Institute for the Study of American Religion
(ISAR)
Educational research organization formed to further research
and the study of the numerous small religious bodies
and psychicoccult organizations formed in America during the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It existed in Evanston, Illinois,
for many years before moving to Santa Barbara, California,
in 1985. At the time of the move the institute donated its
library of more than 40,000 volumes to the Davidson Library
at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where
it now exists as the American Religions Collection. The institute
continues to support and build the collection. The American
Religions Collection houses more than volumes in addition
to research files, magazines, and ephemeral literature. Among
its unique materials is the Elmer T. Clark Memorial set of volumes
used by him in writing his classic work The Small Sects in
America (Abingdon, 1949). The collection is open to the public
for research through the special collections department of the
university.
Above and beyond building a research library, ISAR has
worked at creating reference books and other scholarly tools
for the study of new religious movements, especially occult,
magic, and Eastern groups. With the relocation of the library
to the university, the research and publication program took
center stage. In cooperation with the Gale Group and Garland
Publishing Company, the institute has been responsible for
producing almost 200 separate publications during the 25
years of its existence. With the help of the Institute of World
Spirituality, the institute began the International Relgions of
World Spirituality Project in 1996.
ISAR’s director is J. Gordon Melton, who also serves as a research
specialist with the Department of Religious Studies at
UCSB. He has written and edited a number of the institute’s
publications. The institute also sponsors periodic conferences.
Address P.O. Box 90709, Santa Barbara, CA 93190-0709.
Website httpwww.americanreligion.org.
Sources
Institute for the Study of American Religion. http
www.americanreligion.org. March 8, 2000.
Melton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedia of American Religions. 6th ed.
Detroit Gale Research, 1999.
———. Religious Leaders of America. 2nd ed. Detroit Gale
Research, 1999.
Melton, J. Gordon, Jerome Clark, and Aidan Kelly. New Age
Encyclopedia. Detroit Gale Research, 1990.
Murphy, Larry J., Gordon Melton, and Gary L. Ward, eds.
Encyclopedia of African American Religion. New York Garland
Publishing, 1993.