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Adams, Hannah (02 October 1755–15 December 1831), historian of religions and writer, was born in Medfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Thomas Adams, Jr., a merchant of “English goods” and books, and Elizabeth Clark. She was a distant cousin of President John Adams. Adams lost her mother when she was eleven; her father remarried and had four more children with his second wife. Using the inheritance of her grandfather’s prosperous farm for capital, her father opened a store. By the time she was in her teens the business had failed and depleted the family’s resources to a level of need from which they would never recover. Although her father was never able to bring to his family any financial stability, he was able to share with his daughter an avid thirst for knowledge and his love of reading. In his youth, illness had prevented him from pursuing formal education, but, driven by personal ambition, he became extremely well read and mastered an exhaustive collection of facts....

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Adams, William (25 January 1807–31 August 1880), minister and seminary president, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, the son of John Adams, an educator, and Elizabeth Ripley. Adams grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, where his father was the principal of Phillips Academy. He entered Yale College in 1824, where he received his A.B. in 1827. After college he returned home to study at Andover Theological Seminary and to assist his father in teaching. He completed his seminary training in 1830 and was ordained a Congregational minister. He began service as the pastor of a church in Brighton, Massachusetts, in 1831. He married Susan P. Magoun in July 1831. His wife’s illness forced him to resign from the Brighton pastorate in early 1834, but following her death in May, he accepted a ministerial call to the Broome Street (later Central) Presbyterian Church in New York City. Since the Congregational and Presbyterian denominations then enjoyed a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, Adams switched denominations and was installed as pastor in November 1834. In August 1835 he married Martha B. Magoun, the sister of his first wife....

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Adger, John Bailey (13 December 1810–03 January 1899), Presbyterian missionary and seminary professor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of James Adger, a merchant and banker, and Sarah Elizabeth Ellison. His father was one of Charleston’s most affluent citizens. A graduate of Union College in Schenectady, New York (1828), and of Princeton Theological Seminary (1833), Adger married Elizabeth Keith Shewsbury of Charleston in June 1834. They would have eight children. Five weeks later the couple sailed to Smyrna, Asia Minor (now Izmir, Turkey), where Adger began his work as a missionary under the sponsorship of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Adger’s primary work was among the Armenians as a translator and manager of a printing press. During the late 1830s and early 1840s he translated the New Testament, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and ...

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Ahlstrom, Sydney Eckman (16 December 1919–03 July 1984), American religious historian, was born in Cokato, Minnesota, the son of Joseph T. Ahlstrom, a dentist, and Selma Eckman, a teacher. He received the B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1941. After serving as a captain in the army during World War II, he took an M.A. at the University of Minnesota in 1946 and the Ph.D. in American history at Harvard under Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., in 1952. In 1953 Ahlstrom married Nancy Ethel Alexander, an editor and the daughter of an Episcopal priest; together they had four children....

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Alexander, Archibald (17 April 1772–22 October 1851), theological scholar, was born in what is today Rockbridge County, Virginia, near Lexington, the son of William Alexander and Ann Reid, farmers. Alexander’s father was also a merchant. By local standards, the Alexanders enjoyed a solid affluence....

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Alexander, Joseph Addison (24 April 1809–28 January 1860), Presbyterian scholar and minister, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Janetta Waddel and Archibald Alexander, a Presbyterian minister. Alexander, who was always called Addison, grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, where in 1812 his father was called to be the first professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. At an early age, Alexander displayed the ability in languages that would make him a marvel throughout his life. By the time he began formal instruction with local tutors, his father had taught him the rudiments of Latin and Greek and also introduced him to Semitic languages. By the time he graduated from the College of New Jersey as a seventeen-year old in 1826, he had read the Koran in Arabic, made considerable progress in Persian and Syriac, and begun the wide-ranging study of contemporary European languages that he never stopped. It was his habit, begun before entering college and continuing to the week of his death, to read the Bible daily in at least six languages. Alexander’s nephew and biographer, Henry Carrington Alexander, concluded that he read, wrote, and spoke Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese; that he read without helps and wrote Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Greek, Romaic, and Chaldean; that he could read Ethiopic, Dutch, Sanskrit, Syriac, Coptic, Danish, Flemish, and Norwegian; and that he knew enough Polish, Swedish, Malay, Hindustani, and Chinese to peruse works in these languages. The linguistic marvel was also a social recluse who never married and who, despite great interest in travel and world affairs, lived contentedly in Princeton as a student and professor his whole life. ...

