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Bishop Payne Library

African American Episcopal Historical Collection

Welcome to the AAEHC! 

If you have any questions about the Collection or about doing research, please contact us directly or send an email to our general mailbox: AskAAEHC@vts.edu.  Thank you and please check back frequently for new content.

Grants available from the AAEHC
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 African American Episcopal Historical Collection (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.

Further information may be found in the “Travel Grant” section of the sidebar to the right. 

2019 Grant Recipients
  • Dr. Myra Ann Houser (Arkadelphia, AR)-- Catching the Rain: George Houser, Pacifism, and Civil Rights
2018 Grant Recipients
  • Dr. Rosemary D. Gooden (Chicago, IL) – Walter Decoster Dennis: Naming the Gospel, Living the Gospel
  • Dr. Ronald A. Johnson (Texas State University) – Bilateral Blackness: Haiti and Early American Identity
2017 Grant Recipients
  • Mr. Christopher M. Babits (University of Texas at Austin) -- To Cure a Sinful Nation: Conversion Therapy and the Making of Modern America, 1930 to the Present Day
  • Ms. Patti McGee-Colston (Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento) -- Conversations on Race
  • Dr. James G. Romaine (Lander University) -- Allan Rohan Crite, An Episcopalian Aesthetic
2016 Grant Recipients
  • Dr. Heath W. Carter (Valparaiso University) – The Kingdom of God May Yet Reign: The Social Gospel in American Life
  • Mr. Stanley Jenkins (Morgan State University) – Race, Religion and Class: The Thought of George Freeman Bragg
2015 Grant Recipients
  • Mr. Lance Poston (University of Kentucky) – Deconstructing Sodom and Gomorrah: A Historical Intervention in the Mythology of Black Homophobia
  • Dr. Jontyle Robinson (Tuskegee University) – Crite’s Creations: Capturing a Neighborhood, Connecting a Globe
  • Ms. Jennifer Boyle (Teachers College, Columbia University) – The Social Gospel and Activism at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Harlem, 1950-2000
  • Dr. Heather White (New College of Florida) – Gay Liberation at the Church of the Holy Apostles, New York City, 1960-1980  
 2014 Grant Recipients
  • Dr. Dan Royles (The University of Angers)  – “Don’t We Die Too?”: The Political Culture of African American AIDS Activism
  • The Rev. Dr. Robert Tobin (Oriel College, University of Oxford) – From Princes to Prophets: Identity and Activism in the Episcopal Church, 1945-1979
  • Ms. Angela Hooks (Dutchess Community College) – Private Writing Shapes Voices for Public Discourse

In 2003 the African American Episcopal Historical Collection was established at the VTS 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.

The AAEHC is a cooperative effort of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church 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.
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