The Presbyterian Historical Society holds archival records, books and serials, and artifacts that document the history of the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition in America. Collection emphases include church legal and administrative decisions; religion and life in Colonial America; the American Revolution; the First and Second Great Awakenings; missionary work among the Asians, Africans, and Native Americans; the New Republic; the Civil War and Reconstruction; Westward expansion; Civil Rights and other race issues; social justice issues; and ecumenical movements.
Holdings consist of the official records of the denomination and its predecessor denominations created by General Assembly agencies, mid councils, and congregations. These include minutes, registers, reports, files, and other material, as well as publications of the General Assembly and its predecessors and imprints of the various boards of publication. Other archival records include those of Presbyterian-related organizations and related ecumenical organizations such as the Federal and National Council of Churches, and the American Sunday School Union. To supplement the official record, the Society also collects the personal papers (including correspondence, diaries, and photographs) of Presbyterians who are significant for their service to the church, with an emphasis on mission work.
Books and Periodicals
Both offices contain extensive collections of secondary material documenting the Presbyterian and Reformed heritage in the United States and the international activities of American Presbyterians. The collections include early imprints of the foundation documents of the Reformed tradition, such as Calvin's Institutes, a range of Bibles, and books on Presbyterian and Reformed history and biography.
Museum holdings include paintings and sculpture, silver and pewter communion ware, one of the largest communion token collections in the world, and artifacts from all over the country and the world--all documenting the history of the church and its work. Exhibit spaces feature just a fraction of the extensive collection.
These holdings currently total approximately 30,000 cubic feet of archival records and personal papers; c. 250,000 monographs, serials, and rare books; and a museum collection that includes approximately 250 paintings and over 25,000 communion tokens.
Gifts of Collections