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Allen, Alexander Viets Griswold (04 May 1841–01 July 1908), Episcopal priest, theologian, and educator, was born in Otis, Massachusetts, the son of Ethan Allen, a teacher and Episcopal priest, and Lydia Child Burr. His father served churches in Massachusetts and Vermont. Both parents were strongly evangelical in the Episcopal manner of the time, emphasizing biblical authority and teaching more than sacramental theology—a conviction that produced conflict in several of the churches that Allen’s father served. Their piety shaped Allen’s early views, leading him to enroll at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1859. Kenyon was an Episcopal institution then of an evangelical stamp. An excellent student, Allen delivered the valedictory address upon graduating in 1862 and immediately entered Bexley Hall, a theological seminary in Gambier....

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Ames, Edward Scribner (21 April 1870–29 June 1958), theologian and Disciples of Christ minister, was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the son of Lucius Bowles Ames, a Disciples minister and farmer, and Adaline Scribner, a housekeeper. Ames was educated at Drake University, receiving a B.A. in 1889 and an M.A. in 1891. He then studied at Yale, where he received a B.D. in 1892. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1895. After teaching at Butler College in Indianapolis from 1897 to 1900, Ames moved to Chicago as pastor of the Hyde Park (later University) Church, Disciples of Christ, serving until 1940. In 1893 he married Mabel Van Meter; they had four children. Ames began teaching philosophy at the University of Chicago in 1900. He later edited the ...

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Anderson, Rufus (17 August 1796–30 May 1880), mission administrator and theologian, was born in North Yarmouth, Maine, the son of Rufus Anderson, a Congregational minister, and Hannah Parsons. His mother died when he was seven, and Anderson moved to Wenham, Massachusetts, after his father remarried. He grew up in the midst of the evangelical Protestant Christianity of the churches and other religious organizations in which his father was a leader and attended the 1812 ordination of the first Protestant foreign missionaries sent to India from the United States by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Anderson attended Bowdoin College (A.B., 1818), where he experienced the conversion expected in his religious tradition and decided to be a missionary. He graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1822....

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Andrews, Edward Deming (06 March 1894–06 June 1964), educator, collector, and Shaker scholar, was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the son of Selden Deming Andrews, a hardware store owner, and Caroline Althea Volk. Andrews received a B.A. from Amherst College in 1916 and a Ph.D. in education from Yale University in 1930. He taught in secondary schools for seven years in Connecticut and Massachusetts while completing his graduate studies. His doctoral dissertation, “The Academies and County Grammar Schools of Vermont,” was an analysis of the rise of the public high school system. He married Faith Young in 1921, and they had two children....

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Bacon, Benjamin Wisner (15 January 1860–01 February 1932), clergyman and theological professor, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the son of Susan (née Bacon) and Leonard Woolsey Bacon, a clergyman. Bacon grew up surrounded by the traditions, habits and the learning of a family of distinguished New England clerics. His paternal grandfather, ...

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Ballou, Hosea (30 April 1771–07 June 1852), theologian and clergyman, was born in Richmond, New Hampshire, the son of Maturin Ballou, a farmer and unpaid Baptist minister, and Lydia Harris, who came from a Rhode Island Quaker family and died when her son was two years old. Growing up in extreme poverty, Ballou had less than three years of formal schooling. A few months before his nineteenth birthday, he came forward in a revival meeting and joined his father’s church. But before the year was over Ballou’s interest in religion had led him to become a Universalist. Moving in with an older brother who was already a Universalist minister, Ballou prepared himself to teach and preach by attending first a community school and then a nearby academy. Despite the fact that his friends, after hearing his first sermon, delivered in 1791, doubted his “talent for such labor,” Ballou preached wherever he found an open door. The next year he determined to make the ministry his career even though he had to support himself by teaching. In 1793 he went to the first of the nearly fifty New England Universalist conventions he would attend, and by the next year’s session he had so impressed his colleagues that they spontaneously ordained him. In 1796 Ballou moved to Dana, Massachusetts, and in September of that year he married Ruth Washburn; they had nine children....

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Barber, Virgil Horace (09 May 1782–27 March 1847), clergyman and educator, was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, the son of Daniel Barber, an Episcopal minister, and Chloe Owen Chase. He studied for the ministry at Dartmouth College (1801–1803), while teaching at Cheshire Academy, where he had begun his formal education. In 1805 he was ordained a deacon of the Episcopal church in Waterbury, Connecticut; two years later, upon ordination to the priesthood, he became its pastor. That same year he married Jerusha Booth; they had four daughters and a son....

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Baron, Salo Wittmayer (26 May 1895–25 November 1989), educator and Jewish historian, was born in Tarnow, Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Elias Baron, a banker, and Minna Wittmayer. Baron’s orthodox, intellectually enlightened family was one of the wealthiest of the Jewish community in Tarnow. The primary languages spoken in the household were Polish and German. Besides the Barons’ holdings in the town, they also owned an estate in the country and had a share in a family oil field. Private tutors instructed Baron in both secular and religious subjects. He later studied in Kraków and then in Vienna, where he received doctorates in history (1917), political science (1922), and jurisprudence (1923). He also continued his Jewish studies at the rabbinical seminary in Vienna and soon became an instructor in Jewish history at Vienna’s Jewish Teachers College....

