Wednesday, June 18, 2014

On Writing a History of the American Bible Society--Update #4

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I managed roughly six of hours of work today on the American Bible Society (ABS) project.  In preparation for the first chapter of the manuscript I read two documents written by Elias Boudinot, the first president of the organization and the brainchild behind its founding. 

In 1814, Boudinot, while serving as President of the New Jersey Bible Society, wrote a circular letter to most of the country's Bible societies asking them to unite in a national organization that would disseminate the Bible throughout the United States and abroad.

The Philadelphia Bible Society was one of the local societies that opposed the idea of a national Bible organization.  This morning I read the objections of the Philadelphia Bible Society and Boudinot's response to them.

There have been a lot of logistical things to think about this week.  This afternoon I had a meeting with Katie Garland, my graduate assistant (from the University of Massachusetts) on this project.  As I have noted in a previous post, Katie is working on the life of the ABS in the period between 1865-1918.  So far she has put in about 80 hours of work--enough to establish a chapter outline for this period .  Here are the themes of those chapters:

  • The ABS and Reconstruction
  • The ABS and Westward expansion (including Chinese immigration and work with Native Americans)
  • The ABS response to the financial panic of 1873 and the decline of the auxiliary program.
  • The ABS in the world (this chapter will probably run from 1830-1900)
  • The ABS's response to immigration, industrialization (and its consequences), and higher criticism of the Bible
I am also in the midst of planning next week's research trip to the ABS headquarters in New York City. Since my time in New York is limited, I need to plan carefully.  I must concentrate on the research materials that are only available in the ABS archives and not get caught up with materials that I can easily access on line or through records that the ABS archivist had digitized for me.  It looks like I will be spending most of my time reading The Bible Record, the monthly magazine of the organization.

I had hoped to start writing my first chapter this week, but I am less optimistic about getting started on this than I was twenty-four hours ago.  We will see what happens.  Stay tuned.