Bibles, Catechisms, and Prayer Books
Given the religious underpinnings of most of the American colonies, the quantity and variety of religious publishing is hardly surprising. This section is limited to works which might be used for personal religious observances: Bibles, catechisms and prayer books. The Hymnals and Tracts collections are discussed elsewhere in this guidebook. Other types of devotional works are mainly found in the X100 classification of the Religion Collection. For all three groupings discussed below, American imprints published before 1821 are incorporated into the Dated Books and Dated Pamphlets Collection, and may be accessed as described in that section.
The Bibles Collection includes 180 linear feet of Bibles published in the United States between 1821 and 1876. The Foreign Bibles Collection houses 9 linear feet of Bibles published outside the United States, with a strong emphasis on the productions of American foreign mission presses. Both these collections are arranged by date of publication. In addition, some Bibles specifically designed for children are cataloged in the Children's Literature Collection. The Bibles Collection has been cataloged through 1830 and records are available in the online catalog. Only scattered items from the Foreign Bibles Collection have been cataloged. There is no bibliographic access to the remainder of these collections. There is limited annotation of the Society's Bible holdings in Margaret T. Hills's The English Bible in America (New York, 1961).
Catechisms, works presenting brief summaries of the basic principles of Christianity in question-and-answer format, form another collection. The Catechism Collection at AAS includes approximately 200 catechisms published in America between 1821 and 1876, including both juvenile and adult versions. This collection is completely cataloged and accessible through the online catalog.
Prayer books, collections of prayers intended for individual or family use, form the final collection discussed here. This collection includes prayer books published in the United States from 1821 through 1876. Like the Bibles, the Prayer Books Collection is arranged by date of publication, and is cataloged online through 1830, with no bibliographic access to the remainder of the collection.
- Kathleen M. Haley, Cataloger, North American Imprints Program