Sarah Osborn's World - Brekus, Catherine A - Yale University Press


Series Information
New Directions in Narrative History

Sarah Osborn's World

The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America

  • Catherine A. Brekus
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Winner of the 2013 Aldersgate Prize given by John Wesley Honors College, Indiana Wesleyan University.

Won an Honorable Mention for the 2013 New England Book Festival given by the JM Northern Media Family of Festivals, in the General Non-Fiction Category.

Received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE), in the Theology & Religious Studies category.

Winner of the 2015 Outler Prize sponsored by the American Society for Chruch History.

In 1743, sitting quietly with pen in hand, Sarah Osborn pondered how to tell the story of her life, how to make sense of both her spiritual awakening and the sudden destitution of her family. Remarkably, the memoir she created that year survives today, as do more than two thousand additional pages she composed over the following three decades. Sarah Osborn's World is the first book to mine this remarkable woman’s prolific personal and spiritual record. Catherine Brekus recovers the largely forgotten story of Sarah Osborn's life as one of the most charismatic female religious leaders of her time, while also connecting her captivating story to the rising evangelical movement in eighteenth-century America.

A schoolteacher in Rhode Island, a wife, and a mother, Sarah Osborn led a remarkable revival in the 1760s that brought hundreds of people, including many slaves, to her house each week. Her extensive written record—encompassing issues ranging from the desire to be "born again" to a suspicion of capitalism—provides a unique vantage point from which to view the emergence of evangelicalism. Brekus sets Sarah Osborn's experience in the context of her revivalist era and expands our understanding of the birth of the evangelical movement—a movement that transformed Protestantism in the decades before the American Revolution.

Catherine A. Brekus teaches American religious history at the University of Chicago. She is the author or editor of several books on the history of women and religion, including Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, and is editing a volume of Sarah Osborn's diaries forthcoming from Yale University Press. She lives in Kenilworth, IL.