060: Thomas S. Kidd, 35


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

60: Thomas S. Kidd, 7-16-07

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, Baylor University
Area of Research: Eighteenth-century North America, particularly the history of evangelicalism
Education: Ph.D. in History, The University of Notre Dame, August 2001
Major Publications: Kidd is the author of The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism (Yale University Press, 2004), his forthcoming book
Thomas S. Kidd JPGwill be published later this year The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, (Yale University Press, 2007) Kidd is also working on The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents, to be published by Bedford Books, and books titled American Christians and Islam (contract with Princeton University Press) and A Christian Sparta: Evangelicals, Deists, and the Creation of the American Republic (contract with Basic Books). He has also published numerous articles in The William and Mary Quarterly, The New England Quarterly, Church History, and Religion and American Culture. He is also the author of several book chapters including the forthcoming “Evangelicalism in New England from Mather to Edwards,” in Kenneth Stewart, ed., Continuities in Evangelical History: Interactions with David Bebbington (InterVarsity Press).
Awards: Kidd is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2006-07 [supports Awakenings: The First Generation of American Evangelical Christianity] Louisville Institute Summer Stipend, 2006;
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Initiative Grant to Network Christian Scholars, 2006-08;
Baylor University Research Committee Grants, 2004-05, 2005-06;
Baylor University Young Investigators Development Program Grant, 2005-06;
Baylor University Summer Stipend, 2005;
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2004;
Baylor Horizons/Lilly research grants, 2003, 2007-08;
Baylor University Graduate Student Association Outstanding Professor Award, 2006;
Voted Baylor University 2004-05 Faculty Member of the Year, Baylor University Student Government;
Invited participant, National Endowment for the Humanities, Chairman’s Forum on Colonial American History, April 2004. Selected for the Young Scholars in American Religion Program, class of 2004-05, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis;
Faculty member of the month, North Russell residence hall, Baylor University, February 2004;
Chosen to represent Baylor University in both the 2003 and 2004 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend competition (one of two faculty members selected);
Graduate Teaching Fellowship, University of Notre Dame (2000-01), with full tuition scholarship, stipend, and adjunct professorship in the History Department and University Writing Program;
Full Tuition Scholarship and Stipend, History Department, University of Notre Dame (1996-2000);
Full Tuition Scholarship and Stipend, History Department, Clemson University (1994-96);
Graduated Cum Laude with Senior Departmental Honors, Political Science Department, Clemson University (May 1994);
Presidential Scholarship, Clemson University (1990-94).
Additional Info:
Formerly Adjunct Professor, Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN (1998), and was an graduate instructor at University of Notre Dame (2001-02).

Personal Anecdote

Generally speaking, I think historians tend to write articles and books that are too cautious. While it remains advisable to do dissertations that are fairly narrow, the habits ingrained in us during graduate school often carry over into our maturing careers. Academic and trade publishers want to do business with people willing to take on big, ambitious subjects.

I came into graduate school wanting to write something about religion in colonial New England, having been smitten by the writings of Perry Miller. I gravitated toward the period after the Glorious Revolution partly due to an interest in the connection between Puritanism and evangelicalism, and partly because historians widely recognized the period from 1690 to 1740 as the chief neglected era in colonial New England studies. But I also came to view the dissertation, which became my first book The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism, as a prelude to a bigger project on the First Great Awakening, which is due out later this year.

Just last week I found myself answering the same question I have answered many times since committing to the Great Awakening book: “what are you going to say new about the First Great Awakening?” I’m not going to give my answer here, but only want to suggest that this type of question may reflect professional nervousness about taking on a seminal historical topic researched by many other writers. One of the advantages of tackling the First Great Awakening, undoubtedly, is that no “standard” book exists on the subject (just hosts of excellent biographies and regional studies). But I have found that bringing a new perspective to the primary sources has not been difficult. If anything, novelty has probably been inevitable.

