Article

Puritan Historians and Historiography

Naoki Onishi

in The Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195187274
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195187274.013.0005

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Puritan Historians and Historiography

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The present article's major essence happens to be the history of the Puritans and their historiography. By the early seventeenth century a small group of religious separatists moved to Holland and then subsequently to New England to maintain their religious freedom that individuals' lives are governed by providence. Generally, the New England Puritans considered whatever happened to them as manifestations of divine will. Anxious to understand the hidden significance of daily events, they eagerly recorded what was happening to them. Thus, not only the histories they wrote but all kinds of writing—autobiographies, biographies, church histories, diaries, memoirs, poetry—reflect their quest to comprehend the meaning of whatever they encountered. In their quest to understand God's ways, seventeenth-century New England Puritans tried to see Providence in virtually everything, including natural phenomena both ordinary and extraordinary: birth defects, comets, earthquakes, eclipses, famine, hurricanes, or pestilence. A discussion on third generation puritans comes at the end of the article.

Keywords: Puritan historians; historiography; religious separatist; memoirs; poetry; New England Puritans

Article.  9765 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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