Bibliography on the History of Religion in Pennsylvania

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According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania's population was 12.3 million and, of this number, 8,448,193 people were estimated to belong to an organized religion. Information from the religion data archives at Penn State University indicates that religious adherents in Pennsylvania follow 115 different faiths. Major affiliations, including percentage of all adherents, were:

  • Roman Catholic: 3,802,524 (53.43%)
  • Orthodox: 75,354 (1.06%)
  • Mainline Protestant: 2,140,682 (30%)
    • United Methodist Church: 659,350 (9.27%)
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 611,913 (8.60%)
    • Presbyterian Church: 324,714 (4.56%)
    • United Church of Christ: 241,844 (3.40%)
    • American Baptist Churches in the USA: 132,858 (1.87%)
    • Episcopal Church: 116,511 (1.64%)
  • Evangelical Protestant: 704,204 (10%)
    • Assemblies of God: 84,153 (1.18%)
    • Church of the Brethren: 52,684 (0.74%)
    • Mennonite Church USA: 48,215 (0.68%)
    • Christian and Missionary Alliance: 45,926 (0.65%)
    • Southern Baptist Convention: 44,432 (0.62%)
    • Independent Non-charismatic churches: 42,992 (0.60%)
  • Other Theology: 393,584 (5.53%)
    • Jewish estimate: 283,000 (3.98%)(4th largest in the United States) (Could be as high as 350,000)
    • Muslim estimate: 71,190 (1.00%) (Could be as high as 150,000)
    • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 31,032 (0.44%)
    • Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations: 6,778 (0.10%)

Most of these religious groups are represented is this bibliography on the history of religion in Pennsylvania. However, there is a lack of publications on the Muslim and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints faiths. A comprehensive listing of literature dealing with the subject is drawn from books, edited volumes, commissioned works, articles in professional journals such as Pennsylvania History, articles in journals of county historical societies such as the Lancaster County Historical Society, and articles that appear in history magazines such as Pennsylvania Heritage. Not included are articles that might appear in newsletters of historical societies. The bibliography mainly focuses on 20th and 21st century works though there are a few exceptions. It was compiled by reviewing collections at the library of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, State Library in Harrisburg, Penn State University's libraries at University Park and Harrisburg, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Below is a ranking of bibliographic entries by denomination.

  1. Lutheran, Reformed, UCC = 64
  2. Miscellaneous subjects and denominations = 56
  3. Moravian = 47
  4. Presbyterian = 40
  5. Amish, Mennonite, Brethren = 32
  6. Quakers = 31
  7. Catholic = 28
  8. State Historic Sites = 26
  9. Judaism = 25
  10. Baptist = 15
  11. Methodist = 14
  12. Unitarian = 8
  13. Episcopal = 7
  14. Swedenborgian = 4
  15. Huguenot = 2

Not surprisingly, the most represented denominations are those affiliated with German Reformed, Lutheran, and United Church of Christ faiths. Second are miscellaneous articles dealing with various subjects and denominations. Moravian, Presbyterian, Amish, Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Quakers comprise the next largest groups. Catholicism ranks 7th though it is the largest denominational group by number in Pennsylvania (Protestantism ranks as the second largest). Books and articles on the subject of state historic sites - such as Ephrata Cloister - appear as the next most numerous while Judaism ranks 9th. Other groups are ranked accordingly.

Publications mainly deal with the history of denominations, people, and places and often refer to particular events that played key roles in denominational founding and practice. A number of works analyze place in the history of religion. Entries that are related to place are noted by an asterisk*. Examples include A Legacy in Bricks and Mortar: African American Landmarks in Allegheny County by Bolden, Glasco and Brown, Boyer's Stone Valley Church, Bradley's Ephrata Cloister: Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide and Nelson's The Bethlehem Gemeinhaus: A National Historic Landmark. Church architecture is evident as well in several works. And, there are a number of works on state historic sites including Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Trail of History guides on Ephrata Cloister and Old Economy Village. Place descriptions, architecture, analysis of the role of place in worship, and historic preservation of sacred places are subjects discussed by works on place listed in the bibliography.

Other entries analyze particular religious beliefs such as New Understandings of Anabaptism and Pietism by Donald Durnbaugh or works by John Roth that include Beliefs: Mennonite Faith and Practice and Practices: Mennonite Worship and Witnesses. More general works provide a context for the understanding of religion in Pennsylvania such as Miller and Pencak's edited volume Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth and Edwin Bronner's William Penn's Holy Experiment: The Founding of Pennsylvania, 1681-1701.

While many of the works are scholarly, some are more popular such as those published by Arcadia Publishing including, for example, The Jewish Community Around North Broad Street and Oxford Circle by Allen Meyers. Articles in Pennsylvania Heritage magazine are also more popularly written. Others combine scholarly and popular history such The Jews of Wilkes-Barre by Marjorie Levin.

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