Clara Cook Helvie was born Jan. 24, 1876, in Chaumont, Jefferson County, N.Y. Because of her mother's early death, she was raised by her relatives, Mr. and Mrs. John Bailey, in Buffalo, N.Y. She attended public schools in Buffalo and graduated from Caton's Business College in 1893. She attended Emerson College in 1901-02. In 1902 she married Charles Elmer Helvie and lived with him in Manila, the Philippines, for the next eight years. She wrote articles for various publications and was for one year the women's editor of The Manila Times. She returned to Buffalo in 1910, where she worked as a clerk. Her marriage was annulled in 1913. She enrolled in Meadville Theological School in 1914 and graduated in 1917. She was ordained in Wheeling, W.Va., on Dec. 6, 1917. She served Unitarian churches in Wheeling (Oct. 1917-Sept. 1921), Moline, Ill. (Sept. 1921-Sept. 1926), Westborough, Mass. (Jan.-Nov. 1927), Middleboro, Mass. (Jan. 1929-Sept. 1935), and Milford, N.H. (Sept. 1938-Apr. 1942). When not installed in a particular congregation, she actively supplied other pulpits. She died July 21, 1958.
For more information, see Catherine F. Hitchings, Universalist and Unitarian Women Ministers, 2nd ed., Unitarian Universalist Historical Society, 1985. The library has photocopies of Clara Cook Helvie's unpublished works Unitarian Women Ministers (1928) and Necrology of Women Serving in the Universalist Ministry (1950), which are available through interlibrary loan. The library also has a small collection of her papers (bMS 1446/87). [Photo: bMS 1446/87]