Monday, 23 July 2012

After Jonathan Edwards

After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology, edited by Oliver Crisp and Doug Sweeney, just arrived in the mail. I look forward to reading the essays, one of which is by my friend Charlie Phillips, a former Bebbington student, who wrote his PhD dissertation on Edwards Amasa Park.

The book's contributors are (in order): Mark Valeri, Ken Minkema, Allen Guelzo, James Byrd, Oliver Crisp, Paul Helm, Peter Jauhiainen, Gerry McDermott, David Kling, Charlie Phillips, Charles Hambrick-Stowe, Mark Noll, Michael Haykin, Michael McClymond, Anri Morimoto, and D.G. Hart. Gerry McDermott spoke last year at UTC for the LeRoy Martin Distinguished Lecture Series, and we have Daryl Hart coming this year.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Turning Points, Third Edition

I'm back in Chattanooga and thankful that I arrived safely after driving 2,400 miles over the course of nine days. I visited archives in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Hartford, New Haven, Boston,  Concord (New Hampshire), and New York City. I have about a month before the fall semester begins at UTC to plow through the material that I have collected and determine which manuscripts and rare books to include in my forthcoming reader. My hope is to finish a draft of the anthology before the start of the fall semester.

When I went to my office today, I was pleasantly surprised to find a gratis copy of Mark Noll's third edition of Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity from Baker Academic in my faculty mailbox. This is the best single volume on the history of Christianity. It is written primarily to be used in single-semester courses on the history of Christianity. If you only have one semester to cover the major people, themes, and events in church history, Noll's book is the obvious choice for a textbook.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

NYPL Miscellaneous Personal Name File

I'm now in NYC, staying for two days to do research at the New York Public Library and the New York Historical Society.

The NYPL is one of the most amazing libraries in the world. Although the special collections/manuscript department has odd hours, and there is a long wait from the time you order material to receiving it, there are some real gems here. I found the book Nymphas to Sosipater, which was edited by John Erskine and contains published letters from Joseph Bellamy to Erskine that talk about the theology of Robert Sandeman. According to Worldcat, there are only two books extant.

For those of you interested in doing research at the NYPL, I would recommend that you take a look at the Miscellaneous Personal Name File in the manuscript department. Take a look at the list of names and see if there is anyone of interest, and then order the particular file. The file may contain a scrap of paper or several personal letters, and so it is a bit of a treasure hunt. I have found some very interesting letters in the Miscalleous Name File.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Thrill of Colonial Printing

Today, while witnessing a colonial printing demonstration in Boston, I was given the privilege of printing my very own copy of the Boston Gazette's original printing of the Declaration of Independence. At 21 Unity Street in Boston, near the Old North Church, Gary Gregory, posing as Benjamin Edes, printer of the Boston Gazette at the time of the American Revolution, has set up an authentic colonial print shop. He produces copies of Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre and the Boston Gazette's printing of the Declaration of Independence. For those of you interested in the history of the book and colonial printing, this is a must-see stop in Boston.

When I told Gary that I had done some research on Samuel Kneeland, who printed the Boston Gazette before Edes and Gill, he invited me to take on his role as the printer. A deal was struck: he would let me print a broadside if I sent him my article, "Samuel Kneeland of Boston: Colonial Bookseller, Printer, and Publisher of Religion," that was published in the January 2012 issue of Printing History.  Being able to work the press was quite a thrill for me. I was excited to see how a colonial press worked, having read about the process. Thanks Gary!

Below are some images taken from my digital camera. A woman in the audience took the pictures, but, unfortunately, many of the images came out blurry.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Research in Connecticut

I am currently in Boston, having completed my research at Yale's Beinecke Library in New Haven and the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. I have always loved going to New Haven to do research at the Beinecke Library. Yale's campus is beautiful and the staff at the Beinecke are very courteous and helpful. The Connecticut Historical Society is also a pleasure to visit, and is usually less busy. As has been the case in the past, I was the only person in the library doing research.

On Friday while at Yale I looked at the Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, a collection of letters from one of Jonathan Edwards's daughters who married Aaron Burr Sr. Although the journal has been published years ago by Carol Karlsen and Laurie Crumpacker, I wanted to transcribe my own excerpt from the original manuscript to use for my forthcoming evangelical reader.  Like most eighteenth-century manuscripts, the journal is full of misspellings and grammatical errors. I will need to decide soon if I should amend the spelling and punctuation of the published excerpt.

Yesterday (Saturday), I spent the morning at the Connecticut Historical Society, which holds a photocopy of the diary of Hannah Heaton and the journal of Nathan Cole. I intend to use excerpts from both texts for the evangelical reader. Both manuscripts have been published (Barbara Lacey's The World of Hannah Heaton and Michael Crawford's 1976 journal article, "The Spiritual Travels of Nathan Cole" in The William and Mary Quarterly), and so it was a matter of completing my own transcription from the original documents and then checking my work against the published accounts. Although I have read Crawford's published version of Nathan Cole's journal several times, it was a thrill to view the original journal composed in the middle of the eighteenth century. Cole's account of how he raced to Middletown, CT to hear George Whitefield preach is priceless.

I look forward to some sightseeing at Boston on Sunday before I look at two rare texts by Henry Alline at Harvard.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Research Trip

I'm back from North Carolina and Michigan, but now traveling throughout the northeast on a research trip.

Yesterday, I spent some time at the Library of Congress, and today I am in Philadelphia at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The HSP has one of the best collections of 18th-c. manuscripts in America. That's the good news. The bad news is that the society does not list their collections online. This means that you have to go to the society and physically look up the manuscripts on an ancient card catalog system.

When I finish my research at the HSP it's on to Yale's Beinecke Library and the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. These are two major stops for me since both Yale and the CHS hold manuscripts that I intend to use for my forthcoming evangelical reader.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Clapham Sect: Family and Friends

I am now in West Michigan, enjoying the cooler weather and time with my extended family. While at North Carolina, I had the chance to finish reading Anne Stott's latest book, Wilberforce: Family and Friends. I think that the book is misnamed. The title should be, The Clapham Sect: Family and Friends, since it evenly distributes information on the Wilberforces, the Thorntons, the Stephens, the Macaulays, and Hannah More.

The book is interesting, but must not be mistaken as light reading. It is in many ways a more detailed and technical work than her previous book on Hannah More. The narrative gets bogged down in its details at times, and bounces around in terms of dates. I also had trouble keeping track of the extensive names and connections among the Clapham Sect. These negative features, however, do not detract from the book's significant strengths. I was fascinated by the story that Stott constructed about the children of the Clapham Sect. William Wilberforce Jr. is especially interesting in that he seemed to be openly defiant to his father's evangelical faith. Junior was reportedly mischievous and viewed as a bad influence by the Thorntons, who wanted to guard their children from him. The final chapters of the book provided interesting material on the legacy of the Clapham Sect and what happened religiously with the second and third generation, many of whom veered away from the religion of their parents. All this to say, I would categorize the book as a true monograph that should not be read by a lay audience. I was therefore surprised to see the book sold at chain bookstores, such as Waterstone's and Blackwell's in Britain.

For any scholar who wishes to avoid a hagiographic depiction of Wilberforce and/or the Clapham Sect, Wilberforce: Family and Friends will be required reading since it offers an extensive report on this interesting network of early nineteenth-century evangelicals.