Terms for Craig White's Literature Courses

Camp Meetings

(mostly 19th-Century)

Camp Meetings were an American social and religious phenomenon of the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s.

On the expanding western frontier, many pioneer communities lacked established churches or resident pastors.

British evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770) and others developed outdoor religious meetings in order to appeal to common and unchurched people beyond church walls. Widely dispersed frontier families would travel to an announced place and camp for several days, meeting their social as well as religious needs.

Ministers at camp meetings were often itinerant preachers. Unsupported by denominations, such preachers earned support by attracting large crowds. Styles varied. Many preachers stimulated emotional responses, while others preached responsibility and family values. 

The images below show contrasting images of Camp Meetings, some emphasizing their ecstatic emotionalism, others emphasizing order and dignity.

While the 2nd Great Awakening appealed primarily to Scots-Irish settlers in the west, African Americans also participated in camp meetings, as reported by Abolitionist authors including Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe.



Photos & designs for contemporary camp meeting










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