United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations.
Secretaries' files: Iran Mission, 1944-1973 (bulk: 1956-1968)
Finding Aid to Record Group 161
3.00 cu. ft.

Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147-1516


From the outset, Presbyterian work in Iran (Persia) was threefold in nature, evangelical, medical, and educational. Missionary efforts originated with the work of Rev. Justin Perkins in 1834. At first, activities were limited to only a few lone missionaries. By 1872 , however, the work was transferred to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. The first stations were opened in Tehran and Uramia in that year, and in Tabriz in 1873. Hamadan Station was organized in 1880. Resht was opened in 1902; Kermanshah, in 1905. Finally, in 1911, a mission station was established in the sacred Persian city of Meshed. Numerous local churches had been organized and placed in the hands of native ministers within the central Evangelical Church of Iran. Medical work began as early as 1835, and was extended in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Formal hospitals were built in Kermanshah in 1882, in Tehran in 1890, and in Tabriz in 1913, followed by similar openings in Meshed, Hamandan, and Resht. Schools were established for the children of missionaries by the 1870's. In time, these grew into multinational institutions such as the Alborz Foundation (Armaghan Institute), Iran Bethel (Damavand) College, the Community School of Tehran, the Mehr Jordan Schools, and later community out-reach programs.

All of these, schools, hospitals, and churches were in full operation in the late 1950s, the period in which half this collection begins. However, within a decade and a half, a marked change occurred in the Iran Mission, as in Third World missionary movements overall. In 1970, only two of the five mission-operated hospitals remained open. By 1971, even those were forced to close due, in part, to increased national health care, and deteriorating physical plants. Two mission nursing schools were turned over to national agencies. Further, the Armaghan Institute, Damavand College, and the Community School of Tehran were re-established as independent organizations. In many ways, this decline in the mission structure signals the mission's own success in terms of advanced education, medical care, and Christian service.


These materials from 1956 through 1973 illustrate a critical period in the administration of the Presbyterian Mission in Iran. The single largest group of papers in the collection is the Executive Correspondence between the Board of Foreign Mission's Secretary for Iran and the Near East and the Secretary of the Iran Mission in Tehran. This correspondence is valuable in documenting Board-Mission relations, as well as, in giving insight into every aspect of mission-related work in Iran. Ancillary to these papers is a smaller group of General Correspondence largely concerning medical progress in Iran, and the partnership of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Iran and the Presbyterian Mission. Minutes record the actions of the Executive Committee of the Mission, the Church Council of Iran, the Board of Evangelism, and the Literature Committee of the Church Council. General and Personal Reports document the educational, medical, committee, and general functions of the Mission, and the attitudes and aspirations of the missionaries themselves. Further mission-related materials include Treasurer's files, budgetary information on appropriations,
annual COEMAR statistical reports, mission-church affairs, and committees on mission activities.

Finally, a relatively large number of papers relate to the schools and hospitals maintained by the mission in Iran. The researcher is advised to supplement the use of these latter files with the larger body of executive and general correspondence, Board and committee minutes, and general reports.

In processing this collection, the principle of provenance has been observed with minor adjustments to correct filing problems, minimize duplication, and bring together similar items.

Subject groupings in this guide reflect identical terms used in the original COEMAR filing system. Arrangement of papers is chronological, except for General Reports whose original alphabetical filing structure has been retained.


Under the heading General Reports, items have been divided into four groups for each year, Committee, Educational, Medical, and Other Mission Reports, then sub-arranged alphabetically by the focus of the individual report. Annual reports on mission-related activities may, thus, be found as follows:

Committees -
Boarding (of missionaries)
Government Relations
Home and family Life
Mission Medical
Mission Nursing
Mission Property
Orientation and Study
Provident Fund
Social and Educational Projects
Social and Evangelistic

Educational Reports _
Alborz Foundation (Armaghan Institute)
Christian Center (Kermanshah)
Christian Center (Meshed)
Community School (Tehran)
Hamandan Social and Educational Work
Iran Bethel (Damavand) College
Joint Educational Council
Mehr Schools
Nurbakhsh School of Nursing (Meshed)
Theological Education

