Nontraditional American Religions Collection

The Andover-Harvard Theological Library has acquired an important microfilm collection on the study of alternative religious movements and practices in the United States and Canada.

Spanning nearly 600 titles over 133 microfilm reels, the American Religions Collection, Series 1: Nontraditional American Religions, Western Esotericism from Witchcraft to the New Age, covers Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Magick, New Age, and occult groups. The subset of the collection concerning Wicca, Neo-Paganism, and Magick is considered "the most comprehensive in the U.S. and includes many complete or almost complete runs of rare serials not available in any other library."

Of importance to scholars using this collection is how "unofficial" much of the material is, deriving in large part from small alternative religious organizations that sought to differentiate themselves from major creeds and provide Americans with a set of counter traditional beliefs.

Western Esotericism is an umbrella term for these families of religious groups. Wicca and Neo-Paganism emphasize religious experience and goddess worship. Magick groups have their roots in a pre-Christian tradition and are characterized by ritual and secret ancient wisdom. New Age is a revival of post-Spiritualist groups that came of age in the 1970s, with current emphasis on the occult.

The American Religions Collection is one of the largest collections of material on alternative religious movements and practices in the world, and offers thousands of hard-to-find serial titles relating to twentieth century nontraditional religions and splinter groups of larger religious bodies in North America. The collection was built by J. Gordon Melton, the foremost scholar of nontraditional American religions in America, who donated it to the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The collection can be found in the Microforms and Media Room, located on the second floor of the library, filed under the call numbers Mflm. Period. 7500-7555. A comprehensive printed guide to this collection is also available in the Microforms and Media Room.

To browse the list of titles in the HOLLIS Catalog, do a series search for "American Religions Collection" to find the two parts of the collection. Part 1 covers witchcraft, Paganism, and Magick. Part 2 covers New Age.