Vietnam War Resources | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Vietnam War Resources

October 13, 2017
Covers of Presbyterian periodicals at PHS containing articles about the Vietnam War.

The Ken Burns and Lynne Novick documentary, The Vietnam War, has inspired us[1] to share information about our collection materials that pertain to the war.

Both the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) and the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) reflected upon and studied the conflict vis-à-vis Christian ethics. Both predecessor denominations to the PC(USA) also issued policies, statements, and recommendations that voiced deep concern for the socio-political issues surrounding the war and its aftermath.

Information about the Vietnam War is contained in several groups of archival records deposited in our holdings. The UPCUSA Emergency Ministry on Conscience and War Records (RG 410) and the PCUS’s Division of Church and Society Records (RG 503), for example, document each denomination’s efforts to educate its members and help make sense of the practical and theological challenges of the war. Presbyterian work related to the war is also included in the records of ecumenical organizations held at the Society, such as the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

A Declaration of Conscience, 1967. Accession number 82 0126, box 6. Click here for full image.

Pearl, our digital archives, includes photographs of anti-war activities and audio recordings, such as a 1968 sermon and question-and-answer session on the war delivered at the Rivermont Presbyterian Church (Lynchburg, Va.) by pastor Calvin Thielman.

"NCC Draft Lottery," 1969. [Pearl ID: ds548]

Our online catalog, CALVIN, describes additional materials helpful for those interested in the Presbyterian response to the Vietnam War. Furthermore, we hold a complete run of the Minutes of the General Assembly of both the UPCUSA and the PCUS that provide details on the positions, actions, and reports of the Churches relating to the conflict.   

UPCUSA General Assembly Minutes, 1970.

These resources provide a beginning point to learn about Presbyterian involvement in this painful chapter of American history. We invite you to explore further using our online catalogs and research tools, and to contact us directly with any specific questions.

[1] Special thanks to Bruce Gillette for encouraging us to share resources on this topic.