Disciples historian bicycles through England

During the middle years of the twentieth century, W. E. Garrison was one of the preeminent church historians in the United States. Although his books covered a broad range of historical topics, he was especially interested in American Christianity and in the distinctive history of his own church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

During Garrison’s years as a graduate student in Chicago, in the 1890s, the modern “safety” bicycle with pneumatic tires was developed and became a new mode of personal transportation for enterprising people like Garrison. In 1898, following the completion of his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, Garrison spent two months bicycling through Britain and the following summer two months bicycling through central Europe. In 1900, his father’s publishing company published Garrison’s book describing these two excursion.

I know of only four locations where this book can be viewed. One of them is the Disciples of Christ Historical Society in Nashville, Tennessee, where the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is now in session. Earlier this year, I posted four chapters from this delightful travel narrative. You can find these postings in the February 2011 archives of this blog.

Garrison’s first chapter was written on board ship as he traveled to Liverpool. It gives his thoughts about why bicycling is such a fine way for people to travel through an interesting country. To read his first chapter, click About Bicycle Touring.

Although he was only 24 years old when he made this trip, Garrison was a remarkably well read man, showing extensive knowledge of English history and literature. This intellectual interest shows through clearly as he describes his journey. His writing gives no attention to the sweat and hard work that dominates so many modern cycling narratives. Rather, Garrison gives fascinating insights into the places and people whom he meets. I have also  scanned and posted three additional chapters, which you can access by clicking on these two links: Into the Heart of EnglandShakespeare’s England; The East Side of England.

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One Response to Disciples historian bicycles through England

  1. Carol Crawford-Mirassou says:

    Dear Keith-
    W.E. Garrison is my Great grand-father, and I knew nothing about his bicycle rides, nor his photography. My uncle sent us all the link while looking for something on the Clairmont School for Boys that G-grandfather had founded. Since my cousin Neil Crawford, just finished a 100 mile bicycle ride, my uncle Kendall Crawford sent us all this link. Do you happen to know if I could find his book anywhere? I had a couple of his books, but knew nothing about this part of his life.
    W.E.Garrison, had a daugher, Elizabeth Garrison (my grandmother) who married Neil Crawford, and they had three kids of which one is my father, James Garrision Crawford.
    I did not know that my G-grandfather was a photographer, as am I.
    Thanks for any info you can share with me.
    Sincerely,
    Carol Crawford- Mirassou

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