James Bratt

James Bratt


  • B.A., History, Calvin College
  • Ph.D., specialties in American intellectual and religious history and the history of immigration, Yale University


Prof. Bratt enjoys reading and writing at the cottage that he and his wife own near Lake Michigan. He regularly volunteers in local political campaigns and has served several terms on the council of his local church. Since retiring from Calvin two years ago he taught a year at Xiamen University in China on a Fulbright grant and for fall semester 2017 on the Semester at Sea, which rounded the world from Hamburg to San Diego via eleven ports of call. He enjoys visiting his children who currently live in Dallas, Philadelphia, Berkeley, and Vancouver. He fights the aging process by working out (cross-training and yoga) and thinks heaven will be a lot like the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Read Jim Bratt's posts on Historical Horizons, the history department blog. He also blogs regularly at The Twelve: Reformed Done Daily.

He finished the research for this work on a Fulbright grant to the Netherlands in 2010. He also served Calvin College as director of the first-year DCM (Developing a Christian Mind) program. 

Upcoming events

Academic interests

Prof. Bratt's principal teaching areas include U.S. intellectual and religious history, particularly in the 19th century, and the history of colonial America. Interim courses include the history of the American Revolution and, more recently, Film Noir in American Culture, which he co-teaches with Prof. William Romanowski of Calvin’s CAS department. They team taught a new course in spring 2013, using Hollywood films as windows into American history from Kennedy to Reagan.

Prof. Bratt's research interests on the U.S. side: changes in religion in the middle of the 19th century, exploring why the “Second Great Awakening” ebbed out and what replaced it on the religious scene.

And in comparative history, Prof. Bratt is working on a biography of Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), a Dutch religious and political leader whose life and thought are particularly relevant to current questions about church-state relations and the role of religious viewpoints in cultural affairs.


  • Forthcoming (Eerdmans, 2019). A Christian and a Democrat: A Religious Biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt. With John F. Woolverton. 
  • Co-editor with Edouard Dommen. Calvin Rediscovered: The Impact of His Social and Economic Thought. Westminster/John Knox Press, 2007.
  • Antirevivalism in Antebellum America: A Collection of Religious Voices. [Primary-source anthology] Rutgers University Press, 2006.
  • Editor. Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998.
  • Dutch Calvinism in Modern America: A History of a Conservative Subculture. Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1984.

Articles and book chapters

  • “English, Dutch, & Swedish Protestantism in the Era of Exploration and Early Colonization.” Cambridge History of Religions in America, vol. 1. 2012.
  • “Rites of the Tribes: Two Protestant Congregations in a 20th-Century City.” In By the Vision of Another World: Worship in American History. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. 
  • "Confessional Theologies in Nineteenth-Century America.” In The Nineteenth Century Theologians, edited by Colin Gunton and Christoph Schwoebel. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • "Sphere Sovereignty among Abraham Kuyper's Other Political Theories." The Kuyper Review. Princeton Theological Seminary 2009.
  • "Abraham Kuyper’s Calvinism: Society, Economics, and Empire in the Late Nineteenth Century.” In Calvin Rediscovered: The Impact of His Social and Economic Thought, edited by Edouard Dommen and James Bratt. Westminster/John Knox Press, 2007.
  • "Religious Anti-revivalism in Antebellum America.” Journal of the Early Republic 24:1 (online) (Spring 2004): 65-106. Awarded the Ralph D. Gray Article Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 21 July 2005.

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