Mapping the Great Awakening


Students in this class investigated the Great Awakening through may different sources, and, as with any historical investigation, the selection of those sources defines our study.  Seven groups investigated the Great Awakening through seven different source bases.  Two groups were interested in leading transatlantic intellectual figures, one on George Whitefield, the other in a comparison of Methodist pioneer John Wesley and anti-revivalist Charles Chauncy.  Other groups were intrigued by the experiences of white women, of Native Americans, and of Phillis Wheatley during the era of revivals.  Students traced the influence of Theodorus Freylinghuysen, a German-born Dutch Reformed revivalist who worked in New Jersey’s Rarity Valley; and the experiences of Anglican missionary and diarist Charles Woodmason in South Carolina.  Finally, a group explored the Great Awakening through the 1791-94 publication of the Baptist Annual Register, a document that sought to unite Baptists across the transatlantic world.  This StoryMap will give you an introduction to some of the aspects of this history.

Each group developed a shared map to display its results.  Groups made choices about how to organize their information into layers and how to explain their shared subjects.  Each student also created an individual “StoryMap,” explaining one particular aspect of the whole.

As a class, we also looked at all of the data we collected from the perspective of the few aspects that went across all of them, specifically date, denomination, sex, and what we called “type,” a mix of race and national origin.

You can explore an overview of our data here.

Taken together, our Great Awakening skews later in time than is traditional.  That’s an important insight, however.  Although the revivals are often associated with the period from 1735-1750, many of the events and figures we associate with the movement for Awakening worked for many decades after that.  Use this map to see how our data points unfolded over time.  Another interesting insight has to do with gender.  Although we initially had the perception that women moved far less than men did, that conclusion might be deceptive.  An examination of the diaries of Hannah Heaton and Sarah Osborn shows that these women moved widely in their regions.  Though they traveled less than some famous itinerants, such as George Whitefield, does not mean that they stayed only at home.


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