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What We Collect

As the national archives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Presbyterian Historical Society collects records of historic value from congregations, mid councils, and national agencies and provides records management services for PC(USA) entities. Learn more about our services for PC(USA) entities here.

Beyond our records management activities, many of the historic documents in our holdings have been donated by individuals and families who lived the history in those records, or by their descendants. The PHS Collecting Policy provides a detailed description of our collecting scope. PHS is committed to building an inclusive archive by confronting the gaps in our collecting and storytelling practices and diversifying the scope of our collections through intentional collecting practices. In this section, learn about our current collecting initiatives, the types of materials we accept from individuals and families, and how to donate historic materials to the society.

African American perspectives and experiences remain under-represented in the annals of Presbyterian history. This collecting initiative redoubles PHS's efforts to document Black lives, work, and witness in an increasingly multicultural Church—from the organization of the First African Presbyterian Church in 1807 to the election of the first African American stated clerk of the PC(USA) in 2016.

The forty-year movement for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the PC(USA) and its two predecessor denominations comprises a vital recent chapter of American history. In honor of Pam McLucas Byers, the first executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, in 2018 PHS launched the Pam Byers Memorial Fund and began collecting, preserving, and sharing stories from across the theological spectrum about ordination and marriage rights. Since then, this collecting initiative has expanded to more fully document LGBTQIA+ history in the church.

Our collections of personal papers document the works and ministries of individual servants of the church and society. Among these are mission coworkers, ecumenical and interfaith workers, community organizers and activists, sanctuary workers, and advocates for the imprisoned and impoverished. Learn more about donating materials in this section.