Pearl Digital Collections: 2022 Highlights | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Pearl Digital Collections: 2022 Highlights

December 14, 2022
Stony Point Center, circa 1960s-1990s. Pearl ID: islandora:293097.

As 2022 winds down, we’re excited to highlight some of the additions to Pearl, our digital archives, from the year.


This year, we have two new additions to our over 70 curated digital collections.

Church World Service Records

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. This newly formed digital collection primarily contains photographs of CWS relief work, including the aftermath of Hurricane Fifi in Honduras and a series of images from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

A U.S. Army Helicopter from the Canal Zone on loan to Caritas, Honduras brings Catholic Relief Services supplies to isolated villages hit by Hurricane Fifi in the Sula Valley. Pearl ID: islandora:281882.

Tehran Community School Digital Collection

This digital collection spotlights the Community School of 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 of the school.


In support of our ongoing African American Leaders and Congregations Collecting Initiative, PHS has been actively digitizing records that help illuminate the Black Presbyterian experience. Below are some of the new additions to our African American history digital collection in Pearl.

Rev. Dr. James H. Costen at the 209th General Assembly in Syracuse, New York, June 1997. Pearl ID: islandora:300395.

Sermons of Rev. Milton Galamison. Galamison was pastor of Siloam Presbyterian Church and organizer of a 1964 New York City boycott in which hundreds of students marched through Harlem in protest of the continued segregation of the city public schools and the mistreatment of Black and Puerto Rican children.

African American Presbyterian congregational histories, compiled by Darius L. Swann.

Records of Stillman Institute (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), a historically Black Presbyterian school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In 1951, it became a four-year university and changed its name to Stillman College. The digitized records include trustees’ minutes, publications, reports, and correspondence.

Records of two predominantly African American congregations: Westminster Presbyterian Church (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Faith Presbyterian Church (Germantown, Pa.)

Sermons of John Morton Ellis, a Presbyterian minister and civil rights activist.

Johnson C. Smith School of Theology theses, ranging from 1948-1955, 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.

Clinton Marsh interviewed by Lawrence Bottoms, 1990. Clinton Marsh had the honor of being the second Black man to serve as Moderator of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1973. Lawrence Bottoms also had a formidable career serving the church, including being the first Black man to serve as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the United States in 1974. 


Katie Geneva Cannon Digital Collection

Katie Geneva Cannon, 1997. Pearl ID: islandora:171121.

In 2022, PHS made progress on our inter-institutional effort to publish the personal records of the founding voice of womanist theology, Katie Geneva Cannon. The collaboration with the Center for Womanist Leadership, Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, and The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary (Columbia University Libraries) will continue next year when the final portion of Cannon's records will be scanned and made available by Summer 2023.

View the Katie Geneva Cannon Digital Collection here.

Read more about the project here.


PHS staff had a busy year processing new collections to make the records of individuals and groups easier to access for researchers and fans of Presbyterian history. You can now view digital content from these newly processed collections.

Cecil Corbett Papers

Rev. Dr. Cecil Elwood Corbett ("Speaking Eagle") was a Presbyterian and member of the Nez Percé Tribe of Idaho. Corbett served the UPCUSA and the PC(USA) in a variety of ways, including his role as “Consultant for Ministries with Indians.”

Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity

Created at the 213th General Assembly, the task force sought to discover ways the church could live more faithfully during conflicts and disagreements around biblical interpretation and ordination standards-- which included sexual orientation.

David and Polly Miller Papers

David and Polly Miller served as PCUS and PC(USA) missionaries in Africa for decades. Primarily serving in the Congo, they were firsthand witnesses to a transformative period in the country’s political history.

Rev. Dave Miller with Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan in Lesotho, circa 1980. Pearl ID: islandora:293607.

