Pearl Highlights: Halfway Through 2022 | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Pearl Highlights: Halfway Through 2022

July 18, 2022

With the midpoint of 2022 already here, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight some exciting additions to Pearl, our digital archives, from the year thus far.


Tehran Community School Digital Collection

Tehran Community School, 1940.

Our newest digital collection spotlights the Community School in Tehran, a Presbyterian boarding school from 1935 through 1980. The school initially began as a place for “mish kids” (children of Presbyterian missionaries) to go to, but eventually expanded to Americans of all backgrounds and English-speaking students of different nationalities and faiths. By the 1960s, Iranians constituted most of the student body. At its height in the 1970s, the Community School had 1,500 students attending each year.

The collection features photographs of the campus and building plans from its early formation. It also houses a series of oral histories with former teachers and students. To learn more about the Tehran Community School, be sure to check out this recent episode of PHS Live, which showcased alumni of the school in conversation with Matthew Shannon, Associate Professor of History at Emory & Henry College.

Johnson C. Smith School of Theology Theses

These Bachelor of Divinity theses, with publication dates ranging from 1948 to 1955, were written by students at the School of Theology at Johnson C. Smith University, a historically Black school in Charlotte, North Carolina. The papers vary in topic from histories of congregations, presbyteries, and synods to biographies of prominent Black Presbyterians.

Oral Histories Digital Collection

As stewards of Presbyterian history, we’re always collecting untold stories of prominent Presbyterians. We’ve recently added a number of oral histories to our ever-growing Oral Histories digital collection in Pearl, including:

  • Peter Oddleifson, an attorney who contributed to the national LGBTQ movement for equal ordination rights in the PC(USA), who was an early member of That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS).
  • Annanda Barclay, an advocate for intersectional justice in the PC(USA), who served as Co-Moderator of More Light Presbyterians, was a board member of the Spahr Reconciliation Initiative, and helped plan pastoral candidate retreats with Parity (formerly Presbyterian Welcome).
  • Eden Naby, an Assyrian-Iranian cultural historian of Central Asia and the Middle East, who grew up as a child of Presbyterian missionaries in Urmia and Golpashan. Eden provides testimony of the genocide of Assyrians during the First World War, as well as the transfer of mission schools to government control after 1934.
  • Ray Bagnuolo, an openly gay man minister and advocate for a fully inclusive church, who served as a leader in That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS).
  • Margaret E. “Peggy” Howland, a Presbyterian minister and reproductive justice activist, who organized the Clergy Consultation Service on Problem Pregnancies, a group of fourteen clergy who provided "all options" counseling to women seeking legal or safe abortion.
  • Michael Adee, the first Field Organizer (later called Executive Director) for More Light Presbyterians from 1999 to 2013.

General Assemblies Digital Collection

Moderators Harold R. Martin and Robert N. Montgomery shake hands during march at 1958 General Assembly meeting. 

Corresponding with the 225th General Assembly--which just wrapped up--we’ve made content from past assemblies available in our General Assemblies collection.  You’ll find celebratory photographs of the election of former Moderators, such as Jules Spach and Howard Rice.

You can also listen to a recording from the 176th UPCUSA General Assembly in which two white Presbyterian ministers, Rev. Alexander Stuart and Rev. Geddes Orman, recount the assault on their hotel room on the night of May 11th, 1964, in Camden, Alabama, following a meeting with representatives of four Black churches.

Zahrire d-bahra, 1897-1900

In 1829, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions established a mission to the Nestorian Christians in Urmia in northwest Persia. In 1871, the PCUSA's Board of Foreign Missions assumed responsibility for the American Board's mission station at Urmia, formally commencing Presbyterian work in Persia. Within a decade, the Persia Mission had expanded to include new stations at Teheran (1872), Tabriz (1873), and Hamadan (1880). Due to the vast distances between the stations, and language differences, the Persia Mission was divided in 1883 into West Persia Mission and East Persia Mission. The mission newspaper, Zahrire d-bahra, was published from 1849 to 1918.

Emergency Fund for Legal Aid for Racial and Intercultural Justice Records

Emergency Fund for Legal Aid for Racial and Intercultural Justice pamphlet, circa 1975-1983. 

You can now view content from one of our newly processed collections, the Emergency Fund for Legal Aid for Racial and Intercultural Justice Records (ELFA). Established by the 182nd General Assembly of the UPCUSA in 1970, the EFLA’s purpose was to provide financial grants to persons and groups engaged in litigation, research, and action in the field of equal justice. The newly digitized content includes publications, pamphlets, and correspondence related to cases where racial prejudice and discrimination combined with poverty and economic need to limit equal justice under law.

Covenant Network of Presbyterians Records

Letter from John M. Buchanan, August 1, 1997.

To help celebrate their 25th anniversary, we have digitized select records of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, an organization devoted to creating a more inclusive church for LGTBQIA+ Presbyterians and their families. These items document the formation of the organization, including correspondence between the founders, John M. Buchanan (Moderator of the 208th General Assembly), Robert Bohl (Moderator of the 206th General Assembly), Timothy Hart-Andersen, John Wilkinson, and Pamela (Pam) McLucas Byers.

Audio and Video Digital Collections

Thumbnail image for Senderos de esperanza : programas devocionales de cinco minutos con mensaje y musica.

Journey to Liberation: Featuring Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon, this video traces the legacy of womanist theology and ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Presbyterians Pro-Life present Mother Teresa, 1988: Recorded in connection with the 200th General Assembly, Mother Teresa delivered an anti-abortion speech, with support from the Presbyterians Pro-Life Research, Education, and Care, Inc.

The Good Gift of Hard Choices: A sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon at First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, likely in 2007.

Eugene Carson Blake speaking at John F. Kennedy memorial service, 1963: Meditation delivered by Dr. Eugene Carson Blake at a memorial service for President John F. Kennedy, held on the night the President had been scheduled to speak at the Sixth Assembly of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Senderos de esperanza : programas devocionales de cinco minutos con mensaje y musica: Features various speakers and performers, including Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez, the choir of the Evangelical Seminary of Matanzas, Cuba, the Miami Hispanic Methodist Church Quartet, Gilberto Rodriguez, and Rev. Max Salvador.

Black Women Clergy 25th Anniversary: Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon addresses the plenary in Dallas, Texas, 2013.


We have even more noteworthy additions to Pearl planned for the rest of the year, so be sure to check back!