A tract is a literary work, and in current usage, usually religious in nature. The notion of what constitutes a tract has changed over time. By the early part of the 21st century, a tract referred to sermons, tome 2 PDF brief pamphlet used for religious and political purposes, though far more often the former.
The distribution of tracts pre-dates the development of the printing press, with the term being applied by scholars to religious and political works at least as early as the 13th century. They were used to disseminate the teachings of John Wycliffe in the 14th century. As a political tool, they proliferated throughout Europe during the 17th century. As religious literature, tracts were used throughout the turbulence of the Protestant Reformation and the various upheavals of the 17th century. Charles Spurgeon wrote many tracts, and in addition to these evangelical writings, his « Penny Sermons » were printed weekly and distributed widely by the millions and used in a similar way, and they still are today.
Tracts are often left in places with high amounts of public traffic. This tract was left under a vehicle windshield wiper. The publishing of tracts for religious purposes has continued unabated, with many evangelical tract ministries, in particular, existing today. In the United States, the American Tract Society has continuously published literature of this type since 1825.