Lincoln A. Mullen

I am a historian of American religious history and nineteenth-century United States history, often working with computational and spatial methods. I am an assistant professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, where I teach digital history, American religious history, and the nineteenth-century United States. I am also affiliated faculty at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. This website lists most of the scholarship that I can make available, including some work in progress; for a full list, see my CV. I also write on my own blog and the Religion in American History group blog.

cover of The Chance of Salvation

The Chance of Salvation: A History of Conversion in America

Harvard University Press, 2017

The United States has a long history of religious pluralism, yet Americans have often thought that people's faith determines their eternal salvation. The result is that Americans switch religions more often than any other nation. The Chance of Salvation traces the history of the distinctively American idea that religion is a matter of individual choice.

As nineteenth-century Americans confronted a growing array of religious options, pressures to convert altered the basis of American religion. Evangelical Protestants emphasized conversion as a personal choice, while Protestant missionaries brought Christianity to Native American nations such as the Cherokee. African Americans created a distinctive form of conversion based on ideas of divine justice and redemption. Mormons proselytized for a new tradition that stressed individual free will. American Jews resisted evangelism while winning converts to Judaism. Converts to Catholicism opted out of the system of religious choice by turning to Church authority. By the early twentieth century, religion in the United States was a system of competing options that created an obligation for more and more Americans to choose their own faith. Religion had changed from an inherited to a consciously chosen identity.

Harvard University Press | | Google Books

America’s Public Bible: Biblical Quotations in U.S. Newspapers

Stanford University Press, in progress

America’s Public Bible that explores how American newspapers from nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used the Bible. Using the techniques of machine learning, it identifies biblical quotations and allusions in millions of newspaper papers from the Library of Congress's Chronicling America collection and other newspaper archives. The initial version of the site, which won the 2016 NEH Chronicling America Data Challenge, is available online. A much expanded version of the site is in progress, and it will be published as a digital monograph by Stanford University Press.

America’s Public Bible website

Mapping Early American Elections

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, in progress

Mapping Early American Elections is a project at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media created in collaboration with Sheila Brennan, Rosemarie Zagarri, Jordan Bratt, and Ken Albers. Using the election returns gathered by the New Nation Votes project, we are creating data, maps, and visualizations of congressional and state legislative elections from 1787 to 1825. The project is funded by the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mapping Early American Elections website | GitHub repositories

Computational Historical Thinking: With Applications in R

Computational Historical Thinking is a textbook that teaches you how to identify sources and frame historical questions then answer them through computational methods. These historical methods include exploratory data analysis, mapping, text analysis, and network analysis. These methods are taught using the R programming language, commonly used by digital historians and digital humanists. Chapters on individual methods ground you in particular approaches, and chapters on case studies of historical research walk you through the process of asking and answering computational history questions. This work in progress is available online while it is being written.

Book website

Publications and projects

Kellen R. Funk and Lincoln A. Mullen, "The Spine of American Law: Digital Text Analysis and U.S. Legal Practice," American Historical Review 123, no. 1 (accepted for publication February 2018). SSRN preprint, SocArXiv preprint

Ben Marwick, Carl Boettiger, and Lincoln Mullen, "Packaging Data Analytical Work Reproducibly Using R (and Friends)," The American Statistician (forthcoming). DOI: 10.1080/00031305.2017.1375986. PeerJ preprint, publisher page

“A Braided Narrative for Digital History,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2018, ed. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming 2018).

“Bibles and Tracts in Print Culture in America,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (Oxford University Press, September 2017). DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.412. Web

Lincoln A. Mullen, Margaret Bendroth, Thomas Kidd, Keith Harper, and Robert W. Prichard, “The Uses of Denominational History,” Fides et Historia 49, no. 2 (forthcoming fall 2017). SocArXiv preprint

Kellen Funk and Lincoln A. Mullen, “A Servile Copy: Text Reuse and Medium Data in American Civil Procedure,” in Forum: Die geisteswissenschaftliche Perspektive: Welche Forschungsergebnisse lassen Digital Humanities erwarten? [Forum: With the Eyes of a Humanities Scholar: What Results Can We Expect from Digital Humanities?], 24 Rechtsgeschichte [Legal History] (2016): 341–43. DOI: 10.12946/rg24/341-343. published version

Kellen R. Funk and Lincoln A. Mullen, “The Migration of the Field Code,” working paper, February 2016. working paper

Cameron Blevins and Lincoln A. Mullen, “Jane, John . . . Leslie? A Historical Method for Algorithmic Gender Prediction,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9, no. 3 (2015). published version

“Lynching, Visualization, and Visibility,” Journal of Southern Religion 17 (2015). published version

“The Contours of Conversion to Catholicism in the Nineteenth Century,” U.S. Catholic Historian 32, no. 2 (2014): 1–27. DOI: 10.1353/cht.2014.0007. published version, Project Muse

“Using Metadata and Maps to Teach the History of Religion,” Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy, 25, no. 1 (2014): 112–118. post-print

“The Varieties of Religious Conversion: The Origins of Religious Choice in the United States,” PhD thesis, Brandeis University (2014). ProQuest

“Digital Humanities Is a Spectrum; or, We’re All Digital Humanists Now,” in Melissa Terras, Edward Vanhoutte, and Julianne Nyhan, eds., Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader (Ashgate, 2013), 237–38. preprint

“A Narrative of the Troubles in the Second Church in Windsor, 1735–1741,” by Roger Wolcott, Journal of Jonathan Edwards Studies 2, no. 2 (2012): 83–142. published version

R packages

“tokenizers: A Consistent Interface to Tokenize Natural Language Text.” R package. 2016–. GitHub

“textreuse: Detect Text Reuse and Document Similarity.” R package. 2015–. GitHub

“gender: Predict Gender from Names Using Historical Data.” R package. 2014–. GitHub

“internetarchive: An R client to the Internet Archive API.” R package. 2015–. GitHub

“USAboundaries: Historical and Contemporary Boundaries of the United States of America.” R package. 2015–. GitHub

“historydata: Datasets for Historians.” R package. 2014–. GitHub


Spring 2018 Clio 2: Computational History
Spring 2017 Clio 2: Data and Visualization in Digital History
Spring 2017 Global History of Christianity (with Mack Holt and John Turner)
Spring 2017 The Digital Past: Reconstruction and Redemption
Summer 2016 R, Interactive Graphics, and Data Visualization, Digital Humanities Summer Institute (with Jason Heppler)
Fall 2016 Text Analysis for Historians
Spring 2016 Data and Visualization in Digital History
Spring 2015 Religion and Capitalism in the United States
Spring 2015 The Digital Past
Fall 2014 Church and State in America
Fall 2014 Clio 3: Programming in History/New Media
Spring 2014 Mapping Boston’s Religions
Fall 2012 Religious Pluralism and the American States


Gender Predictor (2016).

Paul E. Putz and Lincoln A. Mullen, Bibliography of Urban American Religious History (2015).

Spatial Humanities Workshop (2015).

Divergence in U.S. Sex Ratios by County, 1820–2010 (2014).

Historical Boundaries of the United States, 1783–1912 (2014).

The Spread of U.S. Slavery, 1790–1860 (2014).

Paulist Missions, 1851–1906 (2014).

Lincoln A. Mullen and Erin Bartram, American Converts Database (2013–2014).