The burned-over district was the religious scene in the western and central regions of New York in the early 19th century, where religious revivals and Pentecostal movements of the Second Great Awakening took place.
The term was coined by Charles Grandison Finney who in his 1876 book Autobiography of Charles G. Finney referred to a "burnt district" to denote an area in central and western New York State during the Second Great Awakening. The name was inspired by the notion that the area had been so heavily evangelized as to have no "fuel" (unconverted population) left over to "burn" (convert).
When religion is related to reform movements of the period, such as abolition, women's rights, and utopian social experiments, the region expands to include areas of central New York that were important to these movements.
Religion in the district 
Western New York still had a frontier quality during the early canal boom, making professional and established clergy scarce, lending the piety of the area many of the self-taught qualities that proved susceptible to folk religion. Besides producing many mainline Protestant converts, especially in nonconformist sects, the area spawned a number of innovative religious movements, all founded by laypeople during the early 19th century. These include:
- The Latter Day Saint movement (whose largest branch is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Joseph Smith, Jr. lived in the area and stated he was led by the angel Moroni to his source for the Book of Mormon, the golden plates, near Palmyra, New York.
- The Millerites. William Miller was a farmer who lived in Low Hampton, New York, who preached that the literal Second Coming would occur "October 22, 1844." Millerism became extremely popular in western New York State, and some views remain active in church organizations affilitiated with Adventism.
- The Fox sisters of Hydesville, New York conducted the first table-rapping séances in the area, leading to the American movement of Spiritualism (centered in the retreat at Lily Dale and in the Plymouth Spiritualist Church in Rochester, NY) that taught communion with the dead.
- The Shakers were very active in the area, with their first communal farm establishing in central New York.
- The Oneida Society was a large utopian group that established a successful community in central New York that subsequently disbanded. It was known for its unique interpretation of group marriage which had mates chosen by committee and offspring of the community raised in common.
In addition to religious activity, the region including the burned-over district was famous for social radicalism. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the early feminist, was a resident of Seneca Falls in central New York where she and others in the community initiated the Seneca Falls Convention devoted to women's suffrage.
The larger region was the main source of converts to the Fourierist utopian socialist movement. The Skaneateles Community in central New York was such an experiment. The Oneida Society, likewise in central New York, was also considered a utopian group. Related to radical reform, upstate New York provided many members of Hunter Patriots, some of whom volunteered to invade Canada during the Patriot War.
See also 
- Cross (1950)
- Martin, John H (2005). "An Overview of the Burned-Over District". Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-Visited.
- Glenn C. Altschuler, Jan M. Saltzgaber: Revivalism social conscience, and community in the Burned-over District. The trial of Rhoda Bement. Cornell University Press, Ithaca NY 1983 (online version)
- Cross, Whitney, (1950) R. The Burned-Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800–1850.
- John H. Martin, Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-Visited, The Crooked Lake Review, Fall 2005. Book-length study in a local history quarterly.
- The “Burned-Over District, 1810-1830 Federal Census Indices”