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Overview

The American Sunday school--both as a movement and an institution--had far-reaching effects on the development of our nation's social, cultural, and religious values. For example, the American Sunday School Union (ASSU) provided the materials and training by which many frontier adults and children learned to read while promoting the establishment of Sunday schools throughout the nation.

The American Sunday School Union Papers provides an historical archive documenting the key leaders, projects, strategies, and attitudes that characterized the Sunday School movement of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Founded in Philadelphia in May of 1817, the Union began as a coalition of local Protestant Sunday school groups. The Union's goals were to promote the establishment of Sunday schools and to provide local communities with libraries and materials for religious instruction. From the beginning, this was a non-denominational organization that set aside differences in doctrine to teach the masses the "cardinal truths of Christianity."

This 500,000-page microfilm collection features:

  • correspondence
  • reports from the network of ASSU missionaries on the social, economic, cultural, and political conditions of the expanding United States
  • administrative records documenting the Union's internal struggles
  • the complete run of the Youth's Penny Gazette (1843-1860), the most important juvenile periodical published by the Union

Through these papers, researchers and students of religion, education, history, and American studies can study the effects of the ASSU on American religious and cultural ideals.

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