Collection ID



Bible - Printed Book




United States




Printed on Paper


6.3 × 3.6 × 2.7 in. (15.9 × 9.2 × 6.9 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

The Aitken Bible, published by Robert Aitken (1735–1802), was the first Bible printed in English in North America. Aitken was born in Scotland and immigrated to Philadelphia in 1769, where he worked as a bookseller and publisher. In 1781, near the end of the American Revolution, he petitioned congress to support his plans to print a Bible in English. The British government had long regulated the publication of English Bibles, forcing colonists to import them from Britain or Europe. The war subsequently created a shortage in the colonies. Congress endorsed Aitken’s Bible when it was completed in 1782. Today, the Aitken Bible is known by many as “the Bible of the Revolution.”

Printed in 1782 by Robert Aitken, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Acquired by 1894 by Rachel Thurston, unknown owner; Gifted in 1894 to the First Presbyterian Church, Schenectady, New York.[1] Acquired by William Reese Company, New Haven, Connecticut;[2] Purchased in 2001 by Ken Leininger, Denver, Pennsylvania; Purchased in 2001 by Gene Albert (Christian Heritage Museum), Hagerstown, Maryland; Privately purchased in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2012 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] The bookplate for the pastor’s library of the First Presbyterian Church of Schenectady is present on the front pastedown. Rachel Thurston’s name, and the date of February 1894, are handwritten on the bookplate under the heading, “Presented by”. No further information about the identity of this woman can be found at this time. [2] Ken Leininger, the book’s subsequent owner, provided the name of the seller and the date of acquisition. He also provided the date of sale to Gene Albert. (Email from Leininger to MOTB, March 13, 2019).

Select References:

Daniel L. Dreisbach, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

John Wright, Early Bibles of America (London: Gay & Bird, 1893).

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