In general, I refer to the American Board missions and stations by the names used at the time, while I modernize the spelling of place names. Occasionally, this may cause some confusion, as, for example, with the Madura Mission in Madurai, India, or the Aintab Station in Gaziantep, Turkey. I made a few exceptions to the general rule. I refer to the Ahmadnagar Mission, though that is not how it was generally spelled, because the A. B. C. F. M. was not consistent in the way they did spell it. I also use Constantinople and Smyrna for Istanbul and Izmir, respectively, because the older names convey a distinct identity for those cities in the mid—nineteenth century.
Missionaries commonly referred to non-Christians as “heathens. ” I did not feel that I could dispense with the word entirely without losing some sense of the missionaries' worldview, but I consistently put it in quotation marks to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the demeaning connotations of the term. I treat the words civilization and civilizing in the same way to avoid giving the impression that I regard American society as superior to other nations. I have not felt the same scruples about the use of the word native, though some might find it demeaning as well. To them, I can only offer my assurances that such was never my intent or inference.
I began work on the history of Protestant foreign missions as a graduate student in the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan. I