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College of Christian Ministries and Religion


This paper sets the oft-told narrative of McPherson’s disappearance and alleged sexual misconduct into important aspects of the historical context of her era. Although the accusations against the evangelist were widely embraced by the Pentecostal community—and although they continue to exhibit a shaping effect upon her legacy and legend—this paper uses primary historical research to reexamine these events through the lens of emerging, powerful cultural forces, including entrenched female biases common in the post-Victorian era, the ascendance of the American mob, the public’s rejection of prohibition and revulsion against the Women’s Temperance Union and recent Suffragist gains, and the desire of the religious establishment to censure McPherson for casting off role assignment proclivities. This paper will revisit the story and provide a theory that offers compelling, unexplored evidence that connects these events in McPherson’s life with the rowdy and colorfully distinctive characteristics of her time.