The Book of Life

Family Bibles in America

The King James Bible found its way into many households in the English-speaking world long before the phrase Family Bible was coined by a London publisher in 1735. An essential part of the Protestant home, the family’s Bible was the center of its spiritual life and a repository of its history. A standard model for the Family Bible emerged in the early nineteenth century including an encyclopedic component, various sets of illustrations, and preprinted pages to record the most important events in the family’s life. This exhibition explores the development of Family Bibles in America from their first appearance in the 1790s to the end of the nineteenth century, demonstrating how such volumes were, in addition to sacred texts, the receptacles of family lineage and history.

Exhibition and preservation of the Rare Bible Collection @ MOBIA are made possible, in part, by the generous support of the American Bible Society.