African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project
About the Project

About the Project

The goal of African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project is to produce a comprehensive historical interpretation of African-American religion, from the earliest African-European encounters along the west coast of Africa to the present day. This will be presented in a three-part, multi-volume series combining historical narration and representative documents. Additional documents, interpretive commentary, bibliographies, and research memoranda will be made available through this website.

The goals and methods of the project are explained in more detail in the Editorial Statement. It describes the origins and development of the project, its scope, and its editorial methods. The statement also explains why the project begins its story in 1441 and is divided into the following three periods:

African-American Religion in the Atlantic World: 1441–1808

African-American Religion—The Continental Phase: 1808–1906

African-American Religion—The Global Phase: 1906–Present

The project plans to publish with the
University of Chicago Press beginning in 2007 a work of three volumes, provisionally titled African-American Religion: A Historical Interpretation with Representative Documents. A second series of up to thirteen volumes may follow.

The following material is or will be available through this website:

1. Working drafts of some of the broad interpretive essays to be published in the series. Currently, a partial draft of the Editorial Statement is available.

2. Sample Documents. These include both documents to be published in one of the volumes (together with their interpretive introductory headnotes) and other documents that, in whole or in part, will be omitted from the published collection. Currently, the following documents or sets of documents are available:

Betsey Stockton’s Journal (November 20, 1822–July 4, 1823)

“Where Katy Lived, the Whole Aspect of the Neighborhood Was Changed”: Lewis Tappan’s Obituary for Catherine Ferguson (1854)

African Americans and Billy Sunday in Atlanta (November–December 1917)

“Thank God That He Is Not of This Great White Race . . .”: Francis Grimké Praises Toyohiko Kagawa (1936)

3. A variety of Research Resources, compiled by the Project as part of its work. These include both bibliographies and research memoranda. Currently, the following bibliographical essays are available:

Retelling Carter Woodson’s Story: Archival Sources for Afro-American Church History,” written by Albert J. Raboteau (Princeton University) and David W. Wills (Amherst College), with Randall K. Burkett (Emory University), Will B. Gravely (Denver University), and the late James Melvin Washington.

African-American Religious History, 1919–1939: Bibliographic Essay and Resource Guide,” written by Randall K. Burkett (Emory University) and David W. Wills (Amherst College).

4. A variety of Teaching Resources, developed by persons associated with the Project. These include both sample course syllabi and other teaching-related materials. Currently, five course syllabi are available: Religion 319 (A Princeton undergraduate seminar), Religion 320 (a Princeton undergraduate lecture/discussion course), Black Studies 28/Religion 32 (an Amherst undergraduate course), AfAm/Anthro/Religious Studies 90 (a UNC–Chapel Hill undergraduate course), and Religious Studies 203 (a UNC–Chapel Hill graduate seminar). Also available is the text of an informal talk on teaching by David W. Wills: “Research and Teaching in American Religious History at a Liberal Arts College: Some Personal Reflections” and an initial list of Recommended Videos.

5. Occasional Special Features produced in relation to the Project’s work but involving persons not associated with it. Currently available are the papers presented at “Race, Religion, and Nationalism: Three Books,” a symposium held at Amherst College, October 26–27, 2001. The authors of the papers are: W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Robert Gooding-Williams, Will B. Gravely, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Dale E. Peterson, Nancy Ruttenburg, and Valerie Smith.

6. Advice for Beginners about how to start their study of African-American religion.

The Project is not able to answer research queries, but invites feedback on any of the material currently made available.

The general editor of the project is David W. Wills, Winthrop H. Smith ’16 Professor of American History and American Studies (Religion and Black Studies), Amherst College. Albert J. Raboteau, Henry W. Putnam Professor of Religion at Princeton University, is editor emeritus.

The project staff also currently includes the research associate and managing editor, Scott Sessions. Patricia G. Holland is managing editor emeritus.

The project was founded in 1987. Since 1993, it has been headquartered at Amherst College.

Copyright © 2006 The Trustees of Amherst College and
African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project
Amherst College #2269, P. O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002–5000

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