News clips

Capital Woman Leader of Bahá’ísm in United States

The Washington Times
November 10, 1912
Washington, DC

Oriental Prophet and Chief of Sect Is Visiting This City.

Mrs. Arthur Jeffrey Parsons, wife of the chief of the division of prints in the Library of Congress, and for many years a social leader in this city, is one of the most enthusiastic followers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Oriental prophet and mystic who is now in Washington.

Two years ago, Mrs. Parsons, whose residence is at 1704 Eighteenth street northwest, went to Turkey to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on his release from forty years’ confinement in a Saracen prison. For a long time she had steeped herself in the literature of Bahá’ísm, and had become a convert to its teachings.

When the “Young Turks” came into power, one of their first acts was to discharge all religious prisoners, and Mrs. Parsons immediately planned a trip abroad so she might meet the leader of her sect and arrange, if possible, for his visit to the United States.

Mrs. Parsons was one of the first to greet the aged mystic when the prison doors opened, and told him of her plan. So touched was he by her devotion and enthusiasm that he promised to come to America if he lived. When Mrs. Parsons was absent in Europe in the summer of 1910, reports were current in Washington that she intended to remain in the Orient and would no longer be seen in the social circles of the Capital. When Mrs. Parsons returned to the city the following winter, however, she set at rest all rumors that she would leave her home, and immediately set to work to promoting the cult of Bahá’ísm in the United States.

There are now more than a hundred converts to the cult in Washington alone, and they meet every night at Mrs. Parsons’ residence to hear the teachings of the religion expounded by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who is the guest of Mrs. Parsons while in the city.

Mr. Parsons, who is one of the most distinguished bibliographers in the city, does not profess any open allegiance to Bahá’ísm, although he is believed to be in sympathy with many of its teachings.