Type of entity
Authorized form of name
Spaulding, John Gordon
Parallel form(s) of name
Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules
Other form(s) of name
Identifiers for corporate bodies
Dates of existence
John Gordon Spaulding earned a B.A. at Pomona College, California, and a Ph.D. from California, Berkeley. After teaching at Stockton Junior College in California, he joined the UBC Department of English in 1946, where he remained on faculty until his retirement in 1972. His areas of scholarly interest included the history of literary criticism, Romantic poetry and prose, semantics, and the relationships between literary criticism and philosophy, science, and psychology.
While researching at the British Museum in 1961, Spaulding used The Preacher's Assistant, a catalogue of sermons presented and published in Great Britain, Ireland, and the American colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, compiled by the Rev. John Cooke and published in 1783. Spaulding saw the possibility of gaining new insights into the political, social, and literary history of the period covered by the catalogue by correlating the entries in the first volume (the sermons) with the entries in the second volume (the authors), using then-new computer technology. By 1966 he had both volumes encoded on punch cards and then spent the next 25 years correlating the two sets of records. An early print-out version was deposited at the Huntington Library in California in 1988. In six volumes, the final version was published in 1996, shortly after Spaulding's death, as Pulpit Publications 1660-1782. As he wrote in the preface:
"By translating the data from Cooke's two volumes into six volumes, it lays out the data in ways that make them accessible for purposes that Cooke did not have in mind. His catalogue of sermons is herein transformed from an Assistant to Preachers into an Assistant for Historians who wish to search out the vital relations between religion and literature, philosophy, science and politics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or, more generally, are making bibliographical, philological and economic studies concerning the period. The usefulness of the sermon catalogue in historical studies is enhanced by the fact that the data within the catalogue come close to being exhaustive in regard to certain aspects of the period and, in the form presented within the present edition, make some novel statistical studies quite possible."