The Religious News Service records, circa 1930s-1983, includes news releases, photographic prints, photographic negatives, press clippings, articles, and other materials produced and/or disseminated by the Religious News Service (RNS). The records document the history of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Eastern Orthodox religion in the United States and around the world. The bulk of the materials pertain to Protestant and Catholic communities, although attention is also given to Jewish and Eastern Orthodox groups. The records chronicle the "purely religious" activities of religious groups and personalities—gatherings, conferences, public speaking engagements, mergers, programs, institutions, and the like—as well as the intersections of religion and politics, society, and culture, both in the United States and abroad. Additionally, the collection itself stands as a marker of the media's representation of twentieth century American religious beliefs, values, and practices. Thus, researchers interested in American religious history, the relationship between religion and politics/society/culture, and the media's representation of religion in the twentieth century will find this collection useful.
The Religious News Service records are divided into the following record groups
RNS RG 1: Photographs, 1945-1982
RNS RG 2: News Releases, 1936-1981
RNS RG 3: Subject Files, circa 1930s-1983
RNS RG 4: Administrative Files, 1940s-1960s
Researchers should note that both RNS RG 2 and RNS RG 3 overlap significantly in content. Despite this overlap, the arrangement has a significant research benefit: researchers can access the information either by date in the "News Releases" record group or subject in the "Subject Files" record group. Please review the record group descriptions for more information.
RNS RG 2, News Releases, 1936-1981, contains news releases, articles, and other printed materials from the Religious News Service's (RNS) various products: "Daily News Services," "Religious News Reporter," "Week in Religion," and special features.
Generally, the materials in RNS RG 2 fall into a number of thematic groupings. These groupings include U.S. domestic politics and social issues (e.g., abortion, anti-Semitism, busing, federal legislation, gambling, labor unions, liquor control, marriage, nuclear proliferation, racial segregation, religious education, religious freedom, secular education, television, taxation, and U.S. presidents), international affairs (e.g., World War II, the Holocaust, the United Nations, refugees, the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, religious persecution, and the Vietnam War), events and developments in various U.S. states, events and developments in particular countries, activities and internal organization of churches and religious congregations (e.g., the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches, Jewish congregations, and Protestant denominations), religious trends and movements (e.g., evangelism, ecumenicalism, interfaith dialogue, Pentecostalism, women in the clergy, and the Jesus People Movement), religious organizations and conferences (e.g., the World Council of Churches, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Second Vatican Council), religious cults and minor sects, religious observances and holidays, and significant religious figures (e.g., Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr., Cardinal Francis Spellman, Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, and Carl McIntire).
Perhaps the most valuable portion of the collection is the "Daily News Services" series. More chronologically comprehensive than the other series, "Daily News Services" provides researchers interested in American religious history with substantial information about religion-related events, gatherings, personalities, and trends across much of the twentieth century.
Materials within this collection are arranged in four series: "Daily News Services," "Religious News Reporter," "Week in Religion," and "Special features."
The "Daily News Services, 1940-1980" series contains news release packets produced by the RNS's domestic and foreign news outlets. Through much of this period packets were produced daily except for Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Each packet contains a number of news stories. The series is arranged chronologically.
The "Religious News Reporter, 1939-1981" series contains radio scripts produced by the RNS. These scripts, published weekly, consist of religious news headlines and stories intended for use in radio news broadcasts. The series is arranged chronologically.
The "Week in Religion, 1938-1980" series contains long-form articles covering various trends and/or developments in United States and international religion. The releases were produced weekly by the RNS. The series is arranged chronologically.
The "Special features, 1936-1965" series contains articles, news releases, and other printed materials pertaining to the various special features published by RNS. Features of note include "Inspirational Editorials," "Religious Question Box," "Religious Remarkables" (cartoons depicting religious trends and topics), "Religious News Flashes," and file copies of a weekly column written by Reinhold Niebuhr from June 1946 to December 1948. These materials contain less reportage and more editorializing than the materials in the other series. This series is arranged alphabetically by feature title, then chronologically.