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Organized in 1887 by religious, financial, and social leaders in Manhattan, the Church Club of New York holds a library of some 1,500 volumes. It documents the religious roots and theological framework of New York’s financial elite, the birth of the Episcopal Church, and mainline American Protestantism’s reaction to the Social Gospel movement in the early 20th century. This essay discusses how titles illustrate the challenges these gentlemen confronted to their roles and their church’s identity in a rapidly changing society. Industrialization, modernization, immigration were all affecting their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. It also reflects on how the collection as a whole mirrors the evolution of one sector of 20th century American culture.
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