Ames, Edward Scribner, 1870-1958

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Edward Scribner Ames was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on April 21, 1890. He was the son of a Disciples of Christ Minister, and became a minister himself after his graduation from Drake College (A.G., 1889, A.M., 1891). Ames received his B.D. from Yale in 1892, and accepted a doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago in 1894. Ames studied under James Hayden Tufts, and in 1895 he became the first person to receive a Ph. D. from the University's newly formed philosophy department. He spent the next two years as an instructor at Disciples Divinity House (1895-1897) and also served as docent in the University of Chicago's philosophy department. In 1897, Ames took a teaching position at Butler College in Indiana. He returned to Chicago in 1900 to become the pastor of the University Church of the Disciples of Christ and served in that capacity for the next forty years. Also in 1900 Ames resumed teaching in the philosophy department at the University of Chicago where he remained for thirty-five years, serving as its chairman from 1931 to 1935.

Ames was the youngest member of the "Chicago School" of pragmatism which also included James Hayden Tufts, Addison Moore, George Herbert Mead and John Dewey. Ames's primary interest was the philosophy of religion. In 1905 he introduced a course in the psychology of religion, a subject formerly taught only in theological schools. His books, The Psychology of Religious Experience (1910), and Religion (1929), were essentially the same views later expressed by John Dewey in A Common Faith (1934). Ames was a charter member of the Campbell Institute, a voluntary organization of the Disciples of Christ, designed to promote spiritual life and an interest in religious ideas and work. From 1925 to 1951 he served as the editor of The Scroll, the monthly bulletin of the Campbell Institute. Ames died on June 29, 1958.

From the description of Edward Scribner Ames papers, 1870-1958. (Southern Illinois University). WorldCat record id: 187097122

Edward Scribner Ames was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on April 21, 1870. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and then attended Yale University Divinity School. He received the Yale B.D. in 1892 and continued to study philosophy there for two more years. Transferring to the University of Chicago for a fellowship during 1894-1895, he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1895, awarded by professors John Dewey and James Tufts. Ames first taught at Butler College, Indianapolis, for three years but soon returned to accept a philosophy position at Chicago in 1900, which he held until his retirement in 1936.

Ames’s focus was in psychology and sociology of religion. His father had been a Disciples of Christ minister in a series of Midwestern towns. Ames went on to publish several influential studies of religious experience and values, along with doctrinal studies relating to the Disciples of Christ. Influenced by his colleagues, he joined their Chicago School of Pragmatism and advanced a pragmatic understanding of God and doctrine, similar in many respects to Dewey’s religious humanism.

Ames was active in the life of Chicago; he joined the City Club and served on reform committees. Ames maintained his devotion to the Disciples of Christ and was in close association with other leading figures of the movement. He was one of the founding members, with other graduates of Yale and Chicago, of the Campbell Institute in Chicago in 1896. Ames edited The Scroll, the quarterly journal of the Campbell Institute, from 1925 to 1951. He was the minister of the Hyde Park Christian Church (renamed the University Church of Disciples of Christ) in Chicago from 1900 to 1940. He also served as the Dean of the Disciples Divinity House in Chicago from 1927 to 1945. Ames’s distinctively liberal and humanistic approach to both theology and ministerial leadership brought him into repeated conflicts with more conservative elements of the denomination. Among the specific doctrinal questions for which Ames is remembered is the humanity of Jesus, the denial of an afterlife, the diminished role of baptism, and open membership.

Ames died in Chicago on 29 June 1958 and his ashes were spread behind the family cottage on Lake Michigan in Pentwater, Michigan.

From the guide to the Ames, Edward Scribner. Papers, 1893-1958, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library
referencedIn King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. Letter : Atlanta, to Polly Scribner Ames, Chicago, 1960 Apr. 4. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Philosophy photographs. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
referencedIn Yeaton, Ethel Kitch, 1884-1941. Ethel Kitch Yeaton collection on Edward Scribner Ames and James Hayden Tufts, 1911-1914. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
creatorOf Ames, Edward Scribner, 1870-1958. Papers, 1893-1958 (inclusive). University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company. Houghton Mifflin Company reader reports on manuscripts submitted for publication. 1882-1931. Houghton Library
creatorOf Ames, Edward Scribner. Papers, 1893-1958 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Ames, Edward Scribner, 1870-1958. Edward Scribner Ames papers, 1870-1958. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
referencedIn Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966. William Ernest Hocking Papers, 1860-1979 Houghton Library
referencedIn Taylor, Henry C. (Henry Charles), 1873-1969. Henry C. Taylor papers, 1896-1968. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Ames, Polly Scribner. Papers, 1938-1993 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. Letter : Atlanta, to Polly Scribner Ames, Chicago, 1960 Apr. 4. Texas Christian University
creatorOf McCasland, S. Vernon (Selby Vernon), 1896-1970. Papers of S. Vernon McCasland, 1938-1970. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Lindsay-Wakefield family papers, 1879-1982. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ames, Polly Scribner, 1908- person
correspondedWith Burtt, Edwin A. (Edwin Arthur), 1892-1989 person
correspondedWith Dewey, John, 1859-1952 person
associatedWith Disciples of Christ corporateBody
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. person
correspondedWith Lindsay family. family
associatedWith Lindsay, Vachel, 1879-1931. person
associatedWith McCasland, S. Vernon (Selby Vernon), 1896-1970. person
correspondedWith Mead, George Herbert, 1863-1931 person
correspondedWith Murphy, Arthur Edward, 1901-1962 person
associatedWith Taylor, Henry C. (Henry Charles), 1873-1969. person
correspondedWith Tufts, James Hayden, 1862-1942 person
associatedWith University of Chicago. Department of Philosophy corporateBody
associatedWith University of Chicago. Dept. of Philosophy corporateBody
associatedWith University of Chicago. Disciples Divinity House corporateBody
associatedWith Yeaton, Ethel Kitch, 1884-1941. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Humanism--History--20th century
Theology
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Birth 1870

Death 1958

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