Friday, June 27, 2014

On Writing a History of the American Bible Society--Update #12

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USA vs. Germany in the ABS Atrium
Day four of my visit to the American Bible Society library and archives in New York was semi-productive.  I continue to make headway on the Extracts of the American Bible Society periodical, but my work yesterday was slowed by the USA-Germany World Cup soccer match. (The ABS staff is showing the match in the first floor atrium and cafe).  

I have been reading about the extraordinary efforts by agents of auxiliary Bible societies to canvass neighborhoods during the 1820s and 1830s. Local Bible agents--many of them were seminary students-- would visit every family in the vicinity in order to find out who could read, who had a Bible, and who needed a Bible.  I just got done reading about an attempt by the Nassau-Hall Bible Society in Princeton to visit every family in New Jersey, ascertain literacy rates, ascertain the number of Bibles in each family, and provide Bibles to those who were "destitute."  The Nassau Hall Society quickly gained support in this effort from Newark Bible Society, the Hunterdon and Somerset County Bible Society, the Bible Society of Monmouth, the Sussex Bible Society, and the Young Men's Bible Society of New Brunswick.  

These kind of state-wide efforts were the forerunner to the American Bible Society's attempt, during what was called the "First General Supply," to provide every family in the United States with a copy of the Bible.  More on that later.