Katharine Lehmann was born on August 13, 1876. She was the youngest of six children, born into a family that valued service to the church to which they belonged, the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States (JSO). Miss Lehmann enrolled at Lima College, Lima, Ohio, and received a bachelor of arts degree in 1897, in addition to a diploma in music in 1896 and a diploma in elocution in 1898.
For two years she taught history, German, Greek, and English at Circleville High School, Circleville, Ohio, before moving in 1902 with her brother to Bellevue, Ohio. In Bellevue Miss Lehmann taught private music lessons and served as choir director and organist at St. John’s for twenty-five years.
Miss Lehmann’s involvement with women’s organizations began early on. She was very instrumental in the formation of one of the predecessors to the Women's Missionary Federation (WMF), the JSO’s Women’s Missionary Conference (WMC). She expressed an interest in helping to form some type of women’s synodical organization. When the WMC formed in 1914, it elected Miss Lehmann its first recording secretary. She served in that office until 1918. In 1921 she began the Women’s Department section in the JSO publication Lutheran Standard. She saw it as a way of promoting the ideas and work of the WMC.
Miss Lehmann later chaired the Joint Committee on Merger that had as its primary duty to prepare for the first meeting of the new WMF, a merger of the WMC of the JSO, the General Federation of Women’s Organizations of the Iowa Synod, and women’s societies of the Buffalo Synod. Miss Lehmann continued to serve as president of the WMC until 1931 when, after the merger that created the American Lutheran Church (ALC), she was elected to the post of President of the newly formed WMF. She served as president until her retirement in 1950.
In addition to serving with the WMF organization, Miss Lehmann served on the Board of Directors for Milwaukee Hospital and on the Board of the Deaconess Motherhouse in Milwaukee. In 1937 she became one of the first women to serve on the Board of Regents at Capital University. She was also an advisory member on the Board of Foreign Missions of the ALC.
As part of her duties as president of WMF, Miss Lehmann would travel to the various mission fields supported by the WMF. Each year she logged approximately 15,000 miles traveling to visit districts. She also attended district conventions where she spoke about progress made in WMF programs and highlighted areas that needed additional work, funds, or focus.
In recognition of her pioneering work and achievements for the WMF, in 1943 Capital University bestowed upon Miss Lehmann an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. In 1950 at the WMF Convention, a resolution passed recommending the hospital in Renigunta, India, for which the WMF provided funds for construction, be renamed the Katharine Lehmann Hospital and the school for missionaries’ children in Papua New Guinea be renamed the Katharine Lehmann School and Health Station. She continued to serve in her role as president emeritus writing articles for Women’s Missionary Outlook and providing advice on federation matters.
The records are from 1931-1986 with the bulk dating from 1931-1950. Record types include travel diaries, handwritten drafts of speeches and articles, printed information and promotional booklets, and newspaper clippings and magazine articles. The majority of the records are copies of speeches and addresses Miss Lehmann gave at various functions. There are also draft copies of speeches Miss Lehmann gave on a variety of topics including pioneer women of Ohio, mission work in India, ALC Mexican Mission work, and influential people of the Bible. The collection is also available on microfilm.