Our Work in the Archives, Fourth Quarter 2023 | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Our Work in the Archives, Fourth Quarter 2023

February 28, 2024

Let's dig in to the work of your archivists in the fall and winter of 2023!

We had a quiet quarter of new accessions to end the year: 60.54 feet in 83 groups, among them 29 feet of records from 32 active and dissolved congregations. We brought in seven feet and 250MB of personal papers in the quarter, including the work of Liz Knott, a Presbyterian advocate for Palestine, an oral history with Rev. Cedric Portis of Third Presbyterian Church (St. Louis, Mo.), and records from Rev. Jude Michaels, a Presbyterian minister active in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. For the year, we brought in 622.06 cubic feet of records in 379 groups. The largest single category (as usual!) was congregation records, at 254.65 cubic feet from 204 active and historic churches.

In the fourth quarter, we hosted 52 researchers, including global partners from the Overseas Ministries Study Center at Princeton Theological Seminary’s Residential Study Program. Researchers used our holdings to learn about mission schools in New Mexico, as well as the U.S. Senate chaplain Peter Marshall. Additionally, the Presbytery of Baltimore and the Presbytery of Lake Erie consulted us to undertake restorative justice actions in their communities. We fielded 493 questions in the quarter, including 41 congregations’ inquiries.

194 PC(USA) congregations asked us for help in 2023. You can navigate around this map here.

Elaine and Maura cataloged 507 new books and bound periodicals in the quarter, including significant additions to the Foreign Mission Library collection. Nick finished processing 59 boxes of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, whose work included the filmstrip “I Hope They Don’t Bomb My Lily Pad.”

I hope they don't bomb my lily pad : peacemaking, a child's view, about 1982.

Our digitization team, including RNS project archivists Isabella and Megan, shot 14,650 images in the quarter, putting us over 70,000 photos and pages of text for the year. We finished free digitization projects for three churches in our African American Leaders and Congregations program; ten churches joined us in AALC this year. New additions to our digital collections include records of Oklahoma’s Dwight School, imaged as a courtesy to First Presbyterian Church (Tulsa, Okla.) which holds records of that Presbyterian native boarding school; oral history interviews with former stated clerk Cliff Kirkpatrick; and UPCUSA staff interviews with Malcolm X, taken months before his assassination.

In October, we celebrated the completion of the Katie Geneva Cannon digital collection. We welcomed dozens of visitors to the event, including members of the Cannon familyand various dignitaries, including General Assembly co-moderator Shavon Starling-Louis, President of Union Theological Seminary Serene Jones, Melanie Jones Quarles of The Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership, Brian Blount former president of Union, and others.

In November, three PHS staffers traveled to southern California, where they met with congregations in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Claremont. While there, they spoke with folks from three presbyteries and recorded testimonials from some of our longtime supporters.

Watch this space in the spring as we continue to bring new collections in, bring new collections online, and put people and collections together!