Thursday, June 26, 2014

On Writing a History of the American Bible Society--Update #11

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My first week at the American Bible Society archives in New York is now half over.  (I will be here for three more weeks later this summer).  I continue to read through the American Bible Society Extracts looking at the way the auxiliary Bible societies carried out the distribution work of the national society.  I am finding all kinds of anecdotes from ABS field agents bringing bibles to the remote corners of the country.  For example, an agent in Pittsburgh often waded into the Ohio River to sell bibles to vessels navigating the waterway.  In his report to the American Bible Society he claimed that it was getting too cold and icy so he was going to have to stop his work for the season.

I am getting really fascinated by the constant use of water metaphors to describe the ABS reach into the nation's hinterland in the early 19th century.  The auxiliary societies often mention the way the Bible and the evangelical message of salvation is "streaming" throughout the country and "flowing" into local communities. Of course all of this is happening at a time in American history when canals and river navigation are literally allowing goods (bibles?) to "stream" and "flow" from one place to another.

I did not get in a full eight hours of work today because I spent an hour talking with a reporter from the Newark Star-Ledger about the Greenwich Tea Burning.  More on that later.