Tainted Money, Sanctified Wealth: The Business of Mission Movement
Fundraising, 1865-1929

Libson, Scott

My dissertation examines the critical role of foreign missionary societies in the formation of global philanthropies in the early twentieth century. Bringing together the histories of missions, capitalism, and imperialism, my project investigates mission movement fundraising, an omnipresent yet understudied topic in missions history. Missionary societies shaped American religious values to include gifts for foreign societies and asked American Protestants to consider the role of American wealth in the world. The ways Americans responded helped define the global philanthropic and economic reach of the United States in the early twentieth century. The Columbia University Libraries Research Award allowed me to examine numerous collections that have become central to this project. For many years, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary has housed the Missionary Research Library, which John Mott established in 1914 in association with the Foreign Missionary Conference of North America. Mott was a leader in efforts to coordinate and systematize missions work across denominations. The Missionary Research Library aggregated as much data as possible in order to make missions more efficient and fact-driven. With the help of a 2011 Henry Luce Foundation grant,
Burke Library’s Brigette Kamsler has processed many collections in the Missionary Research Library for the first time. For my research, therefore, the Missionary Research Library was a repository for highly relevant documents that had just been made far more accessible as well as, in its founding, a product of the developments that my dissertation describes.



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