History 4485

History of American Religion Since 1865

Study Guide for the Midterm Exam (October 5)


You will need to purchase a bluebook for this exam.  The university bookstore sells bluebooks in two sizes; both sizes are acceptable for this test. 


The exam will consist entirely of IDs and essay questions.  There will be no multiple choice questions, so you will not need a Scantron sheet.  No notes, books, or other study resources will be allowed during the exam.


The questions on the midterm exam will be selected from the following items.  If you prepare and memorize answers for all of the IDs and make sample outlines for four of the essay questions, you will be well prepared for the exam.


Six of the following IDs will appear on the exam, and you will be expected to choose four of them to identify.  Identifications should consist of at least three sentences (or four or five bullet points) that identify the subject and state its historical significance.  You should also give an approximate date for each term that you identify.  For the date, you may state a decade (e.g., 1880s), or you may give an exact year, which will be counted as correct if it is within a five-year margin of error.  When identifying people, you may either give their dates of birth and death or you may identify the decade in which they were most influential (e.g., Bruce Barton, 1920s).  In discussing a person’s achievement’s, concentrate on the religious themes that pertain to this course.  (E.g., in identifying William Jennings Bryan, focus on the Scopes trial and his anti-evolution campaign, not his presidential platform of 1896 or his achievements as secretary of state).    The historical significance is a very important part of the ID, so make sure that you understand the historical context and long-term significance of each ID term.  When you identify a term, relate it to broader themes in the course.  Each ID term will be worth up to 10 points on the exam. 


An excellent sample ID might look like this: “Bruce Barton: Author of The Man Nobody Knows, 1925.  Barton, an advertising executive, wrote a version of Jesus’s life that portrayed Christ as a secular figure who could serve as a guide to success for aspiring business leaders.  His best-selling book promoted the modernist theology of Harry Emerson Fosdick on the popular level, and signified the extent to which the liberal Protestantism of the day had accommodated itself to the secular trends of the 1920s.”



ID Terms:


African Methodist Episcopal Church

Anti-polygamy Campaign

Azusa Street Revival

Henry Ward Beecher

Conservative Judaism

Father Charles Coughlin

Fanny Crosby

Father Divine

Katharine Drexel

Harry Emerson Fosdick

Charles Fuller

Fundamentalist Movement

James Cardinal Gibbons

Charles M. “Daddy” Grace

Ku Klux Klan

Aimee Semple McPherson

Dwight L. Moody

John R. Mott

Nation of Islam

Reinhold Niebuhr

Pierce v. Society of Sisters

Premillennial Dispensationalism

Walter Rauschenbusch

Al Smith


Billy Sunday

Isaac Mayer Wise

Women’s Christian Temperance Union

Young Men’s Christian Association



Essay Questions (60 points):


TWO of the following essay questions will appear on the exam.  You will be required to answer ONE of those two questions, so you should try to fill at least three bluebook pages with the answer to your question.  Your essay should be well organized and should cite specific historical examples (e.g., you should mention specific people, events, etc.) in addition to discussing broader historical trends.


1.      From the 1870s through the 1930s, most African Americans and immigrants (including second and third-generation immigrants) worshiped in churches, synagogues, or mosques that few white Anglo-Saxon Americans would have been willing to attend.  What effect did these religious institutions have on the position of immigrants and African Americans in American society?  Trace some of the major trends in immigrant and African American religion from 1870 to the 1930s, and analyze whether these religious institutions kept immigrants and African Americans culturally segregated from American society or whether they helped them to function in the white Protestant American culture.


2.      Charles Sheldon’s novel, In His Steps, revolves around the question, “What would Jesus do?”  Imagine that Walter Rauschenbusch, William Jennings Bryan, William J. Seymour, and Harry Emerson Fosdick (or Bruce Barton) had a conversation about the WWJD question.  What would each of them envision Jesus doing if Christ were living in American society sometime between 1885 and 1925?


3.      From the 1870s through the 1920s, America’s Protestants were concerned about threats to the country’s religious establishment from secularism, Catholicism, and Mormonism.  How did Protestant churches try to maintain their control of the national religious culture in the face of each of these competing trends or religious movements?  To what extent were they successful in maintaining a Protestant cultural hegemony during this period?


4.      In the early twentieth century, two distinctly different groups of Protestants – fundamentalists and Pentecostals / holiness groups - reacted against the modernist trend in Protestant churches.  Compare and contrast the ways in which fundamentalists and Pentecostals reacted to the secular culture and liberal theology from 1900 through the 1930s.


5.      Most Christian churches excluded women from the pulpit in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but women took a leading role in the anti-polygamy movement, the Social Gospel, and Pentecostalism.  What might Protestant women’s activities in these religious movements tell us about their view of gender roles, the proper functioning of society, and the function of religion?  In what ways did the role of Catholic nuns (e.g., Katharine Drexel) and female secular reformers (e.g., Jane Addams) parallel or contrast with the experiences of religiously active Protestant women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?