Scholars of colonial America have a new tool for researching religious thought in the Southern colonies. Southern Manuscript Sermons before 1800: A Bibliography, edited by Michael A. Lofaro, is now available in both book and database form. Newfound Press has published the bibliography as a book, available at newfoundpress.utk.edu for online viewing or for print-on-demand. The University of Tennessee Libraries features a searchable database of the bibliography among its digital collections, available at www.lib.utk.edu/digitalcollections.
Southern Manuscript Sermons before 1800 is the first guide to the study of the manuscript sermon literature of the Southern colonies/states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The bibliography contains entries for over 1600 sermons by over a hundred ministers affiliated with eight denominations.
Richard Beale Davis began the bibliography in 1946 as part of his research for Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763, which won the National Book Award in history. Michael A. Lofaro, Lindsay Young Professor of American studies and American literature at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, took over the project in 1976, expanded the colonial entries (pre-1764), and added the period of 1764-1799. George M. Barringer contributed entries for Jesuit sermons. Sandra G. Hancock contributed those for Thomas Cradock.
Both the book and database contain in-depth descriptions of the sermons, over 90 percent of which are unknown. The database provides multiple avenues of access. Searches can be constructed and limited by single or combined criteria of author, repository, book of the Bible, date, state, denomination, keyword, and short title.
Scholars can employ both versions of this tool to construct a more complete picture of the Southern mind before 1800 and to reveal how that mind contributes to a national ethos. The bibliography will aid many disciplines — religion, cultural and American studies, history, literature, political science, sociology, psychology, etc. — and all those who wish to interpret the past and its effect upon the present. It will lead to a more balanced appraisal of American intellectual history by encouraging access to a large body of southern sermons to place alongside those of the northern and middle states for critical assessment.
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