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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is providing scholars of early America with a new tool for researching religious thought in the South.

Southern Sermons Before 1800Southern Manuscript Sermons before 1800: A Bibliography, edited by UT Knoxville English professor Michael Lofaro, is now available in both book and database form. Newfound Press, the online publishing house of UT Libraries, has published the bibliography as a book, available at for online viewing or for print-on-demand. UT Libraries also features a searchable database of the bibliography among its digital collections, available at

Southern Manuscript Sermons before 1800 is the first guide to the study of the manuscript sermon literature of the southern colonies/states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The bibliography contains entries for more than 1,600 sermons by more than a hundred ministers affiliated with eight denominations.

Richard Beale Davis began the bibliography in 1946 as part of his research for Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763, which won the National Book Award in history. Lofaro, a Lindsay Young Professor of American studies and American literature at UT Knoxville, took over the project in 1976, expanded the colonial entries (pre-1764), and added the period of 1764-1799.

Both the book and database contain in-depth descriptions of the sermons, more than 90 percent of which were previously unknown. The database provides multiple avenues of access: searches can be constructed and filtered according to author, repository, book of the Bible, date, state, denomination, keyword, and short title.

Lofaro says that scholars can employ both versions of this tool to construct a more complete picture of the southern mind before 1800 and to reveal how that mind contributes to a national ethos.

“The bibliography will aid many disciplines—religion, cultural and American studies, history, literature, political science, sociology, and psychology, among others,” Lofaro said, “and all those who wish to interpret the past and its effect upon the present.”

The bibliography should lead to a more balanced appraisal of American intellectual history by encouraging access to a large body of southern sermons to place alongside those of the northern and middle states for critical assessment, Lofaro said.

UT Libraries’ Newfound Press publishes peer-reviewed content that merits wide dissemination but is unlikely to be published by a traditional press because of narrow focus or innovative format. Newfound Press titles are freely available online at Print editions of most Newfound Press titles are available from the University of Tennessee Press at

Read more about Southern Manuscript Sermons before 1800 on the Quest Book Page,


Michael Lofaro, UT Department of English (865-974-4928,

Martha Rudolph, UT Libraries (865-974-4273,

Charles Primm, UT Media and Internal Relations (865-974-5180,