to spend many years in obscurity, fearing for her life. Elizabeth was a well-educated, intellectually formidable woman. There is evidence of genuine Christian piety in her life, including accounts of her turning to prayer in times of need. She actively worked to strengthen Protestantism in England. Elizabeth was a competent and gracious ruler, maintaining relative peace and security in England during a time of upheaval across Europe. She accomplished this while navigating the difficulties of being a female monarch in the 1500s.
Clive Staples Lewis (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963)
C.S. Lewis was a British atheist turned Christian apologist, known best for his Christian theological and fiction writings. He also delivered radio broadcasts during World War II to comfort the British people in the face of Nazi assault. Lewis’s most popular works include Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Because of these works and others, Lewis is highly regarded among evangelical Christians. Lewis also taught and held leadership positions at both Oxford and Cambridge. Lewis faced personal tragedy when his wife died of cancer, yet remained steadfast in his faith, writing about the experience in A Grief Observed.
Ronald Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004)
Ronald Reagan was the 40th U.S. President, widely acclaimed for his role in bringing an end to communism in Eastern Europe. Reagan and Bush developed an effective working relationship with Soviet leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Edvard Shevardnadze, a relationship that gave rise to possibilities unimaginable in the 1970s and early 1980s. Seen in retrospect, the demise of communism in Eastern Europe looks even more impressive if one recalls how peacefully it took place. Communism’s collapse also meant the end of decades of religious persecution in lands that were historically Christian. With respect to domestic matters, some of Reagan’s popularity can be attributed to a prolonged economic expansion from 1982 to 1988. Reagan also publicly supported the pro-life movement when he was president.
Corrie ten Boom (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983)
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Holocaust survivor who was arrested, along with her family, by the Gestapo for hiding Jews in her family’s watch shop and home. Corrie’s father died ten days after being arrested. Her sister Betsie later died from disease and malnourishment. In Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, amidst tortuous conditions, dying inmates, and the uncertainty of survival, Corrie, along with her sister Betsie until her death, remained steadfast in their Christian faith and commitment to serving the Jewish people. Together, they led Scripture reading with a Bible they smuggled in and continued ministering to inmates throughout their incarceration. After being released from Ravensbruck, she became a renowned Christian leader, starting a rehabilitation center for Holocaust survivors and preaching on the power of forgiveness in over 64 countries and authoring more than 20 books.
Margaret Thatcher (October 13, 1925 – April 8, 2013)
Margaret Thatcher was the first ever female Prime Minister of Great Britain. She is lauded for her firmness in her policies. Thatcher was a practicing Christian from a young age and kept her faith throughout her career. Thatcher was known as an “iron woman,” willing to fight and sacrifice for what she believed was right. She didn’t cave in the face of opposition and sought to improve her country, even orchestrating peace with Ireland. Alongside President Reagan, Thatcher stood against communism and its spread in the world.
Sojourner Truth (c. 1797 – November 26, 1883)
Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree) is a well-known abolitionist and women’s rights activist in the 19th Century who spoke in 22 states and interacted with three US Presidents. She was regarded as hardworking, resilient, and a woman of character. She was also the first black woman to win a lawsuit against a white man in the United States. In addition to her work with abolition, she was a champion of prison reform in the United States. Because of her efforts, she became the first black woman to be honored with a statue in the National Capitol. A devoted Christian, her last known words were, “Be a follower of Jesus.”