Sunday, January 31, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Protestant Migrations

In my never ending quest to find the next great book to read, I came across this book on Amazon, Wandering Souls: Protestant Migrations in America 1630-1865 by S. Scott Rohrer, . This book is also available from other online booksellers.

Amazon's description of the book states, "Popular literature and frontier studies stress that Americans moved west to farm or to seek a new beginning. Scott Rohrer argues that Protestant migrants in early America relocated in search of salvation, Christian community, reform, or all three."

"In Wandering Souls, Rohrer examines the migration patterns of eight religious groups and finds that Protestant migrations consisted of two basic types. The most common type involved migrations motivated by religion, economics, and family, in which Puritans, Methodists, Moravians, and others headed to the frontier as individuals in search of religious and social fulfillment. The other type involved groups wanting to escape persecution (such as the Mormons) or to establish communities where they could practice their faith in peace (such as the Inspirationists). Rohrer concludes that the two migration types shared certain traits, despite the great variety of religious beliefs and experiences, and that "secular" values infused the behavior of nearly all Protestant migrants."

I imagine, or maybe it's me, that when we think of religious migration across the United States, we think of the Mormons.  But there are other religious groups that migrated.  This can be helpful in genealogical research because it allows you to not only better understand your ancestor's religion but to undersand the localities they may have ended up in.

For those with Moravian ancestors, Rohrer's book, Hope's Promise: Religion and Acculturation in the Southern Backcountry, available in snippet view from Google Books ,  might be of interest.

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