Mission

The mission of the Virginia Theological Seminary Archives is to serve the seminary community by collecting, preserving, and making available through open and equitable access: the institutional records of Virginia Theological Seminary and Bishop Payne Divinity School; the papers of prominent individuals of the two organizations; and the holdings of the African American Episcopal Historical Collection (AAEHC). The AAEHC, charged with documenting the Black experience in the Episcopal Church, is a joint project of VTS and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

Collections

  • VTS Personal Papers
    The VTS Archives contains personal papers and collections of prominent members of the VTS community. Other manuscript collections document the Episcopal Church at the national, regional, diocesan, and/or local level. Subject areas of depth include VTS professors of the second half of the 20th century, 19th-century Virginia Episcopal sermons, 19th-century Virginia clergymen, and Episcopal Church liturgical development during the 20th century.
     
  • Bishop Payne Divinity School
    Bishop Payne Divinity School (BPDS) was founded in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1878, to prepare Black men for ministry in the Episcopal Church. BPDS closed in 1949 but later merged with Virginia Theological Seminary in 1951. At that time, VTS inherited its records and the responsibility to preserve its history. The VTS Archives is the official repository for the records of Bishop Payne Divinity School and collects the papers of its alumni, faculty, as well as individuals and information important to its history.

    Bishop Payne Divinity School was named in honor of the Rt. Rev. John Payne (VTS 1836), first Missionary Bishop to Liberia. Bishop Payne Library is named in honor of the Divinity School to keep alive its memory and heritage.
     
  • VTS Records
    The VTS Archives preserves the official records and documents related to the trustees, deans, faculty, faculty committees, offices, administrators, and student organizations of Virginia Theological Seminary. These records span the entire history of VTS from before its founding in 1823 to the present time; they include institutional publications, photographs, sound recordings, film, and video. The holdings of seminary records are mostly complete from 1955 to the present.

Using the Collections

Prior to accessing the collections, all researchers must complete a Request for Use and Research Policies form and acknowledge receipt and compliance with the reading room policies, and present picture proof of identification, such as a valid driver’s license. The signed Request for Use and Research Policies form and a copy of one’s identification will be kept on file at the Archives.

All archival materials shall be used within the Archives reading area, under the supervision of the Archivist or an Archives/Library representative. The Archives are open by appointment only, and closed weekends and holidays. The collection stacks areas are closed to all researchers.

 

 

Mission

The mission of the African American Episcopal Historical Collection (AAEHC), a joint project of VTS and the , is to collect and preserve the stories, experiences, and perspectives of Black Episcopalians.  The AAEHC gathers letters, journals, photographs, sermons, oral histories, writings, records, and similar materials from Black individuals and organizations and others working with people of African descent in the Episcopal Church.  To support and encourage use of the collection, the AAEHC offers travel grants annually.

Collection

The AAEHC is home to dozens of different collections, from the personal papers of prominent Black Episcopalians to recorded oral histories and everything in-between. These collections include photographs, videos, letters, diaries, sermons, and much more. Some collections are quite large, and some are smaller, but each one offers a unique insight to the history of African Americans in the Episcopal Church.  All are welcome to conduct research in the AAEHC.

Partnership

The AAEHC is a cooperative effort of the  and the Bishop Payne Library here at Virginia Theological Seminary. The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church was founded in 1910 to further the understanding of church history among those interested in the Episcopal Church.  The Historical Society publishes a journal (Anglican and Episcopal History), sponsors a book series (the University of Illinois Press Studies in Anglican History), and organizes historical conferences.  Members of the Historical Society began to discuss the possibility of the African American Episcopal Historical Collection in the 1990s and to gather materials for the collection in 2000.

In December 2002, the Historical Society and the Virginia Theological Seminary agreed jointly to sponsor the AAEHC.  VTS, which is the second oldest and largest of the Episcopal seminaries in the United States, has had a long-standing interest in ministry by and among African Americans.  From 1878 through 1949, the Bishop Payne Divinity School in Petersburg, Virginia, was the primary institution for the education of African American candidates for Episcopal ministry.  Bishop Payne Divinity School merged with Virgnia Theological Seminary in 1953.  The VTS library was later named Bishop Payne Library in honor and memory of the former divinity school.