Medical Reports
Christian Hospital, Hamandan
Christian Hospital, Kermanshah
Christian Hospital and Nursing School, Meshed
Christian Hospital and Nursing School, Resht
Christian Hospital and Nursing School, Tabriz
Clinic of Hope
Good Sheperd Clinic (Resht)
Medical Secretary
Westminster Hospital, (Kermanshah)

Other Mission Reports
Church Council of Iran
Church and Evangelistic Work
Khuzestan Church Council
Meshed Church
Mission Annual Meeting Conference
Mission Annual Narrative
Mission Dormitory and Guesthouse
Mission Life
Mission Secretary
Mission Treasurer
Rezaieh Station
Social and Evangelistic Work
Social Service Work (South Tehran)
Tehran Church
Women's (and Children's) Work

The researcher is informed that while this Record Group represents an important period in the Iran Mission history, some sections are incomplete. This collection will be best used in conjunction with Record Group 91, the Papers of the Iran (Persia) Mission, 1881-1968. There is, of course, considerable overlap for a certain period between the two collections, and similar subject groupings are common to both. The researcher should, also, consult library holdings for published materials which have been catalogued separately.

Collection processed and finding aid prepared: January 1983
Frederick J. Heuser, Jr, Archivist

Finding aid revised: July 1992
Stephanie Muntone, Processing Archivist

Box	Folder	Description
1	1	Finding Aid to Record Group 161


    	1-4	1956-59
    	5-12	1960-65
   	13-19	1966-69
	20	1970
	21	1971-73 (incomplete)


   	22-23	1956-59
   	24-30	1960-69
   	31-32	1970-72


2   	1-4	1956-59
    	5-9	1960-64
	10	1967 (incomplete)
	11	1968 (incomplete)


   	12-14	1956-58
   	15-23	1961-69
   	24-25	1970-72


   	26-28	1956-58
   	29-38	1960-69
   	39-41	1970-72


   	42-43	1958-59
   	44-52	1960-68


   	53-55	1956-59
   	56-61	1960-65
	62	COEMAR annual statistical reports, 1960-61, 1963-64,


3	1	1958-60
	2	1960 (photographs)
	3	1961-62
	4	1963-68
	5	Missionary Maintenance Committee, 1964-69
    	6-8	Mission Property Committee, 1956-69
   	9-10	Christian Service Board, 1965, 1967-70


	11	Institutions, general, 1957-64, 1968-70


3	12	Community School, Teheran, 1956-58
   	13-17						  1959-69
	18						  1970-71
	19	Mehr Jordan School, 1958, 1962-64, 1966, 1968-69
	20	Alborz Foundation (Armaghan English Language Institute) -
		Legal papers, 1951-53
   	21-24			    1955-59
   	25-29			    1960-65
	30			    "Student Survey," 1965
	31			    1967
	32			    1968
	33			    1969-70
	34	Iran Bethel (Damavand) College, 1963-65 (incomplete)
   	35-38							  1966-69
   	39-41	Youth Palace (English Language Institute), 1969-72
	42	Christian Training Community, 1966


3	43	Hamadan--Lily Reid Holt Memorial Hospital, Board Actions, 1944-69
	44		    1956-59
	45		    1960-62, 1968
	46	Kermanshah--Westminster Hospital, 1956-61
	47	Meshed--Christian Hospital, Nurbakhsh School of Nursing,
		1956, 1958-62, 1964, 1966
	48		 1967-68
	49	      1969-70
	50	Resht--Christian Hospital, 1956, 1958-69, 1961, 1963
	51	Tabriz--Colton Kirkwood Whipple Hospital/American Mission
		School of nursing, 1956, 1958-60, 1962-64
	52				    1967
	53				    1968
	54				    1969 (photograph)
	55				    1969-70
	56	Teheran--Clinic of Hope, 1962-63, 1966-68
	57	Iran Mission history and reference file, 1955-70