Cover image for New historical atlas of religion in America
New historical atlas of religion in America
Gaustad, Edwin S. (Edwin Scott)
Physical Description:
xxxiii, 435 pages : illustrations (chiefly color)' 34 cm 1 map (foldout)
General Note:
Map in pocket: "Denominational predominance: 1990".

Rev. ed. of: Historical atlas of religion in America / Edwin Scott Gaustad. c1976.
Format :



Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G1201.E4 E3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

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In two editions over 40 years, Edwin Gaustad's Atlas of American Religion has been an essential guide to the American religious experience. Now the New Historical Atlas of Religion in America takes the story into the new millennium. Expanded, reorganized, and now in full color, the new edition of this classic reference work is an arresting visual and narrative portrait of the growth, development, and diversity of America's communities of faith across nearly 400 years. Here is a vastly more complex American religious life--from the decline of mainstream Protestantism to the emergence of evangelical churches and the growing influence of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and other faiths. Parts One and Two are a history--in maps and text--of American religions. Part Threefocuses in-depth on Lutherans, Mormons, and Roman Catholics. Part Four examines the political, cultural, and social aspects of religion in American public life. Lavishly illustrated with full-color maps, charts, and diagrams, the new Atlas is an essential resource for all readers--students, teachers, scholars, and everyone seeking to understand the remarkable religious history of the United States.

Author Notes

Edwin Scott Gaustad is at University of California, Riverside. Philip L. Barlow is at Hanover College, Indiana.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

"Anyone hoping to comprehend religion in its historical context ignores geography at some peril." So begin the editors in their preface to a new and expanded edition of the Historical Atlas of Religion in America, first published in 1976. The landscape of religion in America has changed much in the intervening quarter century, the growth of non-Western religious traditions and the decline of denominational loyalty among many Protestants being two examples. This revised atlas shows in maps and other illustrations where these changes have taken place over time. The atlas is divided into four parts, the first two constituting the revision of the earlier edition. Part 1 covers institutional and ethnic religions to 1800, where part 2 picks up the story and continues through to the present. Each part is subdivided into sections treating Christian denominations, Judaism, Native American religions, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, and others. The atlas clearly strives to provide a historical and comprehensive view of the pluralism of religion in America. Color maps, graphs, and other illustrations accompany brief histories of these specific religious groups. For example, the treatment of Episcopalians in part 2 includes a graph of growth and decline in church membership from 1800 to 1996 as well as maps showing the number of Episcopal churches by county in 1850, 1890, 1950, and 1990. Whenever possible, similar maps are provided for other groups, allowing for, say, a comparison of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians over the same period. Sections end with supplemental bibliographies. Parts 3 and 4 are new to this edition. Part 3 presents case studies of three groups--Lutherans, Mormons, and Roman Catholics--in which a more detailed cartographic examination is provided. Part 4 is a less-than-successful hodgepodge of information, including a brief look at Canada, a list of religious place-names in the U.S., and the denominational composition of three recent U.S. Congresses. The "Conclusion" section of the atlas is wonderful, offering maps of denominational predominance in the U.S. by county from 1790 to 1990 as well as pie charts for each state that give 1890 and 1990 percentages of denominational affiliation. Then comes an assortment of appendixes, such as a table showing the number of churches by denomination in 1890 and maps of each state with county names. Finally, the atlas concludes with a detailed index. New Historical Atlas of Religion in America contains as much text as it does maps. This is a good thing, as it can easily serve as an encyclopedia of sorts of American religious history. A more thorough treatment can be found in the Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience (Scribner, 1988). Those interested in more detailed statistics on churches and church membership should consult the many publications of the Glenmary Research Center. This reference work contains a wealth of textual, cartographic, and bibliographic information. As such, it should not be lost in an atlas case. Recommended for academic and large public library collections.

