The Christian Recorder, the official organ of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was established as the Christian Herald in 1848. It was renamed the Christian Recorder in 1852. During the nineteenth century, several AME clergymen served as editors of the weekly journal: Augustus R. Green (1848–1852); Molliston Madison Clark (1852–1854); Jabez Pitts Campbell (1854–1858); Elisha Weaver (1861–1867); Benjamin Tanner (1868–1884); Benjamin F. Lee (1885–1892); H. T. Johnson (1893–1902).
As an AME periodical, the Christian Recorder focused primarily on church matters and moral and religious topics in its early years. But as a voice for African Americans, it served a broader audience and addressed a wider range of community concerns. During the Civil War, the Recorder served as a communications link between black communities and their soldiers in the field. A weekly "Information Wanted" column helped reunite families torn apart by slavery, war, and economic distress. During Reconstruction, reports from AME clergymen working in southern missions provided information on the condition of the freedpeople.
Correspondence from black communities across the continent created a composite picture of American race relations in the decades following the Civil War. The Christian Recorder, as the oldest surviving publication of the black periodical press, provides a valuable historical record of African-American life and culture.
Williams, Gilbert Anthony. The Christian Recorder: Newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church : History of a Forum for Ideas, 1854–1902. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1996.
Wright, Richard R., Jr. Encyclopedia of African Methodism, 2nd ed. Philadelphia, 1948.
michael f. hembree (1996)