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Catalog Archive / Spring 2024

Understanding and Teaching Religion in US History

The Harvey Goldberg Series for Understanding and Teaching History
John Day Tully, Matthew Masur, and Brad Austin, Series Editors

How to learn, think, and teach about a vital and sometimes contentious topic

Religion is deeply embedded in American history, and one cannot understand American history’s broad dynamics without accounting for it. Without detailing the history of religions, teachers cannot properly explain key themes in US survey courses, such as politics, social dynamics, immigration and colonization, gender, race, or class. From early Native American beliefs and practices, to European explorations of the New World, to the most recent presidential elections, religion has been a significant feature of the American story. In Understanding and Teaching Religion in US History, a diverse group of eminent historians and history teachers provide a practical tool for teachers looking to improve history instruction at the upper-level secondary and undergraduate level.

This book offers a breadth of voices and approaches to teaching this crucial part of US history. Religion can be a delicate topic, especially in public education, and many students and teachers bring strongly held views and identities to their understanding of the past. The editors and contributors aim to help the reader see religion in fresh ways, to present sources and perspectives that may be unfamiliar, and to suggest practical interventions in the classroom that teachers can use immediately.


Karen J. Johnson, an associate professor and chair of history at Wheaton College, is the author of One in Christ: Chicago Catholics and the Quest for Interracial Justice.

Jonathan M. Yeager is the LeRoy A. Martin Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is the author of Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture, named Book of the Year by the Jonathan Edwards Center at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.




“An important contribution. Engagingly written and effectively organized, Understanding and Teaching Religion in US History provides especially useful frameworks for educators seeking ways to thoughtfully integrate religion throughout US survey courses.”
—William S. Cossen, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology

“A terrific combination of teaching pedagogy and pragmatic ideas of how to incorporate American religious history in the classroom. I wish this book existed when I first started teaching. Highly recommended!”
—Evan Jasper, Wheaton Academy




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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Why Religion Matters in Teaching US History, Karen J. Johnson and Jonathan Yeager

Part One: Frameworks for Teaching Religion in American History

2. Teaching American Religious History Academically, Thomas A. Kidd
3. Adding Religion to Themes You Already Teach: Religion as a Component of Diversity in America, Kevin Schultz
4. Talking about Religion and Race in the Classroom, Karen J. Johnson
5. African American Religious Experiences and Narratives of American History, Paul Harvey
6. Religion in American Women’s History, Andrea L. Turpin
7. Teaching Native American Religious Experiences and Narratives, Melissa Franklin- Harkrider
8. Teaching American Islam in the American History Classroom, Jaclyn Michael
9. Asian Religious Influences in American Life, Elijah Siegler
10. Teaching American Judaism, Jonathan Krasner

Part Two: Teaching Religion in American History in Specific Periods

11. Political Reform and Devotional Culture in Early New England, Adrian Weimer
12. Teaching the First Great Awakening, John Howard Smith
13. Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, John Fea
14. Framing the Constitutional Principles Governing Religion in the Early Republic, Daniel L. Dreisbach
15. Religion and Westward Expansion, John G. Turner
16. The Bible and Slavery before the Civil War, Mark A. Noll
17. What Connections Were There between Imperialism and Missionary Activity?, Kimberly Hill
18. American Religion during the Industrial Crisis of the Gilded Age, Heath Carter
19. The Prosperity Gospel in US History and Culture, Phillip Luke Sinitiere
20. The Effects of the Fundamentalist Modernist Split, George Marsden
21. How Did the Depression Change the Relationship between Church and State?, Alison Collis Greene
22. Religion during World War II and the Cold War, Matthew Avery Sutton
23. Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, J. Russell Hawkins
24. Teaching the Rise of the Religious Right in the Age of Culture Wars, Darren Dochuk


Also in the Series

Understanding and Teaching Contemporary US History since Reagan: Cover depicting an illustration of a red book with a hole shaped like the United States in the center of its cover. A wooden ladder emerges from the US shaped hole. Behind the cover is a blue, tiled background.

Understanding and Teaching Contemporary US History since Reagan
Edited by Kimber M. Quinney and Amy L. Sayward


Understanding and Teaching Native American History
Edited by Kristofer Ray and Brady DeSanti

Understanding and Teaching Religion in US History: cover depicting a close up photograph of wooden benches, like you might find in a house of religious worship. The title text is contained within a blue box at the top of the page.

Larger images

June 2024
LC: 2023040964
344 pp. 6 x 9
4 b/w illus.

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Cloth $34.95 A
ISBN 9780299346300
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