In 2003 the African American Episcopal Historical Collection was established at the Virginia Theological Seminary Archives as a joint project with the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church. Through documents, institutional records, oral histories, personal papers, and photographs, the collection documents the experience of African American Episcopalians in the U.S. Individual collections contain significant references to religious faith and involvement in the Episcopal Church, particularly at the regional, diocesan, and local levels.
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. For more information visit the AAEHC website.
The African American Episcopal Historical Collection is a joint project of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and the Virginia Theological Seminary. The collections are housed in the Bishop Payne Library of the Seminary.
Episcopal News Service, January 8, 2003
Under an agreement between Virginia Theological Seminary and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, the seminary's library in Alexandria, Virginia as been designated as the home for the documents illustrating the history of the church's African Americans.
In the new archival project, the African American Episcopal Collection will include a variety of media--oral histories, institutional records and other documents, as well as photographs--chronicling the lives and experiences of blacks in the church. The agreement also includes a plan to expand the collection, obtain additional funding and materials, and improve its accessibility. This summer the library will construct additional archival space to accommodate the collection.
The seminary library is named in honor of the Bishop Payne Divinity School, a seminary for the education of African and African American Episcopalians that merged with Virginia Seminary in 1953. The primary goal of the new collection is to make its materials available for both scholarly research and education of the wider church.
Episcopal News Service, February 18, 2005
The African American Episcopal Historical Collection will be formally dedicated in a ceremony at Virginia Theological Seminary, in Alexandria, on Thursday, February 24, at 1:30 pm. The African American Historical Collection solicits, preserves, and makes available for research and public education unique documentary evidence of the African American experience in the Episcopal Church of the United States and its colonial antecedents. These collections consist of written and printed documents, audio and visual recordings, and photographs.
The keynote speaker for the dedication will be Bishop Herbert Thompson, of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, and preaching will be the Rev. Canon Angela Ifill, missioner for the Episcopal Church Center’s Office of Black Ministries.
The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and the Bishop Payne Library of the Virginia Theological Seminary, in December 2002, agreed to jointly sponsor the Collection.
Virginia Theological Seminary, which is the second oldest and the largest of the Episcopal seminaries in the United States, has had a long standing interest in ministry by and among African Americans. From 1878-1949 the Bishop Payne Divinity School, in Petersburg, Virginia, was the primary institution for the education of African American candidates for the Episcopal ministry. Bishop Payne Divinity School merged with Virginia Theological Seminary in 1953. The seminary’s library was later named in honor and in memory of the former divinity school.
Donations of appropriate archival materials from African American individuals and/or organizations or others working with African Americans in the Episcopal Church are encouraged. All donations are documented by a Deed of Gift transferring full title to the Historical Collection. For further information, on donating material contact Julia Randle or Margaret L. Lewis at 703-461-1850 and 703-461-1732 respectively.
Monetary donations may be sent to Virginia Theological Seminary, 3737 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22304, earmarked for the African American Episcopal Historical Collection.