I first started collecting material for this book slightly over fifteen years ago. Since then I have been diverted into writing various other books and papers, but this project was always partly in my mind. During this time I have often thought that the one necessary quality in a social historian is persistence. Of the many and varied places my research has taken me to, perhaps the most unfamiliar was Ocean Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey, a military base with some spare capacity which was used to house a federal archive: getting access to the archive involved first of all negotiating an armed guard, then travelling by military bus to the building where the records were kept, and finally enduring soft music while in the record room. More familiar has been the constant struggle to persuade those who have historical documents in their care to allow me to consult them. Watchful receptionists determined to protect their employers from time-wasters have often proved more formidable obstacles than the armed guards at Ocean Terminal. A less expected obstacle was provided by a group of anarchists who occupied a Berlin church shortly before I was intending to use its archive—said to be one of the best in the city. I never did find out if this was true. When, after several letters or phone calls, access to an archive is finally achieved, there is, of course, no guarantee that the records will prove to be of any relevance. So I have plenty of memories of the frustrations of historical research. But I also have vivid memories of the pure delight of being alone in an old building, with all around me cupboards stuffed full of the letters, minute-books, registers, and crumbling pamphlets that have been temporarily entrusted to my care.
I would like to begin, therefore, by expressing my great gratitude to the people—mainly priests, pastors and church secretaries—who trusted me with the records in their keeping, and often gave up time to help me in other ways. Next I would like to thank the librarians and archivists, who provided essential help at many points in this project. This study would also have been impossible without various research grants, and I would like to acknowledge my debt to the former Social Science Research Council, the British Academy, and the University of Birmingham. I would like to thank Harry Buglass for drawing the maps. Another debt is to those who provided me with beds to sleep in, lent me tapes and unpublished papers, helped me get access to sources, or discussed aspects of the book with me: I would like specially to thank Flavia Alaya, Alan Bartlett, Michael Bäumer, Ursula Baumann, Gerlinde Böpple, Callum Brown, the late Harry Browne, Jeff Cox, Jay Dolan, Owen Dudley Edwards, Clive Field, Jean Fischer, Manfred Fischer, Stephen Fischer, Sheridan Gilley, Larry Glickman, David Hempton, Lucian Hölscher, Paul Joyce, Karen Kearns, Christa Ressmeyer Klein,