This thesis contends that youth from age twelve to twenty-five played a pivotal role in the revivals of the Second Great Awakening in New York and New England. Rather than merely being passive onlookers in these religious renewals, the youth were active participants, influencing the frequency, spread, and intensity of the Christian revivals. Relying heavily upon personal accounts written by youth and revival records from various denominations, this work examines adolescent religious experiences during the first half of the nineteenth century. Chapter 1 explores the impact parents had on youth religiosity, showing how the teaching and examples they saw in their homes built the religious foundation for young people. The next chapter discusses how the youth continued to build upon what they were taught in their homes by seeking for personal conversion experiences. This chapter contends that conversion experiences were the crucial spiritual turning point in the lives of young people, and explores how they were prepared for and reacted to these experiences. Chapter 3 outlines personal worship among the youth and describes the specific tactics that churches implemented in helping convert and strengthen the young. As churches used revival meetings and clergy-youth relationships to fortify these converts, young people implemented the same practices in helping their peers. Finally, chapter 4 utilizes revival records and Methodist church data to provide quantitative evidence of the widespread and crucial role that young people had in influencing revivals. Understanding the widespread impact of these youth on nineteenth-century revivals provides new insight into the ways in which young people impacted the greater social, religious, and culture changes sweeping across America at the time.



College and Department

Religious Education; Church History and Doctrine



Date Submitted


Document Type





Second Great Awakening, revivals, revivalism, youth, spirituality, conversion narrative, devotional life, evangelical churches