Small Collection 43 [May 6, 1998]
American Tract Society; 1825-
Colporteur Letters; 1854-1858
There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.
The American Tract Society, a nondenominational Christian publishing house, was founded in 1825 by the merger of several small printing establishments. Believing that a very effective and inexpensive way to reach most of the world's peoples with the story of Jesus Christ is through the printed page, the Society produces Christian books, booklets, magazines, and leaflets. Each year the Society made available to prisons, hospitals, and missionary organizations free materials for their distribution. Military servicemen in seven major wars were provided Christian literature by the Society as well as the cadets at West Point who received Bibles each year.
In the 1840s, the Society began distribution of their materials through messengers, known as colporteurs. These men, preferably single, were usually ministers or seminary students who were sent out and supported by various societies. Occasionally called on to preach, their primary tasks were distribution of materials and fund raising. Financial support for the Society's ministry depended (as they do now) upon the charitable contributions of their Christian friends.
Scope and Content
The collection contains a few handwritten letters of the American Tract Society dealing mostly with activities of the Society in New York and Eastern Canada. Most of the correspondence is between the Rochester, Niagara and Toronto Societies; however, there is one interesting note from London. Another unusual item was an enclosure in a handbill announcing the services of one Rev. Bliss, who conducted seminars on "God's Providential Care of our Country..." Correspondents include Robert Sharp, Yates Hickey, Robert Conner, and Arthur Wickson.
The materials for this collection were received by the Center in July 1979 from Mrs. F. St. Cyr.