Digitizing the Census of Religious Bodies

Zhangyang Xie




Professor of Sociology

Project Summary

The purpose of this project is to create an archive of American religious groups’ views on social issues between 1918-1965. Topics covered include: segregation, World War II, the Cold War, civil rights, feminism, the Vietnam War, global missions, race, eugenics and the population explosion. During the summer, I have focused on various religious groups’ views on Hitler and the American racial hierarchy. I categorized the surveyed denominations into four groups: sympathizers with Hitler, Distant from Hitler, Ambivalent about Hitler, and Critics of Hitler.

I requested articles from denominational periodicals in the form of PDFs through the Inter-Library Loan service and transcribed and coded them for further analysis. I gained experience of gathering, organizing, and analyzing tremendous amount of qualitative data thanks to the project.

Working for Professor Melissa Wilde from the College’s Sociology Department has been a delightful experience that prepares me for a career in sociological research. Not only did I learn the specific methods of conducting research, but also research ethics and researchers’ responsibilities.

My experience as a research assistant stimulated my interest in religious studies and galvanized me into contemplating with interdisciplinary perspectives. Unfortunately, COVID-19 competed me to work entirely remotely, and, to my regret, I haven’t met Professor Wilde and other lovely cohorts I had the privilege to work with this summer in person. I am grateful for PURM’s objective to establish a long term mentorship between students and faculties, and I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces this fall!