Archives Unbound: Religious Studies

The activities and effects of Christian evangelism around the world, the development of witchcraft as a religion, the growth of social activism in the US, and more may be explored extensively in this broad collection of records, reports, and texts from religious organizations.

For specific information about a subject within the collection, select from the menu topics below:

  • Missions and Missionaries

    American Indian Correspondence: Presbyterian Historical Society Collection of Missionaries' Letters, 1833-1893 - The men and women of the Foreign Board of Missions served a variety of tribes. Their letters, intended to be reports from the field, are far more than dry discussions of mission business.  Ranging in length from single fragments to reports of over twenty pages, they describe the Indian peoples and cultures, tribal factionalism, relations with the U.S. government, and the many problems and achievements of the work.  The letters often become personal and even anguished, as the writers disclose their fears, worries, and hopes.

    Evangelism and the Syria-Lebanon Mission: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1869-1910 - The collection documents the evangelistic, educational and medical mission of the BFM in Syria-Lebanon. It provides a unique view into the turbulent political forces that dominated Syria and Lebanon's history during the 19th century, and illustrates the difficulty of conducting mission work  under the conditions of internecine religious warfare.

    Evangelism in Africa: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1835-1910 - The records of the Board of Foreign Missions (BFM) of the Presbyterian church provide valuable information on social conditions in developing Third World nations and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Among the missions' responsibilities was the establishment of indigenous churches, educational facilities, hospitals, orphanages, and seminaries. The majority of materials is incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters. Other primary sources include diary accounts, sermon manuscripts, receipts of sale, and field accounts. 

    Evangelism in China: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1837-1911 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in China and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Evangelism in India: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Mission, 1833-1910 - Evangelism in India took the form primarily of village itineration where male and female missionaries ministered to the spiritual needs of the populace while simultaneously attending to their medical and educational needs. The collection documents the Board of Foreign Missions' tripartite ministry (Farukhabad, Punjab, and the West Indian missions) in India but also reflects the development of the modern Indian state in a broader sense. Reaction to foreigners generally and Protestant missionaries specifically, discontent with British rule and the development of the Independence movement, and racial and internecine religious warfare between Hindu and Muslim populations are well documented. 

    Evangelism in Iran: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1847-1911 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in Persia (renamed Iran in 1935) and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Evangelism in Japan: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1859-1911 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in Japan and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Evangelism in Korea: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1884-1911 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in Korea and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Evangelism in Latin America: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1854-1911 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in Latin America and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Evangelism in Philippines: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1898-1910 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in the Philippines and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Evangelism in Thailand: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1840-1910 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in Siam (renamed Thailand in 1948) and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Global Missions and Theology - This collection documents the broad range of Nineteenth Century religious missionary activities, practices and thought in the United States by reproducing pivotal personal narratives, organizational records, and biographies of the essential leaders, simple missionaries, and churches. This collection includes materials on missionary activities among Native Americans and African Americans, both slaves and freedmen. In addition, it highlights activities in far-flung regions and countries, such as Africa, Fiji and Sandwich Islands, India, China, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Hawaii.

    Methodist Episcopal Church Archives: Missionary Activities - This collection comprises materials relating to Methodist Episcopal Missionary activities in Italy. This product comprises selections from the following microfilm collections: The Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church Annual Reports, 1819 - 1906 (all 11 reels); The Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church Annual Reports, 1906 - 1916 (all 10 reels); Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary Correspondence, 1846 - 1912 (reels 9 and 11 only); and Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary Correspondence, 1915 - 1940 (reels 213 -222 only).

    The Chinese Recorder and the Protestant Missionary Community in China, 1867-1941 - Knowledge was valuable to the Christian missionaries who went to China in the nineteenth century. They wanted to spread the knowledge of Western Christianity and technology to the Chinese, but also they wished to exchange information among themselves about the work they were doing. The need to keep informed about the activities of their counterparts in other locations in the country was evident very soon after they arrived in China. Although the first Protestant missionary reached China in 1807, missionaries were not legally permitted to live in the interior of the country until after the signing of the 1860 treaties between China and Britain and France.

