Get to Know PHS: Digitization | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Get to Know PHS: Digitization

June 21, 2023

Organized in 1852, the Presbyterian Historical Society is the oldest denominational archives in the United States and serves as the national archives for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations. Our collections are vast, but our robust digitization program—which preserves Presbyterian histories and congregation’s records—has made over 19,000 digital objects available online.

Accessing Presbyterian History Online

The Presbyterian Historical Society's digital collections, Pearl, is home to digitized and born-digital collections. Digital collections provide Presbyterians, congregations, researchers, and the general public with educational and inspirational resources that showcase Presbyterian and Reformed history and its relevance to American history and contemporary life.

Pearl Digital Collections are particularly focused on themes related to overseas and national mission work, ecumenical and interfaith activities, education, and social and political issues and activism. And in recent years, we’ve expanded Pearl to include collections related to our intentional collecting initiatives: The Pam Byers Memorial Collection—our LGBTQIA+ collecting initiative, and The African American Leaders and Congregations Collecting Initiative.

Click here to explore Pearl Digital Collections

Visit Pearl to view thematic collections like Church History and African American history.

What types of media can you find in Pearl?

Pearl Digital Collections is home to a wide variety of formats including images; digitized and born-digital records; manuscripts; rare books; sound recordings; and moving images. One highlight of the collection, which totals over 19,000 digital objects, is our set of 184 oral histories with significant Presbyterians.

Click here to watch and listen to oral histories with Presbyterians including Gayraud Wilmore, Dean Lewis, and Katie Cannon.

Digitizing Records for Churches and the Public

The Presbyterian Historical Society provides in-house digitization services for PC(USA) congregations, mid councils, and the general public. High quality digital facsimiles provide unlimited, remote access to collections and protect materials from damage and deterioration by eliminating the need to handle fragile originals.

This service, which offers special rates for PC(USA) congregations, provides digital images for researchers, PDFs of minutes and registers for churches, and so much more!

Click here to learn more about our digitization service

Financial Assistance for PC(USA) Congregations

PC(USA) congregations that are 50+ years old with 200 members or less may qualify for financial assistance to digitize their records. In order to be considered, churches requesting digitization must submit their most recent budget. PHS staff review and select applications for funding on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Click here to meet our Digital Collections Specialist. Click here to learn how you can support the work of the Presbyterian Historical Society. And click here to receive our monthly e-newsletter.