More About “The Golden Texts”

24 Jan

Last week Karen—a long-time reader of this blog—asked a question about the “Golden Texts” mentioned in many of Isabella Alden’s stories, including Gertrude’s Diary and The Exact Truth.

Karen asked:

Where can I get one of these booklets that have these Golden Verses in them? Were they distributed in Sunday Schools as part of the materials?

The Golden Texts were a very popular teaching method used by Sunday-schools and missionary societies in the late 1800s.

In those days, almost every major Christian denomination—especially Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian—operated a publishing house as one of its departments.

They produced Golden Text lessons in the form of pamphlets and trading cards, which were styled and written for the most part to appeal to children, aged toddlers to teens.

The tradecard-style lesson below is No. 3 in a series about the Golden Texts found in the Book of Matthew. The card was produced by the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church, and was intended to be used by Sunday-school teachers as a lesson help.

You can see the subscription rate to purchase cards on the reverse side:

Card No. 5 in the series features another Golden Text from the Book of Matthew:

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Here’s an example of a Golden Text lesson card the American Baptists produced for their churches and ministries:

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Not all the lessons were printed by churches. The publishing company of Ward & Drummond produced Golden Text lessons in pamphlet form for many years.

This Ward & Drummond pamphlet is bound with a paper boards and feature lovely artwork. The pamphlet measures just 2-3/4” by 4-1/4” so it could be tucked into a boy’s pocket or a girl’s purse.

The back cover displays Ward & Drummond’s contact information:

Some good news: This particular Ward & Drummond pamphlet is for sale on ebay! You can click here to see the listing.

Like Ward & Drummond, Cincinnati publishers Walden & Stowe specialized in publishing religious materials, like this 1881 “Picture Lesson Paper”:

It was printed on paper and bound by thread stitches on the spine. It features a Golden Text from Luke 1:46-47:

My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

You can click on the image to see a PDF of the entire four-page leaflet.

Walden & Stowe published many Christian leaflets, including Sunday-school tracts written by Reverend Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, who helped direct the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.

Examples of Golden Text teaching aids—in both leaflet and postcard styles—often come up for sale on sites like ebay and Etsy, so it pays to check back often with both sites.

4 Responses to “More About “The Golden Texts””

  1. Karen January 24, 2018 at 10:33 am #

    Thank you!! I’m so grateful you dogged down the info on these and yes, I put in a bid on Ebay for that booklet. I seriously doubt the same levels of dedication to the truth and importance of God’s word is observed by the majority of the mainline denominations these days…in fact, I know it’s true as most of the ruling councils of the more liberal denominations have toned down most references to Scripture. The level of Biblical literacy today is woeful compared to that of our Victorian brethren. Again, thank you! Love, Karen

    • Isabella Alden January 24, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

      In addition to having a lovely cover, that particular pamphlet seemed to have quite a bit of information about Christ, his teachings, and his life; it’s the kind of pamphlet you can spend hours studying with your open Bible. Good luck with the auction, Karen!

  2. Ryana Lynn Miller January 25, 2018 at 7:35 am #

    We should still do this today! Such a dear old tradition! We have many of Isabella Alden’s Golden Text books and love them so much. Each person would choose a verse then we would see who picked the verse used in the story. Love them so much!

    • Isabella Alden January 26, 2018 at 6:59 am #

      What a great idea, Ryana! Isabella’s Golden Text stories are among my favorites, too. —Jenny

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Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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