Protestantism and Cultural Change in American History

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Tue, 09/01/1992
End Date: 
Wed, 12/31/1997

“Protestantism and Cultural Change in American History” sponsored the work of two prominent historians at Harvard Divinity School: William R. Hutchison on the changing relationship of the Protestant religious establishment to pluralism in America from the colonial period to the present, and David D. Hall on the study of “lived religion” in the daily experience of ordinary Protestants in American history. The grant supported the work of nineteen Lilly Fellows (doctoral students), funded the closing phase of the Chosen People Project with the publication of a major book, provided for the final production and promotion of Hall’s book on lived religion, and sponsored a major conference in September 1996 on change and continuity in American religious history along with the dissemination of conference results. <p> Lilly Fellows concentrated their research on interactions between the Protestant mainstream and their chosen topic of concern. They gave progress reports in the Harvard Colloquium in American Religious History, held conversations with noted scholars in the field at two conferences, and presented papers at the Lilly Fellows Seminar. The project also witnessed the completion of the Chosen People Project with the editing and promotion of the volume Many Are Chosen: Divine Election and Western Nationalism, edited by William R. Hutchison and Hartmut Lehmann (Trinity Press International, 1994). <p> Hall’s study on Lived Religion encompassed five interrelated phases: an initial period of informal consultation; a course in the Harvard Divinity School curriculum on lived religion; support for individual research projects; two major conferences in September 1994 and May 1996; and the publication of revised conference papers in Hall’s book Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice (Princeton University Press, 1997). Hutchison’s research resulted in an essay entitled “Diversity and the Pluralist Ideal” in Perspectives on American Religion, edited by Peter W. Williams (Blackwell, 1999). The project concluded with the “Something New” conference that convened 75 specialists in American religion at Harvard Divinity School in September 1996. Invited participants presented papers contrasting “new” developments in contemporary American religion with precedents in American history resulting in a published piece by Mark Silk titled “Something New, Something Old: Changes and Continuities in American Religious History” (Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life, 1998).