Skip to main content

American Bible Society


AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY was organized in 1816 by Elias Boudinot, who also served as its first president, to distribute the Bible through a nondenominational and nonprofit vehicle. In its first year, forty-three state, county, regional, and local Bible societies already in existence associated with the American Bible Society. As auxiliary organizations, these local groups helped to publish and distribute the Scriptures in English and other European languages, as well as in American Indian languages. The American Bible Society was part of a growing evangelical press, which blanketed the expanding nation with printings of the Bible, denominational newspapers, and religious tracts throughout the nineteenth century.

The program's emphasis gradually shifted from national to worldwide distribution. The American Bible Society has drawn upon scholarly expertise to translate the Bible (in its entirety or in part) into over 1,500 languages, representing over 97 percent of the world's population. To meet the challenge of presenting the biblical message

to new generations unfamiliar with traditional expressions, translators also prepare new popular-language biblical translations. New production techniques enabled the American Bible Society to reproduce the Scriptures on records, cassettes, and compact discs, as well as in braille. In the early 2000s the American Bible Society cooperated with the United Bible Societies in a global coordination of Scripture translation, production, and distribution on every continent.

The society's headquarters is in New York City, with regional offices in Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. This interconfessional organization is governed by its own elected officers, managers, and committees, and is supported by churches and individual donors.


Gutjahr, Paul C. An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States, 1777–1880. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Wosh, Peter J. Spreading the Word: The Bible Business in Nineteenth-Century America. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994.


See alsoMissionary Societies, Home ; Missions, Foreign ; Religious Thought and Writings .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"American Bible Society." Dictionary of American History. . 20 Jan. 2019 <>.

"American Bible Society." Dictionary of American History. . (January 20, 2019).

"American Bible Society." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved January 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.