Publisher's Weekly Review

The "new" in the title of this gorgeous, informative atlas suggests the book's position as its own successor; in 1962, church historian Gaustad released the meticulously researched Historical Atlas of Religion in America, which has served ever since as the best resource of its kind. This significantly revised version (whose statistical base takes readers at least up to 1990, and sometimes as late as 1998) delights not only in its 260 full-color maps and 200 graphs, tables and charts, but also in the mellifluous text co-written by Gaustad and Barlow, a theology professor at Hanover College. Each religious group receives extensive treatment, with heightened emphasis on religious newcomers such as Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims; the sections on Native American and African-American religious traditions have also been significantly expanded. The authors note that a picture is worth a thousand words only "sometimes," and take painstaking care to ensure that the maps and charts contained herein illustrate the complexities of religious change over time. Thus alongside a graph showing a meteoric rise in the numbers of Baha'is in America since 1970, the authors point to other charts demonstrating the numeric decline of traditional religions in the same period and postulate that "people often look to alternative religious expressions when more traditional options are languishing." Special maps elucidate denominational predominance be region, the religious affiliations of members of Congress and the proliferation of religious place names, among many other considerations. This eminently useful, visually stunning atlas speaks eloquently of America's history of religious faith. (Jan.) Forecast: This book was one of the most talked-about forthcoming titles at last month's American Academy of Religion annual meeting in Nashville. It will enjoy significant sales in the library market, of course, but also has potential among individual scholars and clergy, to whom Oxford has been offering a discounted promotional price. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

How do you improve upon a classic? This book, which gave scholars a visualization of religions in America as they spread, clustered, shrank, and calcified in certain geographical areas, was a wondrous new tool when it first appeared in 1976--owing partly to the novel representation of information that had previously been relegated to narrative. The strength of the new edition lies primarily in advanced technology: the maps detailing the locations of various religious communities are brighter and clearer because of digitization. In terms of content, however, much was already said in the first incarnation. Details have been added on the decline of the mainstream Protestant denominations, the rise of the Pentacostals and Evangelical Christians, and the modest influence of Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, but these are small additions that--while excellent for remaining up-to-date--do not necessarily justify purchasing a costly new volume. Libraries with the previous edition (now out of print) should purchase only if the older edition has received considerable usage. Otherwise, this revised edition is strongly recommended and can be considered indispensable for theological and academic libraries.-Glenn Masuchika, Rockwell Collins Information Ctr., Cedar Rapids, IA. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Since the most recent version of this work, great changes have swept the US religious landscape, bringing many advances in scholarship and cultural cartography and production. Historical Atlas of Religion in America (1962; rev., CH, Oct'77, less than 200 pages) consisted of black-and-white maps, charts, and graphs. Gaustad (religious studies, Univ. of California, Riverside) and Barlow (theological studies, Hanover College) with many others have produced a stunning new work double the size of earlier editions, with more information and greater aesthetic appeal. The atlas presents nearly 270 maps (240 in color and most full page) that depict denominational status and growth, Colonial times to 1990, and provide coverage down to the county level from the early 19th century onward, usually by 20-year periods, showing believers and congregations, offering numerous color graphs, charts, diagrams, and tables, each segment opening with a succinct, illuminating essay that interprets the maps and other figures. The first two parts treat 1650-1800 and post-1800; the second includes coverage of Native American, African American, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious bodies. Part 3 provides detailed case studies of Lutherans, Mormons, and Roman Catholics. Part 4, "Broader Perspectives," includes Canada, composition of selective congresses, educational institutions, and other miscellaneous topics. A conclusion presents comparative data on denominational predominance, 1790-1990, as well as second- and third-place denominational distribution by county, and includes pie charts of religious distribution by state. A bibliographic essay lists sources of data and of maps and graphics. Problems are few: inattention to the transdenominational evangelical movement since the mid-20th century; nuances of color used in some maps are too detailed; different scales are used. Bret E. Carroll's The Routledge Historical Atlas of Religion in America (CH, Oct'01) is cheaper, more compact, and aimed at a more popular audience, but cannot challenge Oxford, definitive for scholarship, organization, and map production. Essential for libraries that take religion in the US seriously. D. G. Davis Jr. University of Texas at Austin