Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Sarah H. Meacham


This thesis examines revivalism and reform movements in rural areas of western New York. The bulk of literature on this region in the Second Great Awakening concentrates on middle class, urban people. This thesis argues that revivalism and evangelical fervor was carried to rural portions of the region by migrants from western New England. Evangelical Christianity and revivalism provided emotion succor for rural people grappling with negative social conditions, such as isolation, poverty, crop failure and alcoholism, in the New York frontier. Religious adherence became especially important for women, who were more isolated than men. Religious adherence and revivalism allowed rural evangelicals an opportunity to "purify" society from sinful behavior. Revivalism waned as social conditions improved in rural areas, but the tradition of societal "purification" remained. In this way, rural evangelicals, as well as Quakers and Spiritualists, engaged in moral reform, to eradicate institutions and behaviors they perceived as sinful from society.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

History Commons