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Now Processed: Church World Service Records

July 26, 2021
Logo for Church World Service used in 1980s CWS annual reports

The Church World Service Records have been processed as Record Group 529 and the guide to the records is now available:

In 1946, seventeen denominations formed Church World Service (CWS) as a relief agency. Churches throughout the United States provided over 11 million pounds of food and medical supplies to communities in Europe and Asia that were affected by World War II. 

Annual reports included in the Church World Service Records [RG 529]

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, CWS expanded its work into Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The mission of the organization shifted from providing immediate disaster relief to creating long-term development projects in partnership with local communities. CWS often partnered with other NGOs, local churches, and ecumenical organizations. Many of these partnerships led to new organizations forming such as the Middle East Council of Churches, the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh, and the Council of Evangelical Churches for Denominational Alliance in Nicaragua. You can read more about the history of how Church World Service formed in the guide to the CWS records.

Radio production crews in Nairobi, Kenya [RG 529, Box 89, Folder 7]

The processed collection totals 119 boxes. The scope of the collection is expansive, covering the work of CWS across five continents. The materials are primarily in English, but there are copies of newspapers, annual reports, and letters in other languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Finnish, Dutch, and Russian.

Click the video above to hear more about the Church World Service Collection. 

The collection includes six series. Series I, Area Offices, 1947-1999, documents the work of each of the six area offices at the National Council of Churches of Christ headquarters in New York: the East Asia and the Pacific Office, the South Asia Office, the Africa Office, the Middle East Office, the Europe Office, and the Latin America and the Caribbean Office. This series includes subject files on each country, newsletters documenting the work of NGOs or local ecumenical groups, trip reports by CWS staff, and materials created by Amnesty International such as reports of human rights violations. 

Intermedia newsletter, November 1976 [RG 529]

Series II, Executive Director Files, 1946-2000, contains correspondence from executive directors and official meeting minutes from CWS committees.

Series III, Intermedia, Photographs, and CWS Publications, 1911-2000, contains communication files and publications created by Church World Service. There are slides of Intermedia presentations, conferences, and literacy projects, and five boxes of filmstrips. The photographs include albums and scrapbooks documenting vocational training projects, schools, refugee aid efforts, and relief distribution.

Series IV, Disaster Response, 1972-1994, consists of correspondence, reports, and news clippings documenting natural disasters in the United States and the ecumenical relief efforts that followed.

Negatives of Incateco cement workers' strike in Honduras, 1970s [RG 529, Box 103, Folder 13]

Series V, the Burned Churches Project, 1988-1998, contains project proposals, church data sheets, and accounting records from the NCC project to help rebuild African American churches that were burned. Read more about the Burned Churches Project here

Series VI, Disarmament, Development, and Militarization, 1972-1988, contains subject files created by the Task Force on Militarization in Asia and the Pacific.

Click here to access the guide to the Church World Service Records and read more about the contents of each series or use Ctrl F to search through the collection inventory.