There are always new sources to mine that other historians have ignored or dismissed. The best of the neglected sources for me is the diary of radical evangelical itinerant Daniel Rogers. This generally legible diary is probably the largest single-author archival source related to the revivals of the early 1740s. I can remember reading it and calling my wife, excitedly laughing as I told her the exotic stories I was finding there. (You can read more about Rogers in the book, or in an article I published on him in the March 2007 issue of The Journal of the Historical Society.)

The other reason that a new approach to this old subject seems inevitable is my unique perspective, shaped by my background and experience of recent history. Could living through 9/11 and the presidency of George W. Bush not color my view of the religious past? It changes the kinds of questions I ask, particularly about religion and politics, and the varied effects that evangelicalism produces in society.

Don’t hesitate to take on history’s classic subjects. Thinking big about future writing projects will make things easier for you professionally, but it will also help us craft a more useable past for our reading publics.


By Thomas S. Kidd

  • “The The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism JPG most interesting question in the first generation of American evangelicalism was what kind of movement it would become. How socially radical would it be? Would it tolerate the dramatic mystical experiences of laypeople? Would it reaffirm traditional boundaries set by race, class, gender, education, and age? Or would it lead to a substantially new egalitarianism for those who embraced the idea of individuals’ equality before God? The struggle over these questions played out chiefly between moderate and radical evangelicals, not between Old Lights and New Lights.” — Thomas S. Kidd in “The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America” (Yale University Press, 2007).(Cover of Professor Kidd’s first book “The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism”)

About Thomas S. Kidd

  • “An informed and much-needed synthesis of the events that comprise the ‘Great Awakening.’ Judiciously describes evangelical efforts from Nova Scotia to Georgia over the entire eighteenth century and demonstrates the centrality of these revivals to an understanding of the American mind. Kidd’s book will become the standard introduction to its subject.” — Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewing “The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America”
  • “There is much to praise in this book. Kidd is a first-rate researcher who has read widely in primary sources. He is also a clear, entertaining writer who is able to create memorable portraits of historical characters.” — Catherine A. Brekus, University of Chicago reviewing “The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America”
  • “Well researched, clearly written and authoritatively argued. There is no book of comparable breadth, either chronologically or geographically.” — Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame reviewing “The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America”
  • “Sound in its scholarship, cogent in its arguments, and creative in its historical reconstruction, this book is a first-rate contribution to both American religious history and the early history of New England.” — Mark Noll, Wheaton College reviewing “The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism “
  • “A valuable contribution to resolving the puzzle over New England’s religious culture after 1689.” — Richard P. Gildrie, American Historical Review reviewing “The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism “
  • “[A] well crafted study, which makes a solid contribution to the literature on Puritanism and its transformation.” — Howard A. Barnes, History: Reviews of New Books reviewing “The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism “
  • “[Kidd’s] arguments are cogent and persuasive, and help to explain a transitional stage in the theological culture in New England.” — Alex Kish, Virginia Quarterly Review reviewing “The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism “
  • “Kidd’s portrait of Yankee evangelicals should keep his book in shops and on college syllabi for many years to come.” — Timothy A. Milford, The Catholic Historical Review reviewing “The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism “
  • “Kidd writes with clarity and develops the narrative with the apt citation of numerous illuminating primary sources. . . . Offers a fresh and compelling case that explains important moments and developments in New England before the Great Awakening. Yale University Press is to be commended for producing such a delightful edition of such an interesting and rewarding text.” — Michael McClenahan, The Journal of Religion reviewing “The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism “
  • “Class was very stimulating, Dr. Kidd is a great guy”… “Really nice guy, interesting lectures”… “”genuinely enthusiastic about Colonial history”…”charismatic and energetic”…”a passion for history which inspires you to learn as much as possible”…”truly concerned that his students learn & care about the material.”… “Personality, availability, knowledge of subject, passion for the subject” — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 7:00 PM

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