United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Commission on Ecumenical Missions and Relations
Secretaries' files: Colombia Mission, 1882-1972 (bulk: 1911-1970)
Finding Aid to Record Group 88
16.00 cu.ft.

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

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

The work of the PCUSA in Colombia began in 1856 when the Board of Foreign Missions sent the Reverend Horace B. Pratt to Bogota to establish a mission station. Initially, conditions for evangelization were favorable, but civil war and staunch opposition from the government and the Roman Catholic Church precluded further expansion. For the next 32 years, Bogota remained the center of Presbyterian work in Colombia. Subsequent stations were later established at Barranquilla (1888), Medellin (1889), Bucaramanga (1912), Cerete (1913) and Ocana (1934).

Though Colombia was the first Latin American field occupied by the PCUSA, progress was remarkably slow there compared to that on the other fields in Latin America. Poor communication facilities enhanced the mission's isolation, though by the 1930s and 1940s expanded air travel mitigated this somewhat. Resistance to Protestant evangelization was intense from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, from the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy and from the government.

The election of the liberal President Herrera in 1930 signaled a more favorable attitude toward Protestants. This resulted in the adoption of the 1936 constitution, which guaranteed religious freedom to all Christians. In 1937, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia was organized and two years later, the Colombia Synod procured a charter from the Synod Holding Corporation, thereby insuring a congregation's ability to hold title to its property - an important step in stabilizing the Protestant presence in Colombia.

The liberalization of the 1930s and the advent of the Second World War did much to expand Presbyterian work in Colombia. Displaced missionaries from the Orient were transferred to Colombia, and, for the first time in its history, the mission operated with a full staff. This period of unprecedented growth was checked, however, during the late 1940s. The return of civil war to Colombia in 1948 and the subsequent triumph of the Conservative Party marked a new era of Protestant persecution. Though the more violent aspects of this era had subsided by 1960, the crucial question of the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Colombian government was at that time still unresolved.

The Church's ministry in Colombia has been primarily evangelistic and educational in nature. Schools such as the Colegio Americano for girls and boys in Bogota and the Bible Training School in Medellin illustrate this fact. In 1959, the Presbyterian Mission in Colombia was integrated within the Colombian Presbyterian Church, though financial and personnel support from the UPCUSA continued until the early 1970s.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

RG 88 documents the work of the Board of Foreign Missions in Colombia from 1882-1972. The first fifty years of the mission's history are not reflected here, though material from this period has been microfilmed and is available in the PHS library. The bulk of this collection covers the period from 1911 through the early 1970s and consists primarily of minutes, reports and correspondence files. The work of the Colombia Mission is extensively documented in the above and reveals the numerous cultural and political obstacles that confronted mission personnel. Most extensively documented is the issue of Protestant persecution in Colombia, 1950-1964. Correspondence files from missionaries, fraternal workers, mission station and institution personnel constitute a sizable portion of this collection. Also included are various materials dealing with the history of the Colombia Mission compiled by mission personnel.

RG 88 is arranged as follows:

Series 1: Reports, 1905-1971 Boxes 1-2

Series 2: Minutes, 1912-1967 Box 3

Series 3: Correspondence, 1882-1972 Boxes 4-14

Series 4: Miscellany, 1915-1972 Box 14

Series 5: Mission History, 1917-1946 Boxes 15-16

NOTES TO THE RESEARCHER

Many materials from this collection dating from the late 1950s onward are in Spanish. A sound reading knowledge of that language would be helpful in using these materials.

