Collections’ Highlights

Collection ID



Bible - Printed Book




United States




Printed on Paper


6.1 × 3.8 × 2.4 in. (15.6 × 9.7 × 6.2 cm)

Exhibit Location

On View in The Impact of the Bible, Bible in America

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 1798 by Prudence Butcher, unknown owner.[1] Acquired by David C. Lachman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Acquired in the early 2000s 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.[2]

Notes: [1] Prudence Butcher’s signature is present on both front free endpaper, which also notes the date 1798, and the title page. No further information about the identity of this woman can be found at this time. [2] A search submitted to Art Loss Register did not match any items currently in their database (November 13, 2017; Ref: S00129772).

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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