AALC Collecting Update | Presbyterian Historical Society

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AALC Collecting Update

December 15, 2022

We’re excited to share this year’s progress in our efforts to document and lift up the work and witness of Black Presbyterians through the African American Leaders and Congregations Collecting Initiative.

Over the summer, we partnered with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library to digitize more than 300 pages of sermons from civil rights leader Milton Arthur Galamison, organizer of the 1964 boycott of New York city public schools.

Milton Galamison sermons, Jan.-Nov. 1963. [Pearl ID: islandora:288430].

We continue to make progress on the digitization of Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon’s personal papers through our inter-institutional collaboration with the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary (Columbia University Libraries) and the Center for Womanist Leadership at Union Presbyterian Seminary. In August, PHS staff completed scanning and digitizing the portion of records found at the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary (Columbia University Libraries). Since the collaboration began in 2021, we’ve published more than 8100 pages of text and images of Dr. Cannon’s in one digital collection. We look forward to completing the project in 2023.

Drawing of Katie G. Cannon, artist unknown. 1970. [Pearl ID: islandora:171125].

This year, we also worked with Pittsburgh Theological Seminary to digitize radio worship broadcasts of Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, including this one from 1956.

We bear an ongoing commitment to sponsor free digitization of African American Presbyterian records. Since 2020, eleven African American Presbyterian congregations have joined our initiative, spanning the country from Los Angeles to Detroit, from Harlem to Tallahassee. This year, we’ve imaged the records of:

  • Westminster Presbyterian Church (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Faith Presbyterian Church (Germantown, Pa.)
  • Capital Presbyterian Church (Harrisburg, Pa.)
  • Siloam Hope First Presbyterian Church (Elizabeth, N.J.)
  • St. John's Presbyterian Church (Detroit, Mich.)
  • Oak Grove Presbyterian Church (Amelia, Va.)

Over the fall we brought in and fully processed the personal papers of Jim and Melva Costen, significant Presbyterians each in their own right -- Jim as moderator of the UPCUSA at reunion, Melva as a scholar of Black worship and music. We’re immensely grateful to Craig and Cheryl Costen for entrusting their parents’ records to us.

Moderator James Costen at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1982. [Pearl ID: islandora:300392].

As ever, we rely on you to support this work. Historically African American congregations can contact us about digitization and care for their original records. Prominent African American church workers, please take a moment to think of your sermons, essays, photographs, audio and videotapes.

Everyone can help support the African American Leaders and Congregations Collecting Initiative by making a financial donation to PHS. Click here to make your gift and select "African American Leaders and Congregations" in the donation menu.

It’s our responsibility to make the archives reflect the whole of the church, and we can’t do it without you.