Knowledge of the numbering system used by the Board of Foreign Missions Office may be helpful to the researcher. The Colombia Mission was designated #17. Another number, preceded by a hyphen, identified the type of material. These numbers were:

1 - Minutes
2 - Station reports, educational reports
3 - Correspondence with nationals and others who were not regular missionaries
4 - Cables
5 - Board Letters to the Colombia Mission
7 - Executive Committee Correspondence
8 - Personal reports
9 - Statistical reports
10 - Property correspondence
11 - Missionary correspondence

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

Box	Folder	Description
1	1	 Finding Aid to Record Group 88

		SERIES 1: REPORTS, 1905-1971

		Subseries 1: Mission/Institution/Station/Committee Reports, 1911-1971

1	2	1911-15
	3	1918-19
	4	1920-24
	5	1925-28
	6	1929-33
	7	1934-38
	8	1939-43
	9	1944-46
	10	1947-49
	11	1950
	12	1951-53
	13	1954-55
	14	1956
	15	1957-71

		Subseries 2: Mission Treasurer, 1945-1954

1	16	1945-49
	17	1950-54
	
		Subseries 3: Personal Reports, 1911-1971

2	1	1911-18
	2	1919-24
	3	1925-28
	4	1929-32
	5	1933-38
	6	1940-43
	7	1944-46
	8	1947-50
	9	1951-53
	10	1954-55
	11	1956-71

		Subseries 4: Statistical Reports, 1911-1944

2	12	1911-15
2	13	1916-23
	14 	1924-33
	15	1934-44
	16	Miscellaneous reports, 1905-62

		SERIES 2: MINUTES, 1912-1967

		Subseries 1: Annual Mission Meeting Minutes, 1912-1967

3	1	1912-24
	2	1925-39
	3	1940-51
	4	1952-59
	5	1960
	6	1961-63

		Subseries 2: Executive/Mission Committee Minutes, 1912-1959

3	8	1912-33
	9	1934-48
	10	1949-59
	11	Miscellaneous Mission Minutes, 1912-26

		SERIES 3: CORRESPONDENCE, 1882-1972

		Subseries 1: Missionary Correspondence, 1882-1961

4	1	1882-84 (Letterbook)
	2	1888-90 (Letterbook)
	3	Journal Letter/Diary of Mrs. Caldwell, 1886-87
	4	1911-15
	5	1916-24
	6	1926
	7	1927
	8	1928
	9	1929
   	10-12	1930
	13	1931
	14	1932
	15	1933
		
5	1	1934
	2	1935
5	3	1936
	4	1937
	5	1938
	6	1940
    	7-8	1941

		Subseries 2: Missionary Correspondence, 1882-1961

5    	9-12	1942
	13	1943
	14	1944
	15	1945
	16	1946
	17	1947
	18	1948
	19	1949
		
6	1	1950
    	2-3	1954
	4	1955
	5	1958
	6	1960
   	7, 10	1961, 1960-62
	
		Subseries 3: Property Correspondence, 1929-1970

6	8	Miscellaneous correspondence, 1929-34
	9	1931-55
	11	1948-54
	12	1956-67
	13	1968-70

		Subseries 4: Colombian Churches Correspondence, 1956-1972

6	14	1956-57
	15	1958-60
	16	1961-64
	
7	1	1965-66
	2	1967-68
	3	1969-72

		Subseries 5: Board Letters to Colombia Mission, 1911-1954

7	4	1911-15
	5	1916-20
	6	1921-22
	7	1923-25
	9	1930-31
7	10	1932-33
	11	1934-38
	12	1939-47
	13	1948-53
	14	1954
		
		Subseries 6: Persecution Correspondence, 1950-1964

8	1	1950
	2	1951
    	3-4	1952
	5	1953
    	6-7	1954-55
	8	1956
	9	1957
	10	1958
	11	1959
	12	1960
	13	1961-64

		Subseries 7: Executive Committee Correspondence, 1926-1972

9	1	1926-29
	2	1931-32
	3	1933-34
	4	1935-36
	5	1937
	6	1938-39
	7	1940-41
	8	1942
	9	1943
	10	1943-51
	11	1944-45
	12	1946-47
	13	1948
	14	1949-50
	15	1951
	16	1952
	17	1953
	18	1954
	19	1956-59
	20	1961
	21	1962
	23	1963

10	1	1964-65
	2	1966
	3	1967 (January-June)
	4	1967 (July-December)
	5	1968
	6	1969
	7	1970
	8	1971-72

