Our Work In The Archives, Fourth Quarter 2021 | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Our Work In The Archives, Fourth Quarter 2021

February 7, 2022
Boys playing softball, Prairie Mission (Wilcox County, Ala.) about 1950. 

Let's look back at the work your archivists are most proud of from the winter of 2021!

Our digitization team imaged more than 17,000 pages of text and images in the quarter, bringing us to more than 64,000 for the year. Recent additions to Pearl include original records of Harlem's St. James Presbyterian Church, the Prairie Mission School of Wilcox County, Alabama, and a group that we've styled the Racial Justice Collection--a curated collection of more than 100 publicly-accessible videos documenting Presbyterian responses to and accompaniment with the Black Lives Matter movement. The collection includes video of worship services and Bible studies, personal messages from pastors, and news coverage of Presbyterian responses to and with BLM from 2015 to 2021.


Rev. Oscar Sueing of Liberation Community Presbyterian Church (Memphis, Tenn.), in the BLM video collection

For the quarter we brought in 91 feet of original records in 68 groups, including 29 feet of records from 26 PC(USA) congregations. We also brought in several feet from the Presbytery of Long Island and the Synod of South Atlantic. As mid council leaders reckon with moving to remote office work and "paperless" recordkeeping, PHS steps in to smooth those transitions. We secure their permanent records, and digitize official minutes. If we haven't visited your presbytery recently, we'd love to drop in by videoconference to advise your recordkeepers. Contact Kristen Gaydos to schedule a PHS appearance at your next virtual presbytery meeting.

In all of 2021, we accessioned 455 cubic feet of records, only slightly off our long-term average of 525 feet. For the year, we were able to preserve the records of 149 congregations, amounting to 179 cubic feet. Once again congregations' records are the largest single category of incoming material to our holdings.

In the quarter we fielded 495 reference questions, including administrative, legal, and records keeping inquiries from 66 PC(USA) congregations and 38 mid councils. As the PC(USA) continues its season of reckoning with racism and injustice, PHS has been able to support individual congregations and presbyteries as they examine their own record. Among them, we helped an antiracism group from the Presbytery of Albany look into the failed merger of Troy's Black and white churches, Liberty Street and Oakwood Avenue, in 1963. Click here to read that story.


Watch Trinity's 50th anniversary celebration on YouTube.

Following up on prior requests, we were also in touch with an antiracism group of the Presbytery of Florida which is looking into the relationships among Tallahassee's Presbyterian congregations. One focus of their work is the Tallahassee bus boycott and the ouster of Metz Rollins from Trinity United Presbyterian Church, richly documented by the PCUS Board of Negro Work--the whole file is available here.

Watch this space for updates about our work in the first quarter of 2022, including news from our African American Leaders and Congregations initiative and the Pam Byers Memorial Collection.