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Our Work In The Archives, Third Quarter 2019

November 20, 2019
A Cuban youngster eagerly reaches for a platter of food from a Red Cross volunteer at a refugee camp near Lima, Peru. Religious News Service image PC-53556

The third quarter was an active time for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) national archives, and it feels like we're only just catching up! Here is a snapshot of our work in the archives in the summer and fall.

In July we welcomed Carmen and Jack Wilmore (above) to the building; Jack was delivering to the collections the personal papers of his dad, the Presbyterian civil rights worker and teacher Gayraud Wilmore. PHS staff were present at Big Tent in Baltimore from July 30 to August 3; David Staniunas joined the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus for its gathering, to strengthen ties with Palestinian, Armenian, and Egyptian Presbyterians.

On Friday 13 September, we undertook our annual records management event. This year 248 cubic feet of records which had met their retention period were packed and sent off-site for secure destruction, all part of our essential work as stewards of records of national agencies of the PC(USA).

Staff here in the summer and fall completed 25 digitization orders, amounting to 12,990 images. Among the highlights, all 493 images of the Religious News Service NEH pilot project are scanned and available in Pearl. We completed work for one of our 2018 Heritage Preservation Grant recipients, Embudo Presbyterian Church (Dixon, N.M.). From RG 241, we imaged a photo album created by Florence Leila Logan, a Presbyterian missionary to China. Two other significant mission collections have digitized content for the first time: American Presbyterian Congo Mission records (RG 432), and PCUS Korea Mission records (RG 444).

“Thank you so much for all your wonderful help, support, and advice before and during my research visit…The collection materials uncovered are an incredible and valuable asset to the Prince Mahidol Museum Project at McCormick Hospital, Chiang Mai…” – George McBride

We had a record number of researcher visits in July – 121. George McBride, from the Prince Mahidol of Songkla Museum at McCormick Hospital, Chiang Mai, Thailand, used our collection to find letters and photographs relating to the “Father of Modern Medicine and Public Health of Thailand” and his connections to Presbyterian medical missionaries. PHS research fellows Leanne Calvert, Yasmina El Chami, and Kevin Rose took up residence in the reading room. And mission co-workers in South Korea, Choon and Yen Hee Lim, examined hundreds of Foreign Missionary Vertical Files for a forthcoming guidebook for Korean churches.

For the third quarter of 2019, archivists responded to a total of 756 inquiries, which included serving 123 in-house patrons for a total of 264 research visits. Researchers visited from 25 states and 8 countries (Brazil, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, and the United Kingdom). We retrieved more than 1,000 items from the collection. By comparison, in the third quarter of 2018, staff responded to 806 inquiries and served 99 in-house patrons for a total of 208 research visits.

PC(USA) Congregations Served

During the third quarter, we answered questions from 76 PC(USA) congregations, chiefly about depositing and digitizing original records. Explore more in our interactive map!

PC(USA) Mid Councils and National Agencies/Offices Served

We also served a total of 29 PC(USA) mid councils, including those mentioned below:

Presbytery of Boise
Presbytery of the Cascades
Presbytery of Chicago
Presbytery of East Iowa
Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma
Presbytery of Eastern Virginia
Presbytery of Great Rivers
Presbytery of Homestead
Presbytery of Hudson River
Presbytery of Huntingdon
Presbytery of Indian Nations
Presbytery of Long Island
Presbytery of the Mid-South
Presbytery of Missouri River Valley
Presbytery of Newark
Presbytery of New Castle
Presbytery of New York City
Presbytery of Northwest Coast
Presbytery of Scioto Valley
Presbytery of South Dakota
Presbytery of Southern Kansas
Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area
Presbytery of Upper Ohio Valley
Presbytery of Utah
Presbytery of Wabash Valley
Presbytery of Washington
Presbytery of West Virginia
Presbytery of Whitewater Valley
Synod of the Northeast
Jarvie Commonweal Endowment Reconciliation Committee
American Church in Paris
Office of the General Assembly, Mid Council Ministries
Presbyterian Foundation
Presbyterian Mission Agency, World Mission

In the third quarter PHS accessioned 116 groups of materials, amounting to more than 140 cubic feet. These included the records of 72 active and historical Presbyterian congregations from 17 states.

Where our new accessions came from in the third quarter 2019. See our most recent additions in Sheppard.

Stay tuned for our report from the extensive travel and outreach efforts of the fall in our 2019 roundup, coming soon!