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 many predecessor denominations. It exists to collect, preserve, and share the story of the American Presbyterian and Reformed experience with Presbyterians, the scholarly community, and the general public.
The society’s holdings include more than 250,000 titles reflecting the history of the Presbyterian tradition in America and over 30,000 cubic feet of official records and personal papers. These include records of congregations, presbyteries, synods, and General Assembly agencies of the current and some predecessor Presbyterian and Reformed denominations in America.
These records are supplemented by the personal papers (including correspondence, diaries, and photographs) of significant Presbyterians and ecumenists, with a particular emphasis on mission history in this country and abroad. The society also serves as the archives for ecumenical organizations including the Federal and National Council of Churches, the American Sunday School Union, and Religious News Service.
We invite you to use the PHS collections, online history resources, and services to study a range of topics including missionary work in Africa, India, Latin America, and the Far East; colonial Presbyterianism; religion in the South; women’s history; slavery and the anti-slavery movements; missions to freedmen; work among Native Americans; the First and Second Great Awakenings; Presbyterian involvement in the American Revolution and the New Republic; westward expansion; Alaska; the ecumenical movement; Civil Rights, as well as a host of other topics.
The Advisory Council of the Presbyterian Historical Society was created to offer advice and support to the Board of Directors and PHS staff in their mission to collect, preserve, and share the history of American Presbyterianism within the church at all levels and beyond.