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The Conversion of Phebe Bartlet

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TitleThe Conversion of Phebe Bartlet
Time Period1700-1750
CreatorJonathan Edwards
Description & NotesEighteenth-century conversion narratives about children are of particular interest as they mark a change in the vision of childhood. Whereas first generation ministers like Thomas Hooker had felt that even children of ten or twelve years were not yet rational enough to understand "the mysteries of life and salvation" (Brekus 302, 313 quotes Hooker's The Unbelievers Preparing for Christ [1638]), Enlightenment ideology encouraged Americans to think of children in a more hopeful light. Even children as young as four were believed possible of receiving saving Grace. The conversion of children provided hope to New Englanders in the midst of the apocalyptic fervor of the Great Awakening. The conversion of Phebe Bartlet as transcribed by Jonathan Edwards is perhaps the most famous of this genre. These narratives provided the natural conclusion to the daily recitation of the Catechism. These stories are often mediated not only by the author, but by adult family members. As such, they provide a good record of the idealized child as seen through the eyes of the community.
Geographic LocationNorthampton [Massachusetts]
Subject KeywordsConversion Narrative
Children's Conversion Narratives
Children Education
Edwards, Jonathan
Great Awakening
Bartlet, Phebe
Island Christianity
Ethnic GroupAnglo American
Religious AffiliationProtestant - Puritan
Protestant - Congregationalist
Artifact TypeConversion Narrative [Documents Text]
Basic TypeText
Digital SourceInternet Christian Library
Digital Source URL
Original SourceJonathan Edwards, A narrative of surprising conversions: The distinguishing marks of a work of the spirit of God; An account of the revival of religion in Northampton, 1740-2
Copyright HolderPublic Domain
[Reed Digital Collection]Indian Converts Collection
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PublisherReed College