In 2016 the venerable American Bible Society (ABS), one of the earliest voluntary religious organizations in the United States with a national scope, will be celebrating its 200th anniversary.
The ABS recently asked me if I was interested in writing an academic but accessible history of the organization to be released during the anniversary year. After some conversation with the ABS brass, I have agreed to take on this task. Though I will be working closely with the history and library staff of the ABS, and will have complete access to the organization’s records, the book will be entirely my own. I have been granted complete academic freedom to write the book as I see fit. I am envisioning a book that uses the ABS and its institutional history as a window into American history, American religious history, and the history of the Bible in America. Due to some consulting work I did with the ABS a few years ago, I already have a nice start on the project.
Needless to say, I will be spending a good chunk of my summer in New York City at the ABS headquarters. I am also thrilled to be working with a small team of research assistants led by my former Messiah College research assistant Katie Garland. Katie, who is finishing her second year in the Public History program at the University of Massachusetts, has been hired by the ABS to help me with the project.
This project does not come without some serious challenges. We need to deliver this book to a publisher sometime in mid-2015 in order to get it on the shelves in time for the bicentennial. But I am confident that it can be done and done well. I hope to nail down a publisher by the end of this summer. If there are any editors out there who are interested please let me know.
I am sure that we will be blogging our way through this experience. Stay tuned.
Brian Franklin says
Congratulations! I've dabbled in a little ABS history from Elias Boudinot's days but never went any further. Looking forward to reading it!
Devin C. Manzullo-Thomas says
Glad to hear you've taken up this challenge, John. Looking forward to seeing the results!
Congratulations, John. Well done to negotiate complete academic freedom.