Emergency Ministry on Conscience and War Records

Established in 1969 by the UPCUSA in response to a 1968 General Assembly pronouncement to initiate a study on the church’s involvement in conscientious objection to the Vietnam War, the Emergency Ministry on Conscience and War sought to provide impartial aid to draft registrants and their families.

James and Melva Costen Papers

James Costen served as moderator of the 194th and 195th general assemblies of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., dean of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and as president of the Interdenominational Theological Center and worked with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

Melva Wilson Costen served as director of music of the Church of the Master Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, was a faculty member of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and directed the choir during the reuniting service of the UPCUSA and the PCUS at the 195th General Assembly in 1983.

Emergency Fund for Legal Aid for Racial and Intercultural Justice Records

Established by the 182nd General Assembly of the UPCUSA in 1970, the Emergency Fund for Legal Aid for Racial and Intercultural Justice’s purpose was to provide financial grants to persons and groups engaged in litigation, research, and action in the field of equal justice.


Summer 2022 witnessed the historic 225th General Assembly of the PC(USA), which was held hybrid online and in-person in Louisville, Kentucky. To correspond with this celebration, we have new digitized content in our Presbyterian General Assemblies digital collection.

202nd General Assembly, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 1990. Pearl ID: islandora:299882.

Thelma Adair photographs from her year as moderator of the UPCUSA in 1976.

Behind the scenes of GA, June 2002. A behind the scenes look at the 214th General Assembly held in Columbus, Ohio.

Opening worship, 214th General Assembly, 2002.

Fahed Abu-Akel moderator tape, 2002. The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel is the first Arab-American to lead a major U.S. denomination.

Howard Rice photographs from his year as moderator of the UPCUSA in 1979.

Jule Spach photographs from his year as moderator of the PCUS in 1976.

202nd General Assembly, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 1990. These photographs from a past GA feature incoming moderator Price H. Gwynn III and outgoing moderator Rev. Joan Campbell Salmon. We are already looking forward to GA 226, which will be held in Salt Lake City in 2024!


This past year, PHS continued its commitment to expanding the Pam Byers Memorial Collection, which documents all sides and perspectives on the forty-year movement for gay ordination and LGBTQ marriage rites in the church.

You can now listen to firsthand accounts of this movement in our LGBTQIA+ history digital collection. In this collection you can explore the oral histories of Chris Glaser, an openly gay minister who served as the founding director of the Lazarus Project; Bertram Johnson, the first openly gay African American to be ordained as a pastor in the PC(USA); as well as others involved in the movement for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the PC(USA).

Covenant Network of Presbyterians Records

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.

Press release announcing the formation of the Covenant Network, August 15, 1997. Pearl ID: islandora:286188.


Pearl has grown so much in the past year, with over 1,400 new objects added. Below are just a few additions to our existing digital collections.

Mission History


  • American Indian Institute records. This institute, founded by Henry Roe Cloud in 1915, was a Native American-run college preparatory school in Wichita, Kansas. The records include correspondence, reports, financial documents, and property records.
  • Mackenzie College annual reports, 1899-1906. Annual reports of the presidents to the Board of Trustees of Mackenzie College in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Pamphlet from the Texas Migrant Ministry collection, 1952-1980 and undated, Austin Seminary Archives, Wright Learning and Information Center, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Pearl ID: islandora:293981.

Church history

Global Village at Stony Point Center, 1987. Pearl ID: islandora:293019.

Social and political issues and activism

  • La Frontera (1982).  Program on the people, economics, and social relations of the Mexico-USA border regions, jointly produced by the Rockefeller Foundation, the California Public Broadcasting Commission, and the Project on United States-Mexico Relations of Stanford University.
  • Mary Ann Lundy oral history. Lundy reflects on her involvement in the Sanctuary movement.

Religious News Service Photograph Collection

Thanks goes out to the many hands and minds that helped Pearl Digital Collections grow over the past year and to the generous donors whose support makes this work possible. Make your year-end gift today and help us make Presbyterian history digitally available for fans around the world. See you all in 2023!