PHS in 2023
At the end of such a full year, I think everyone at PHS is looking forward to a break over the holidays before we launch into 2024. I hope you also have moments for peaceful reflection, rest, and rejuvenation this holiday season.
For me, 2023 was a year of travel, visiting with Presbyterians in Dallas-Fort Worth, the Twin Cities, and Southern California to name but three stops. I shared about our work on a new mission statement for PHS that emphasizes how our extensive collections and archival work combine to further the transformative power of history in the PC(USA) and wider community. Because we serve all levels of the church, PHS is a vital part of the connective tissue that unites us in our work for justice, freedom, and peace.
Throughout the year, PHS staff members continued to bring in and describe collection materials, assist researchers, dig into the archives to lift up hidden histories, digitize everything from session minutes to reel-to-reel audio tapes, maintain our building, and provide the financial and fundraising support that allows PHS to thrive.
We also continued our collaboration with Community College of Philadelphia, hosting two student interns and a number of classes. And, as part of our continuing African American Leaders and Congregations Collecting Initiative, we digitized records of nine historically Black Presbyterian congregations.
Two “extra-ordinary” things stand out this year. In April, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded PHS a $330K grant to digitize and preserve the Religious News Service photographs in our collection. The grant money has allowed us to hire two project archivists to scan, describe, and rehouse the 60,000 images.
The second significant event of the year occurred in October when PHS hosted a reception to celebrate the completion of the Katie Geneva Cannon Digital Collection. Three institutions contributed archival materials to the digital collection (PHS, Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, and Union Theological Seminary in New York City), and it was a joy to bring together representatives from all three organizations plus members of Dr. Cannon’s family and some of her close friends and supporters to honor Katie Cannon’s legacy and the digitization of her papers.
We are grateful for everyone who contributed to PHS in 2023 with their presence at our events, their donations of records, their use of our reference and digitization services, and most importantly, their belief that archives and history are equally important for understanding the past and navigating the present and future. If you have not already done so, we welcome your year-end financial gift as well. Your donations help sustain our work and expand its reach in the PC(USA) and wider community.