Marketing missions: Material culture, theological convictions, and empire in 18th-century christian philanthropy


In the 18th century, Halle Pietists were part of a global missionary network that reached into North America and that anticipated later developments in worldwide evangelical missions; Pietists made critical alliances with other Protestants, they were savvy in their use of media, and they worked alongside different empires in their efforts to reach and convert the world. Recent scholarship on religion and humanitarianism in the United States has focused predominantly on the Anglo-American story and the Post-Revolutionary period. This article argues that the Pietists highlight an earlier—and crucial—colonial era of global missionary connections, philanthropy, media, and empire. Attending to their writings and the images they used reveals important and continuing themes in the study of Christian philanthropy in America, including the significance of theological convictions, financial necessities, political allegiances, and racialized imaginings of potential, “uncivilized” converts. This article looks at the image of ascending eagles from the orphan house in Halle, which the Francke Foundations (earlier the Glauchasche Anstalten) used for their seal on books and medicines, and also considers an engraving of Tomochichi, a leader of Yamasee and Lower Creek descent, who appeared in the first report from the Pietist mission in colonial Georgia. The article argues, finally, that images were used to sell a particular vision of missionary work, albeit one that was not always true to experience on the ground and that appealed to colonialist objectives.


Religious Studies

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© 2018 The author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)


Christianity, Colonial Georgia, Francke Foundations, Images, Medicines, Missions, Native Americans, Philanthropy, Pietists, Printers’ marks

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