Olive May Winchester United States

Biography of Olive May Winchester

Olive Winchester
Olive Winchester

Olive May Winchester (22 November 1879 - 15 February 1947) was the first woman to be admitted to study for and to graduate with a Bachelor of Divinity degree at the University of Glasgow.

An heiress of the inventor of the Winchester Rifle, Olive self-funded her education, and first matriculated at Glasgow in 1909, following her BA degree from Radcliffe College (a division of Harvard University) in 1902.

During her time as a student of the University of Glasgow, she was awarded several prizes, including the 'Jamieson Prize of £10 for examination in subjects BD' in the session 1911-12 and also the Cleland and Rae-Wilson gold medal for Church History in the same year.

While in Glasgow, Olive became a member of the Pentecostal Church of Scotland and taught in their Bible school, gaining the support of Scottish churches for Nazarene missions. When she graduated in 1912, the assembly of the Pentecostal Church of Scotland, united in 1915 with the Church of the Nazarene, voted to ordain her, making her the first woman to be ordained by any Christian denomination in Scotland. The ordination took place on 11th May 1912 in the modern-day Sharpe Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Parkhead, Glasgow.

A pioneering female minister, biblical scholar and theologian, Olive returned to the USA where, in 1925, she became the first woman to complete a Doctor of Theology (Th.D) from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. She served as professor of religion, vice-president, and academic dean at Northwest Nazarene College in Idaho, and as chair of the Department of Religion at Pasadena College in California, the institution to which she left her estate upon her death in 1947.


Other Online Resources

Archival Materials

  • R3/1/1 (vol 2) Register of dates of birth of graduates Vols.I-III 1881-1915
  • SEN10/54 University of Glasgow Calendar 1912-1913


Olive May Winchester
Nazarene Minister and Theologian

Born 22 November 1879, Monson, Maine, USA.
Died 15 February 1947.
GU Degree: BD, 1912; Divinity,
University Link: Alumnus, Graduate
Occupation categories: academic dean; chair of the Department of Religion; Nazarene Minister; professor of religions; theologian
View Major Archive Collection Record
Additional Information: R3/1/1 (vol 2) SEN10/54 Stan Ingersol, archives@nazarene.org
Record last updated: 16th Oct 2014

Country Associations

United States United States, Maine, Monson
Place of Birth

University Connections

University Roles