From 1912 until today, one of the most famous and beloved women among millions of Southern Baptists has been Kathleen Mallory of Alabama. She assumed leadership of 200,000 women and children, mobilized them and their resources, propelled Southern Baptist missions programs from debt to success, and boosted the Woman's Missionary Union to a position of quiet power.
In 1908, Miss Mallory became superintendent of the Woman's Missionary Union work of the Selma Baptist Association. She was elected Corresponding Secretary of the Alabama Baptist Woman's Missionary Union in 1909. In 1912, she became Corresponding Secretary of the Woman's Missionary Union, Auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. The national WMU offices at that time were in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1921, the national offices were moved to Birmingham, Alabama, with Miss Mallory leading the way. Her title was changed to Executive Secretary in 1937. She retired in 1948.
Miss Mallory has the longest tenure of any employee of the Woman's Missionary Union. Under her leadership, the organization grew to 806,000. She raised millions of dollars for missions, and wrote and edited countless inspiring publications. She instituted pervasive and progressive social services programs that reshaped the Baptist position in many Southern communities, and aided women in their struggles in many foreign countries. She helped retool the Southern Baptist system of finance. She was known as "the sweetheart of Southern Baptists."
During her years as National Executive Secretary of the Woman's Missionary Union, Miss Mallory assumed the position of editor for the monthly magazine, Royal Service, a missions magazine for Baptist women. This magazine is now one of the largest circulated publications for women in the United States.
In perpetual honor of Kathleen Mallory, a hospital in Laichow-fu China, erected by Alabama Baptists' donations, was named Kathleen Mallory Hospital. The large conference room in the WMU national office is named for Miss Mallory. The annual special missions offering for the Alabama Baptist State Convention is named in her honor.
Allen, Catherine B. Laborers in God: 22 Great Woman in Baptist Life. Birmingham: Woman’s Missionary Union, 1987.
Barwick, Dee Danner, ed. Great Words of Our Time. Kansas City: Hallmark Editions, 1970.
Garrison, Greg. “Book Shows WMU Racial Concerns, Women’s Rights Role.” Birmingham News, 23 January 1987, 1B.
Ussery, Annie Wright. The Story of Kathleen Mallory. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1956.
Alabama Women's Hall of Fame