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American Tract Society

The American Tract Society (ATS) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian but evangelical organization founded on May 11, 1825 in New York City for the purpose of publishing and disseminating Christian literature. ATS traces its lineage back through the New York Tract Society (1812) and the New England Tract Society (1814) to the Religious Tract Society of London, begun in 1799. Over the years, ATS has produced and distributed many millions of pieces of literature. There is a printed pamphlet titled "Constitution of the American Tract Society, instituted in Boston 1814" referencing the distribution of 'Religious Tracts' by Christians in Europe and America during the previous twenty years. The purpose of which was to combine the energy & activities of various groups & individuals across New England.

American Tract Society
The American Tract Society building in New York City
FoundedMay 11, 1825
SuccessorGood News Publishers
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationNew York City
Publication typesTracts

ATS is theologically conservative. It receives funding through a combination of private donations and tract sales. ATS accepts donations to fund tract and evangelistic resource distribution including start-up funding for foreign tract distribution in regions including Africa, Asia, India, South and Central America, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Churches and other evangelistic groups in the United States can purchase ATS literature at nominal cost for use in their own evangelistic ministries.

ATS is board-governed and benefits from the visibility of its Council of Reference, an advisory board of evangelical notables from business, ministry, and other walks of life. ATS is currently headquartered in Garland, Texas.

On September 1, 2012, American Tract Society entered into a joint publishing agreement with Good News Publishing, which is a division of Crossway.[1]


Early historyEdit

American Tract's first home in 1825 was a four-story building at 87 Nassau Street in New York City. Later, in 1894, American Tract built a 23-story headquarters at 150 Nassau Street, which still stands today. At the time of its construction it was one of the tallest buildings in NY City.[2]

Throughout the nineteenth century, ATS used traveling salesmen. These peddlers sold tracts, provided counseling, and led church services.[2]


The American Tract Society has disseminated Christian tracts for over 185 years, and believes its mission and message are as relevant today as when it was formed in 1825.

In 1978, ATS relocated its headquarters from New York to Garland, Texas. The move came about as a result of the growing number of churches and ministries purchasing ATS literature in Texas. The leaders of American Tract Society also discovered that it would be cost effective to have the ATS office in Texas.

The ever-increasing advances in technology and social media present both challenges and opportunities for ATS in disseminating its message. Over the years ATS has developed a number of ways to present the gospel in a relevant and timely manner. ATS continues to develop new tools to communicate Christian teachings to the next generation.

Through its international division (International Tract Society) ATS has approximately 136 print partners in 70 countries who print and distribute tracts in over 100 languages. The goal is to provide ATS print partners with the necessary resources and funding to print and distribute evangelism tools among disadvantaged churches and evangelists worldwide.

In the newsEdit

In 2010, and the Dallas Morning News reported American Tract Society as the least efficient charity in America citing a rating from Charity Navigator based on 2007 financial data. Using data from ATS’s 2007 federal income tax return, Charity Navigator reported that administrative and management expenses comprised 68% of total expenses and assigned ATS their lowest efficiency rating.

While recognized that ATS receives income from other sources than contributions (i.e. tract sales), their analysis counted the production cost of the tracts as "administrative and management" expenses. Tract sales are ATS’ primary source of revenue and including these production costs in the calculation of total expenses improves ATS’s organization efficiency as measured by Charity Navigator and more closely aligns ATS with other charities performing similar types of work.

While ATS’ ratio of Management and Administrative expenses to Total Expenses was unusually high in 2007, it should be noted that 2007 was a year in which ATS incurred unusual management expenses related to reorganization. ATS emerged from the reorganization a much leaner and more effective operation as evidenced by the 2008 and 2009 financial data presented in the Organizational Efficiency Table included below.

In December 2010, The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) announced their accreditation of ATS based on the ECFA Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, including financial accountability, transparency, sound board governance and ethical fund raising.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Dear partner in tract ministry,". Crossway. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Early History of the American Tract Society". American Tract Society. 2008. Archived from the original on May 25, 2010.


  • Rorabaugh, W.J. The Alcoholic Republic. NY: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Further readingEdit

  • Elizabeth Twaddell. The American Tract Society, 1814-1860. Church History, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Jun., 1946), pp. 116–132

External linksEdit