Historical Timeline: American Bible Society (text)

A 200-year History of Innovative Bible Outreach

* Click here for visual timeline.

1816 – 1900

  • Elected American Bible Society's first president, Elias Boudinot, former president of the Continental Congress
  • Distributed the Society's first Bibles (300) to the Steuben County Bible Society in Bath, N.Y.
  • Launched a grant program to distribute Bibles to U.S. Military—a program that continues today—by distributing Bibles to the crew of the U.S.S. John Adam
  • Provided Bibles to the U.S. military during the Civil War—North and South
  • Distributed Bibles to soldiers who fought in the Mexican War
  • Completed the Society's first Bible translation, a Lenape translation for Native American groups in the mid-Atlantic area of the United States
  • Elected John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, president of ABS
  • Developed first Bible for the visually impaired


1900 – 1950

  • Distributed Bibles to troops serving in World War I
  • Sent an exhibit of Bibles to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco
  • Created an exhibit for the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago highlighting the parts of the globe where portions of the Bible have been translated and distributed
  • Supplied a King James Bible to be included in the Westinghouse Time Capsule at the 1939 – 1940 New York World's Fair
  • Provided more than 7.4 million copies of Bible literature to troops during World War II
  • Established the Department of Visual Aids to produce stereopticon slides, motion pictures and filmstrips, radio and television broadcasting, exhibits and displays


1950 – 1975

  • Published the Illustrated New Testament with more than 500 images and maps
  • Started the Bible-a-Month Club®, where members pledge as little at $4 a month to provide Bibles to people around the world
  • Designed the Good News for a New Age exhibit for the 1964 – 1965 New York World's Fair
  • Provided a Revised Standard Version Bible to be included in the time capsule at the New York World's Fair
  • Produced and released the New Testament in Today's English Version—now called the Good News Translation—which is written in common English
  • Published Dios Llega, a Spanish Bible translation
  • Began the Good News for New Readers program, which supplies booklets of Bible passages throughout the world in more than 350 languages to people learning to read. The booklets are used in schools, literacy classes, Sunday schools and for individual tutoring


1975 – 2000

  • Produced and released the complete Good News Bible translation
  • Released Dios Habla Hoy, the full Bible in the Spanish Popular Version translation
  • Provided more than 4 million Bibles to the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles
  • Contributed more than $1 million for Amity Foundation to establish a printing plant in Nanjing to produce the first Chinese Bibles
  • Secured Bibles for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe through a "Gifts of Love" appeal
  • Introduced The Life of Christ in the American Sign Language Translation
  • Published the Contemporary English Version (CEV) New Testament
  • Provided 300,000 compact Bibles to the U.S. military serving in the Persian Gulf
  • Contributed a four-year, $23.5 million commitment to help fund the publication, printing and distribution of Scripture in the former Soviet Union
  • Published the Contemporary English Version (CEV) Old Testament
  • Distributed Bible resources at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta
  • Disseminated 5,000 copies of Bible literature to black churches in the South that were victims of racially motivated arson attacks
  • Published the African American Jubilee Bible
  • Launched ForMinistry.com, a service that provided websites at no cost to churches and ministries to encourage them to lend their voice on the internet 


2000 – 2014

  • Published the Contemporary English Version (CEV) Learning Bible
  • Launched Bibles.com to provide missional and hard-to-acquire Bibles to churches and ministries  
  • Distributed more than 1 million copies of Bible literature to those affected by Sept. 11
  • Developed and produced pocket-size military Bibles with the help of Catholic and Protestant chaplains from all branches of the U.S. armed forces
  • Established BibleResourceCenter.org as a hub for devotional, learning and biblical resources 
  • Partnered with Bible societies in Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka to distribute Bible resources to those affected by the 2004 tsunami
  • Sent 1 million Bibles to those affected by Hurricane Katrina
  • Partnered with Habitat for Humanity to give Bibles to new homeowners in the United States
  • Commemorated American Bible Society's 190th anniversary by hosting a Bible Read-a-Thon. During the event, which lasted six days, the entire Bible was read in 26 different languages
  • Launched an awareness program, La Biblia es Mi Guía (The Bible is My Guide), to promote Bible reading among Spanish-speakers
  • Collaborated with several Bible societies to launch a website that allows consumers across the world to receive the Bible on their mobile phone
  • Released, A Fuego Con La Palabra (On Fire with the Word), featuring original songs from top Christian reggaetón artists in conjunction with the Latino Christian music label CanZion Group
  • Launched e100 and Share Your Story Now programs to encourage Bible engagement via a myriad of channels
  • Hosted the Digital Word summit that culminated in the launching of Every Tribe Every Nation 
  • Published the Poverty & Justice Bible, which highlights more than 2,000 verses that refer to poverty and justice. It reveals that God has much concern for the poor, marginalized and oppressed
  • Announced, along with the Museum of Biblical Art, a multi-year loan of the holdings of the Rare Bible Collection to the Museum of Biblical Art in 2010 
  • Introduced Bible Minded app as a way to encourage the memorization of Scripture through fun games and review modes (to make it easier to start) along with personalized review schedules to assist in retaining memorized verses over time 
  • Published the Freedom Bible highlighting more than 3,500 verses that refer to various aspects of freedom, including from fear, from suffering, from loss, from anger, from guilt and more
  • Introduced JourneyMaker, a service to help pastors and church leaders encourage their communities to increase daily Bible engagement by emailing, texting or using a mobile app to send devotionals, sermon notes and reading plans
  • Signed contract with ICANN to manage the new .BIBLE top-level internet domain


2015 – 2016

  • American Bible Society relocates its headquarters to Philadelphia in the heart of the historic district
  • Hosts international gathering of Bible ministry leaders from around the world for the 2016 World Assembly
  • Celebrates its bicentennial anniversary