Oral History Program

The AAEHC actively conducts pertinent oral history interviews to document the lives and experiences of Black Episcopalians in the first person.  If you know of subjects and are interested in contributing to the AAEHC Oral History Program by conducting interviews, please see the program Guidelines and contact AAEHC staff at .

Travel Grant Program

Thanks to a generous grant from the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, travel reimbursement grants are available to individuals who would like to use the AAEHC for research. Faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, independent researchers, and Episcopal clergy and laypersons are encouraged to apply. Funds may be used for transportation, meals, lodging, photocopying, and other research costs.

 

 

AAEHC Research Guides

Black Episcopalians Research Guide

This bibliography was compiled primarily to provide assistance to researchers in locating information in The Bishop Payne Library collection about the lives and experiences of prominent African American Episcopalians, from 1746 to 2012. The individuals represented herein include ordained ministers, lay theologians, business people, and educators. Whatever their field, they all shared a strong commitment to, and were active in, the Episcopal Church. Particular emphasis has been placed on sources pertaining to graduates of The Bishop Payne Divinity School and The Virginia Theological Seminary.

Allan Rohan Crite Research Guide

The Allan Rohan Crite Research Guide lists and briefly describes all of the works by and about Crite at Virginia Theological Seminary, including artworks displayed on campus and artworks and printed works in the Bishop Payne Library. The guide includes the entirety of the Allan Rohan Crite Collection (RG A24) in the African American Episcopal Historical Collection.

Seminary Archives

The Virginia Theological Seminary Archives is the honored recipient of gifts of manuscript collections, personal papers, and historical documents from generous alumni, faculty, and friends throughout its history. These gifts have enriched the collections immeasurably, helping us to document VTS’s history, ministry, and influence throughout the Anglican Communion. Gifts of papers and documents pertaining to the Bishop Payne Divinity School augment the fragmentary remaining official records.

The Archives continues to accept donations of materials that further its mission.  Persons desiring to make a contribution to the collection should contact the Archives.

Forms

Archives Transmittal Form
Archives Sample Deed of Gift


African American Episcopal Historical Collection (AAEHC)

Each donation helps to enlarge the historical documentation of the experience of African American Episcopalians in the Episcopal Church. These records are maintained as primary sources for education and research. Each year these collections are consulted by a growing number of researchers. With the donation of each new collection, we are able to increase the breadth and depth of our resources to better serve the educational needs of the Virginia Theological Seminary and of scholars who are drawn to our collections. There are three different ways of donating to the AAEHC: donating a collection, donating an oral history, and donating a monetary gift.

How to Donate

Collection donation is the best way to support the work of the AAEHC and augment the resources about Black folks in the Episcopal Church.  Donating a collection is the legal transfer of pertinent archival materials to the AAEHC. AAEHC staff will process, preserve, and make available to researchers all collections that are donated to the archives. If considering donating your personal papers, institutional records, oral histories, and/or ephemera, we want to hear from you. Please contact AAEHC staff at AskAAEHC@vts.edu or 703.461.1752.
Monetary Gifts

Monetary Gifts

Persons or groups interested in helping preserve this history are invited and encouraged to make a monetary gift.  All funds go to the collection, arrangement, and conservation of the holdings of the AAEHC. Monetary gifts can be made here.  Please specify the African American Episcopal Historical Collection when making contributions. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

For questions regarding monetary gifts, please contact the Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Linda Dienno at ldienno@vts.edu or 703.461.1717.

Forms

Archives Transmittal Form
Archives Sample Deed of Gift
AAEHC Sample Deed of Gift

Seminary Archives

The Seminary Archives collections are available for research by appointment only and researchers are highly encouraged to contact archives staff to determine the availability of materials and schedule an appointment.

For general reference:

AskArchives@vts.edu

Mailing Address:

VTS Archives
Virginia Theological Seminary, Box 159
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304

On Campus:

The Archives office is located on the lower level of Bishop Payne Library.


African American Episcopal Historical Collection (AAEHC)

The collections of the AAEHC are available for research by appointment only and researchers are highly encouraged to contact AAEHC staff to determine the availability of materials and schedule an appointment.

For general reference:

AskAAEHC@vts.edu

703.461.1752

Mailing Address:

AAEHC
Virginia Theological Seminary, Box 159
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304

On Campus:

The AAEHC is located in the Seminary Archives on the lower level of Bishop Payne Library.