Critical edition and scholarly exploration of letters and journals 1740-1820

Based at the Francke Foundations is a 6-year research project, funded by the German Research Foundation, titled “Halle pastors, German settlers and Lutheran congregations in North America. Critical edition and scholarly exploration of letters and official journals 1740-1820.” A cooperative consisting of Prof. Dr. Mark Häberlein, Chair of Modern History at the University of Bamberg, Prof. Dr. em. Hermann Wellenreuther, Department of Medieval and Modern History at the University of Göttingen, and Dr. Thomas Müller-Bahlke, Director of the Francke Foundations, supervises this project.

Starting from the observation that the study of the history of the Lutheran church in North America during the decades before and after the founding of the United States has thus far been focused on the journals and correspondence of Henry Melchior Mühlenberg (1711-87), this project aims at transcribing and editing all preserved official letters and journals written by Muhlenberg’s colleagues, that is, all Lutheran pastors dispatched from Halle to Pennsylvania between 1745 and 1786. This substantial expansion of the source basis allows fundamental new insights into the development and dissemination of Lutheran congregations in the mid-Atlantic region (Pennsylvania and neighbouring colonies or federal states), the function and importance of parishes for German immigrants, the position of the Lutheran church in a multi-confessional region, the history of Pietism in the Atlantic world and the reciprocal perceptions of German Protestants in the New and the Old World.

The project has two main objectives: (1) to prepare a critical edition of hitherto unpublished and relatively neglected correspondence and journals of Lutheran pastors in the Archive of the Francke Foundations in Halle (Saale) and the Archive of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (USA), and (2) to study the relationships between the pastors whom August Hermann Francke’s (1663-1727) Glaucha institutions sent to the German settlers in the North American colonies and the United States as well as the development of Lutheran churches in the mid-Atlantic region, applying these newly edited sources as a basis.

The six-volume edition will be published successively from 2020 onwards.

Project members:
Markus Berger (01.10.2013-30.09.2016), Jan-Hendrik Evers (01.10.2013-30.09.2016), Katharina Prager (01.11.2014-31.10.2016), Nikolaus Schröder (01.11.2014-31.01.2017), Lara Grünberg (from 01.03.2017 on)
Project Duration: 1 November 2013 – 31 October 2019