		Subseries 8: Station Correspondence, 1915-1974

10	9	Bucaramanga Station, 1915-22
	10	Ibague Station--Bible Training School, 1937-47
	11	Medellin--Medellin Church, 1911-30
	12	Bible Training Center, 1923-36
	13	Orientation Center, 1942-47
	14	Bogota--Colegio Americano, 1957-60
	15					1926-47
	16		   Girls' School, 1915-1944

11	1	Station correspondence (general), 1915-29
	2					       1928-59
	3					       1945-50
	4	Barranquilla--Quinby Memorial, 1928-43
	5			    Hospital Project, 1946-48
	6			    Boys' School Calendared correspondence, 1921-45
	7			    Boys' School Correspondence, 1921-47
	8			    Girls' School Calendared correspondence, 1933-46
	9	Bogota--Calendared correspondence, 1925-47

		Subseries 9: Institutional Correspondence, 1948-1972

11	10	1949-50
	11	1951-53
	12	1949-55
	13	1956-58
	14	1959-60
	15	1961-67
	16	1968-69
	17	1970-72

		Subseries 10: Calendared Correspondence, 1911-1925

12	1	1911-13
	2	1914-15
12	3	1916-17
	4	1918
	5	1919
	6	1920-21
	7	1922-23
	8	1924
	9	1925
	
		Subseries 11: Mission Treasurer Correspondence, 1942-1971

13	1	Reports/miscellaneous items, 1942-71
	2	1947-59
	3	1958-61
	4	1962-65	
	5	1946-50

		Subseries 12: Executive Secretary Correspondence, 1951-1956

13    	6-8	1951-56

		Subseries 13: Correspondence of Donald Fletcher, 1956-1960

13	9	Correspondence with Mission Secretary, 1956-57
	10	Correspondence re religious persecution, 1956-59
	11	Commission Actions/informal reports, 1956-60
	12	Correspondence re women's work, 1956-60
	13	Correspondence re youth work, 1957
	14	Statistical reports, 1957-58
   	15-18	General correspondence, 1957-60
	19	Correspondence/reports from Synod Secretary, 1957-60
	20	Miscellaneous items, 1959?
	21	Correspondence re Colegio Americano, 1958
	22	Correspondence re Fraternal Workers Commission, 1960

		Subseries 14: General Correspondence, 1949-1972

14	1    1949-55
	2    1956-67
	3    1968-72

		SERIES 4: MISCELLANY, 1915-1972

14	4	Blueprints, Clinic Americano, n.d.
	5	Blueprints, Barranquilla Clinic, n.d.
	6	Colegio Americano (Girls), 1942
14	7	Bulletins, Evangelical Confederation of Colombia, 1957-60
	8	Cables, 1926-72
9	Committee for Intercultural Dialogue and Action in Latin America (CIDALIA), 1970
	11	CIDALIA, 1971
	12	Correspondence with non-missionaries, 1915-40
	13	Correspondence with/about Colombia Presbytery, 1927-47
	14	Correspondence--John Sinclair, 1965
	15	COEMAR Staff Actions/Interim minutes, 1963-64
	16	Colombian Institute for Social Development, 1971
	17	Manual: By-laws of Colombia Mission, 1929-43
		Rules/Regulations - Fraternal Workers Committee, 1964
	18	Miscellaneous correspondence, M.B. Dickason, 1927-40
	19							     1944-62
	20	Miscellaneous Building Sketches, n.d.
	21	Projects, Center for Study of the National Reality, 1970	

		SERIES 5: MISSION HISTORY, 1917-1946
		
15	1	History of Colombia Mission, n.d.
	2	History of Colombia Mission (draft), 1946?
	3	Correspondence, 1930-1951?
	4	Miscellaneous items, 1917?-1950?
	5	Colegio Americano, miscellaneous items, 1923-45
    	6-10	Miscellaneous items, 1940?-1950?
	11	Missionary list/History of Colombia Mission, n.d.
	12	Missionary Biographies, n.d.
	13	Missionary index file, n.d.

16	1	CEDEC Bulletins on persecution, 1952-57
    	2-4	Photograph Albums of Colombia Mission, n.d.