Oxford English Dictionary
Etymology: Apparently abbreviated from Latin tractātus > tractate (a book or literary work treating of a particular subject)
2a. A book or written work treating of some particular topic; a treatise; a written or printed discourse or dissertation
3a. In later use: A short pamphlet on some religious, political, or other topic, suitable for distribution or for purposes of propaganda.
3b. Tracts for the Times: the title of a series of pamphlets on theological and ecclesiastical topics (known also as the Oxford Tracts, or simply the Tracts) started by John Henry Newman, and published at Oxford 1833–1841, on the doctrines of which the Tractarian movement was based . . . .
[The Oxford Movement or Tractarian Movement, led by High Anglican Church clergy, argued that the Anglican or English Church, despite having separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the reign of King Henry VIII, remained in fact a branch of Catholicism. Newman eventually joined the Roman Catholic Church, a conversion described in his spiritual autobiography, Apologia Pro Vita Sua. As an Anglo-Catholic, Newman is part of a tradition that includes Saint Thomas More and, later, the Anglo-American poet T. S. Eliot.]
[The Indian Tracts were a series written in first-generation New England describing efforts to convert the Massachusett Indians and organize them into biblically-inspired utopian communities called "Praying Towns."]