American Religious History: Pre-Civil War

A very polite former student who is preparing for graduate school writes:

I know that you are busy. However, if you have a few moments, could you send me an e-mail with suggested readings for the field of American Religious History, particularly the pre-Civil War era?…Again, I know that you are busy but I would like to start building a foundation for my future studies while I have some free time.

Before I answer, I thought I would put this to my readers. What are the “must reads” that I should include on this list?

3 thoughts on “American Religious History: Pre-Civil War

  1. I would add to the already great works listed:

    Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith
    Daniel Richter, Facing East from Indian Country
    Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence

    Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism, would probably be a good work to look at, although he goes beyond the Civil War era


  2. Randolph has some excellent suggestions, many of which I would assign myself.

    A couple others I like are:
    Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling
    Najar, Evangelizing the South
    Norton, In the Devil's Snare
    Raboteau, Slave Religion


  3. I'd love to hear thoughts on this as well — I'm putting together the book order for my fall grad class in exactly this subject right now. Here's my list from the last time around — in general, my bias is towards cultural and social history and away from a more formally theological, denominational or institutional approaches. I also try to combine a couple of classics with mostly newer works that I want to read — so this is less of a greatest hits than the question asks for, but I hope it's still useful:

    Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors.
    David D. Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment.
    Allan Greer, Mohawk Saint.
    Jon Sensbach, Rebecca's Revival.
    Thomas Kidd, The Great Awakening.
    Nathan Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity.
    Charles Irons, The Origins of Proslavery Christianity.
    Paul Johnson & Sean Wilentz, The Kingdom of Matthias.
    Leigh Eric Schmidt, Hearing Things.
    Ryan K. Smith, Gothic Arches, Latin Crosses.
    Sarah B. Gordon, The Mormon Question.
    Mark Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.


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