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Barton, George Aaron (12 November 1859–28 June 1942), Assyriologist and biblical scholar, was born in East Farnham, Quebec, Canada, the son of Daniel Barton, a farmer and blacksmith, and Mary Stevens Bull. He attended the Oakwood Seminary, Poughkeepsie, New York, becoming a minister of the Society of Friends in 1879, and graduated from Haverford College with an A.B. in 1882 and an M.A. in 1885. Around 1883 he moved to Boston, where he worked in insurance for a year, then from 1884 to 1889 taught mathematics and classics at the Friends School in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1884 he married Caroline Brewer Danforth; they adopted one child. In 1889 he entered Harvard Graduate School (M.A. 1890), where he studied Assyriology with David G. Lyon and Semitics and the Bible with Crawford H. Toy and Joseph H. Thayer. In 1891 he received his Ph.D. for a study, “The Semitic Ishtar Cult,” later published in the ...

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Beard, Richard (27 November 1799–02 December 1880), minister and educator, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, the son of Adam Beard, a schoolteacher, and Caty Barclay. His mother died in 1804, and his father remarried. Beard’s parents were Presbyterians who came under the influence of the Second Great Awakening, a period of heightened revivalism that began at the end of the eighteenth century and extended into the early years of the nineteenth century. They later became members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, a denomination that was a direct outgrowth of the revival movement, organized in Dickson, Tennessee, in 1810. Beard was converted and became a member of the New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian church in 1817. Beard was received as a candidate for the ministry by Nashville Presbytery in 1819, licensed in 1820, and ordained in 1822. Because his father was a teacher, Beard’s education had been “more extended than usual for the time in his church” (Crisman, p. 8), but he was required nonetheless to complete a tutorial program that was a prerequisite of the presbytery for anyone studying for the ministry. Candidates for the ministry were required to read and pass examinations on certain standard texts in general education and theology. Given the circumstances of the frontier, and due to the pressing need for ministers, this kind of educational preparation was sometimes accepted by the Cumberland Presbyterian church in lieu of a college degree....

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Beecher, Edward (27 August 1803–28 July 1895), clergyman and educator, was born in East Hampton, New York, the son of Lyman Beecher, a prominent Congregational minister, and Roxana Foote. Although always in the shadow of his more famous father and siblings, Beecher was a leader of the New School wing of the evangelical establishment, promoting a relatively conservative political and social agenda throughout the antebellum period. Beecher grew up in the Federalist stronghold of Litchfield, Connecticut, and graduated valedictorian of his Yale College class in 1822. He then became headmaster of the Hartford Grammar School and studied briefly at Andover before returning to Yale as a tutor in 1825. A year later, at his father’s urging, Beecher declined the offer of an academic position at Dartmouth College in favor of a pastorate at the prestigious Park Street Congregational Church in Boston. Four years later, Beecher’s pastorate fell victim to divisions within his congregation, overwork, and intimations of his psychological instability....

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Beissel, Johann Conrad (01 March 1692–06 July 1768), religious leader, was born in Eberbach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the son of Matthias Beissel, a baker, and Anna (maiden name unknown). He was baptized George Konrad Beissel. His alcoholic father died two months before his birth; his mother died when he was eight or nine. Conrad Beissel was raised by his older brothers and sisters. Possibly because of recent French depredation of the area where they lived, his family was very poor. Conrad was undernourished and remained comparatively small. According to tradition, he performed remarkably well during his brief attendance at his parish school. Nevertheless, he was largely self-educated. While still a youth, Beissel was apprenticed to a master baker, who also was a capable fiddler who taught Beissel to play the violin. Beissel became a popular performer and played at weddings, country dances, and other joyful occasions. He enjoyed the notoriety and attention, especially from women....

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Bellamy, Joseph (20 February 1719–06 March 1790), Congregational minister and theologian, was born in the Cheshire section of Wallingford, Connecticut, the son of Matthew Bellamy, a prosperous landowner, and Sarah Wood, who died when he was an infant. He and ten other children were raised by his father’s second wife, Mary Johnson. In 1731, at age twelve, Bellamy was sent to Yale College, from which he graduated in 1735. He then read theology with ...

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Bennet, Sanford Fillmore (21 June 1836–11 June 1898), physician and writer of popular verses and hymn texts, was born in Eden, New York, the son of Robert Bennet and Sally Kent. After spending his early years in New York, Bennet moved with his family to Lake County, Illinois. By the age of eighteen Bennet was teaching school in Wauconda, Illinois. In 1858 he entered the University of Michigan but did not complete a degree there, deciding instead to accept a position as the head of the Richmond, Illinois school district. After his marriage to Gertrude Crosby Johonnatt, Bennet moved to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he became co-owner and editor of the ...