'Colporteurs' and 'biblewomen': models of male and female action in the establishment of the Bible Society in Portugal (1804-1930)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Throughout the 19th century, the almost absolute dominance of the male gender among the workers of the Bible Society in Portugal was punctuated by the collaboration of women who, episodically and with varying degrees of formality, performed functions in the field of biblical circulation, also mirroring what was the practice of the parent institution - the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS).Not absolutely uncontroversial, the integration of the of the feminine contribution in the activity of the Bible Society was promoted and consolidated throughout the 19th century, both domestically, where the most evident expression of this participation was the multiplication of the Ladies’ Bible Societies, and internationally, where numerous contributions from women were gathered in the context of the work of biblical dissemination. In Portugal, where «colporteurs» were the driving force behind the system of street sales of Bibles set up in the 1860s, there were also women, the so-called «Biblewomen», taking part in the work of bible circulation. That designation was absolutely revealing, since it explicitly emphasized from the outset that there was a fundamental difference between those two groups: it was not the book trading that defined the function of those women, but rather the fact that they were "women of the Bible". The Christian engagement, which was slowly integrated into the functions of the colporteurs, was a basic prerequisite in the case of «Biblewomen».
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligião e masculinidades
Subtitle of host publicationmodelos, práticas e transgressões
Publication statusSubmitted - 2021


  • Bible
  • Gender
  • Colporteur
  • Biblewoman
  • Bible society


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