The prolific and competitive publishing of Bibles in the 19th century America led to the printing of larger and more extravagant Bibles which became more than just the Scriptures, but religious and artistic objects, full of additional features beyond the text of the Bible. Thus, the concept of the large family Bible evolved which was given an important place in the home and was filled with family records and memories. Publishers catered to this growing market by producing ever-larger and more elaborate Bibles. These Bibles would include explanatory articles, Bible dictionaries, extensive lithographs and color illustrations, Bible stories for children, pages for recording family births and deaths, and all enclosed in ornamental and sometimes highly sculpted covers with metal clasps. Often the name of the family was engraved on the cover of the family Bible. These bindings, illustrations, and expanded visual content helped create Bibles that were purchased for reasons other than for the words of Scripture they contained. The more elaborate large family Bibles increasingly became tools to mark the level of the social status of a family, rather than simply as an appropriate format to protect the content of the Bible's words. Many families today have in their possession one or more of these heirloom Bibles from generations past because they represent part of the heritage and recorded history of the family.
Millen Family Bible, 1871 - This Centennial Library copy of a family Bible belonged to the Millen family and was printed in Hartford, Connecticut in 1871. The family's name is engraved on the cover.
Davidson and Millen Family Bible, 1871 - This Centennial Library copy of a family Bible belonged to the Davidson and Millen families and was printed in Philadelphia in 1871. A number of the names of family members are recorded in the family births and deaths section located between the two Testaments.
Steinberger Family Bible, 1879 - This Centennial Library copy of a family Bible belonged to the Steinberger family and was printed in 1879. The covers are sculptured and the content of the Bible includes over 2500 illustrations.
Family Bible, 1892 - This Centennial Library copy of a family Bible was printed in Chicago in 1892. The covers are sculptured and include metal clasps to keep them closed. Dispersed within the text of the Bible are a number of full page color lithographs depicting biblical events.
Biblical Heritage Gallery, Cedarville University, Family Bibles