Our Work in the Archives, Third Quarter 2023 | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Our Work in the Archives, Third Quarter 2023

November 6, 2023

Let's look back at our work from over the summer!

We're pleased to have imaged select records of five churches via our African American Leaders and Congregations inititative: the Presbyterian Church of St. Albans (St. Albans, N.Y.), First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica (Queens, N.Y.), Hollis Presbyterian Church (Queens, N.Y.), Davie Street Presbyterian Church (Raleigh, N.C.), and Edisto Presbyterian Church (Edisto Island, S.C.). In partnership with First Presbyterian Church (Tulsa, Okla.), we imaged more than 1000 pages of correspondence and photographs from the Dwight Indian Training School (Marble City, Okla.), which were recently transferred to Tulsa as Dwight Camp and Conference Center property was returned to the Cherokee Nation.

In addition to the Queens churches imaged via AALC we built out our digital collections with records of the 1919 Korean Independence Movement and portions of the Eugene Carson Blake papers related to the planning of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. For the quarter, our Digital Collection Specialist Allison Davis, Archives Technician Amalia Cottrell, and our new RNS project archivists Isabella Fidanza and Megan Genovese, scanned more than 20,000 images and pages of text.

Copy of a telegram from the Board of Christian Education to John F. Kennedy, June 1963. RG 95, Box 15, Folder 6

For the quarter, we brought in 121 new accessions, amounting to more than 200 cubic feet of records and more than 2 terabytes of data. More than 77 cubic feet of records came in from PC(USA) congregations, 41 of them dissolved and 19 of them active and ongoing.

The largest group of the summer was original records of Lane Theological Seminary, transferred here from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Organized in 1829, Lane was an incubator of New School Presbyterianism, abolitionist sentiment, and theological modernism--the home of Lyman Beecher, Calvin Stowe, and Henry Preserved Smith. It merged into McCormick Theological Seminary in 1932. The records in hand here add to our earlier group of Lane records, RG 286, and include the original manuscript of the Auburn Declaration

Auburn Declaration draft, 1837, including the struckthrough "known only to Himself" before "which He has not revealed." From Accession 23-0809.

Processing Archivist Nick Skaggs published the finding aid for the Katie Geneva Cannon papers and processed the personal records of Ralph Carter, a Xerox engineer in Rochester, gay activist, and organizer of More Light congregations.

Records Archivist David Staniunas visited the Presbytery of Pittsburgh in September, delivering a minute for mission and packing records of the Presbyterian Media Mission. These include an appearance by Carol Weir on the radio program "Passages" on the abduction and captivity of her husband Ben. You can listen to that here

During the quarter, PHS staff responded to 589 reference questions, mainly on broad historical topics (109), mission history (62), and genealogy (71). Our in-person users spent 89 research-days on-site. Researchers visited from 17 different states as well as South Korea, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia to gain hands-on access to records of the UPCUSA Philippines Mission (RG 85), the PCUS Korea Mission (RG 444), and the Shedd family's images of Jewish town and country life from early 20th century Urmia. Questions also came in from 31 PC(USA) synods and presbyteries and from 56 PC(USA) congregations. You can view all of the 153 congregations we've served this year here.

See all the PC(USA) congregations we've served this year in this map.

Stay tuned to hear about how we closed the year, with special events and national appearances!