19th Century Themes of Death in Sunday School Books

In this exhibit, we explore how death functions throughout the nineteenth-century in both religious and secular literature. By combing through our dataset, we were able to identify numerous ways in which death works as a predominant theme throughout the teachings of nineteenth-century Sunday Schools. By exhibiting the four most common themes from our dataset, we are able to gain a clearer understanding of how death worked in the nineteenth-century, while also distinguishing the nature of the relationship between the religious and secular perspectives toward death in that time period.

The themes exhibited include:

Death functioning as a tragedy that educates the reader about morality and the Christian God, death as a vehicle for turning a dying character into an authority figure that imparts advice from their deathbed, death coming as a comfort to dying Christians who hope for heaven and redemption, and the gravity and overall importance of death that does not need be feared by those who love God. By examining these four themes, we hope to show that, while intimidating, the themes of death in nineteenth-century Sunday school books ultimately strive to answer difficult questions on the unknown through the values and morals of Christianity.



Kaitlin Rustemeyer, Kellyanne Fitzgerald, Shannon Rogers