Our Work in the Archives, Fourth Quarter 2019 | Presbyterian Historical Society

You are here

Our Work in the Archives, Fourth Quarter 2019

January 7, 2020
Courtenay Willcox and Greg Klimovitz from the Presbytery of Philadelphia, RG 525 records, attendees at the BKBB dinner, Fall-Winter 2019.

Here are some highlights of our work in the tail end of 2019!


In the fourth quarter we had 143 research visits, bringing us to 924 for the year; this marks the fourth straight year of dramatically increased use of PHS's resources, representing 144% of our 2015 workload.

Among our building visitors in November were Dr. Cheol Seung Kim and colleagues from the Presbyterian Medical Center (also called Jesus Hospital) in Jeonju, South Korea, who researched the history of their institution and mission work in Korea.


Dr. Cheol Seung Kim and colleagues

In December we welcomed more than 60 people into our basement meeting room for a dinner celebration of "Building Knowledge and Breaking Barriers: An Archives-Based Learning Project" between PHS and the Community College of Philadelphia. Three professors spoke about their semester-long collaborations with PHS, and students from a fiction class read from their PHS-materials-inspired work, available on our website.


Barry Smith, the historian at Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church (Chicago, Ill.), visited PHS to deliver the David Sindt Papers. The papers include material from the early years of Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns. Smith had processed the papers and created an index to the collection that includes his own recollections of the More Light Movement. While he was here, Elizabeth Wittrig was able to interview Smith about his work.

By the end of the year, many hands had contributed to the completion of processing RG 525, Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Division of International Mission photographs. The collection, in more than 22 cubic feet, spans mission work in the 20th century, and includes a tranche of photographs from Iraq in the 1950s and '60s.

Elizabeth Wittrig and Allison Davis at work on Record Group 525, Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Division of International Mission photographs.

Yazidi women and children, Bashiqa, Iraq, 1950s. From Record Group 525.

Among other significant personal papers collections we brought in were the records of Amal Halaby Marks, shepherd of Middle Eastern Presbyterian congregations. We're grateful to Ameer and Charles Marks for their faithful stewardship of her materials.

PHS Travel

David Staniunas had a busy October on the road, traveling to Detroit to appraise, pack, and ship records from the Presbytery of Detroit and from First Presbyterian Church (Detroit, Mich.) held by Ecumenical Theological Seminary and to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the Michigan Black Presbyterian Caucus; joining Nancy Taylor, Kim Shiley, and Fred Tangeman at the Mid Council Leaders Gathering in Baltimore, where David facilitated "Technology for the Mid Council" and led the workshop "Archives in the Anthropocene;" and driving between Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilson, and Smithfield, North Carolina, to visit the family of Katie Geneva Cannon and lead workshops for the Administrative Professionals Association of the PC(USA) and for the Presbytery of New Hope. David also joined most of the PHS crew at the Office of the General Assembly staff retreat in New Canaan, West Virginia.

Sonia Prescott and Elizabeth Wittrig traveled to New York City, where they conducted interviews with four pastors, including Bertram Johnson, about the struggle for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the PC(USA).

Bertram Johnson, New York City, NY, November 2019.

Nancy Taylor attended the 200th Anniversary Celebration of the Presbyterian Outlook in October, along with Fred Tangeman. In November, Nancy presented at the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference in Cambridge, Maryland, on the Religious News Service photo collection in the session “Moving from Negative to Positive: Working Across Disciplines on Large Photograph Digitization Projects.”

Lisa Jacobson and Charlene Peacock presented “Researching Your Presbyterian Roots” in a live-stream webinar with the Open Genealogy Lab at Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, Nevada, on December 6, 2019.

In December, Kim Shiley attended the 75th anniversary of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, "Steadfast Service, Scholarship and Faith," joining former PHS Board members Jane Carl and Cathy Adams at the celebration. Kim also visited Jane and Cathy’s congregation, Independent Presbyterian Church, a recent supporter of PHS’s outreach work in Puerto Rico.

PC(USA) Congregations

During the fourth quarter, we answered questions from 65 PC(USA) congregations, chiefly about depositing and digitizing original records. For 2019, we served 276 individual congregations, many in several interactions over the course of the year. Explore more by clicking our map below.

PC(USA) Mid Councils and National Agencies/Offices

We also served a total of 18 PC(USA) mid councils, and nine national agency offices:

Presbytery of Arkansas
Presbytery of Baltimore
Presbytery of Beaver-Butler
Presbytery of the Cascades
Presbytery of Donegal
Presbytery of Indian Nations
Presbytery of Long Island
Presbytery of Mackinac
Presbytery of New Covenant
Presbytery of New Harmony
Presbytery of New York City
Presbytery of Newark
Presbytery of Northwest Coast
Presbytery of Providence
Presbytery of Southern Kansas
Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area
Presbytery of Wabash Valley
Presbytery of Winnebago

Board of Pensions
Presbyterian Foundation
Presbyterian Mission Agency, Mission Program Grants
Presbyterian Mission Agency, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries
Presbyterian Mission Agency, World Mission, Middle Eastern/Europe Office
Presbyterian Mission Agency, Theology Formation and Evangelism
Office of the General Assembly, Mid Council Ministries
Office of the General Assembly, Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Publishing Corporation

In the last quarter of the year we brought in 66 collections for more than 146 feet, including the records of 43 active and historical Presbyterian congregations from 13 states. For the year, we brought in 357 collections for more than 565 cubic feet, in line with our historical medians.

In the new year we look forward to helping the PC(USA) handle its business at General Assembly 224 in Baltimore, to the next steps in our Religious News Service and Community College of Philadelphia projects, and to your continued support of PHS, including our African American Congregations & Leaders and LGBTQIA+ History collecting initiatives. Stay tuned for more news of our work in the archives!