  • Religious History

    Jewish Underground Resistance: The David Diamant Collection - David Diamant is the pseudonym of David Erlich, a Jewish communist and committed member of the underground resistance during World War II. This collection consists of original documents collected by Diamant over a period of approximately 30 years dealing primarily with the Jewish segment of the French underground resistance; many of the documents originate with communist groups, and some deal with Polish groups. Most of the documents are in French, while some are in Yiddish.

    Sunday School Movement and Its Curriculum - Early in the 19th century various denominations and non-denominational organizations began to create Sunday schools in an effort to educate the illiterate, particularly children. By mid-century, the Sunday school movement had become extremely popular and Sunday school attendance was a near universal aspect of childhood. Working-class families were grateful for this opportunity to receive an education. Religious education was, of course, always also a core component. The Bible was the textbook used for learning to read. Likewise, many children learned to write by copying out passages from the Scriptures. A basic catechism was also taught, as were spiritual practices such as prayer and hymn-singing. Inculcating Christian morality and virtues was another goal of the movement. Sunday school pupils often graduated to become Sunday school teachers, thereby gaining an experience of leadership not to be found elsewhere in their lives.

    The French Mandate in The Lebanon, Christian-Muslim Relations, and the U.S. Consulate at Beirut, 1920-1941 - This collection consists of correspondence and telegrams received and sent by the American consular post in Beirut. The topics covered by these records include the protection of interests of American citizens, foreign trade, shipping, and immigration. But there is more to these records than traditional consular activities – the Beirut post provides a unique look into the French Mandate in Syria-Lebanon. Consular officials reported on the administration of the Mandate, its problems, French repression and Arab rebellion. There are unique materials on the Druse Rebellion of 1925 ,religious conflicts between Christian, Maronite, and Muslim communities, repression by French military forces, French efforts to settle Bedouin tribes in Syria, nationalist organizations and rebellion, anti-Zionism activities, riots and civil disturbances in the cities, villages and rural areas, failure of the Franco-Lebanese Treaty of 1936, creation of a new mandate administration in Syria in 1939, the war clouds in Europe, and Palestinian views on Syrian independence.

    The Jewish Question: Records from the Berlin Document Center - This collection comprises documents from a wide variety of sources, including the Gestapo, local police and government offices, Reich ministries, businesses, etc., pertaining to Jewish communities. These records are organized into various sub-collections, i.e., Archiv Schumacher, Streicher, Hans Frank, Hauptarchiv der NSDAP, Geschaedigte Juden, etc., and Ordner, or folders, and include newspaper clippings, letters, manuscripts, pamphlets, reports and other documents originating with the Sturmabteilung (SA), Schutzstaffel (SS), Gestapo, Reich Ministry of Justice, and Reichskulturkammer (RKK, Reich Chamber of Culture) from 1920- 1945.

    U.S. Relations with the Vatican and the Holocaust, 1940-1950 - Much has been published chronicling the role of Pope Pius XII regarding refugees, the Holocaust and relations with America during the war years and the immediate post-war period. This publication provides a wealth of unique correspondence, reports and analyses, memos of conversations, and personal interviews exploring such themes U.S.-Vatican relations, Vatican’s role in World War II, Jewish refugees, Italian anti-Jewish laws during the papacy of Pius XII, and the pope’s personal knowledge of the treatment of European Jews.

    Witchcraft in Europe and America - The earliest texts in this comprehensive collection on witchcraft date from the 15th century and the latest are from the early 20th century. The majority of the material concerns the 16th to 18th centuries, the so-called "classic period." In addition to these classic texts, the collection includes anti-persecution writings, works by penologists, legal and church documents, exposés of persecutions, and philosophical writings and transcripts of trials and exorcisms.

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