Get to Know PHS: Digitization
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 its predecessor denominations. Our collections are vast, but our robust digitization program—which preserves Presbyterian histories and congregation’s records—has made over 19,000 digital objects available online.
Accessing Presbyterian History Online
The Presbyterian Historical Society's digital collections, Pearl, is home to digitized and born-digital collections. Digital collections provide Presbyterians, congregations, researchers, and the general public with educational and inspirational resources that showcase Presbyterian and Reformed history and its relevance to American history and contemporary life.
Pearl Digital Collections are particularly focused on themes related to overseas and national mission work, ecumenical and interfaith activities, education, and social and political issues and activism. And in recent years, we’ve expanded Pearl to include collections related to our intentional collecting initiatives: The Pam Byers Memorial Collection—our LGBTQIA+ collecting initiative, and The African American Leaders and Congregations Collecting Initiative.
What types of media can you find in Pearl?
Pearl Digital Collections is home to a wide variety of formats including images; digitized and born-digital records; manuscripts; rare books; sound recordings; and moving images. One highlight of the collection, which totals over 19,000 digital objects, is our set of 184 oral histories with significant Presbyterians.
Digitizing Records for Churches and the Public
The Presbyterian Historical Society provides in-house digitization services for PC(USA) congregations, mid councils, and the general public. High quality digital facsimiles provide unlimited, remote access to collections and protect materials from damage and deterioration by eliminating the need to handle fragile originals.
This service, which offers special rates for PC(USA) congregations, provides digital images for researchers, PDFs of minutes and registers for churches, and so much more!
Financial Assistance for PC(USA) Congregations
PC(USA) congregations that are 50+ years old with 200 members or less may qualify for financial assistance to digitize their records. In order to be considered, churches requesting digitization must submit their most recent budget. PHS staff review and select applications for funding on a rolling basis throughout the year.