Columbia University Archives

John D. Cannon Papers, 1900-1984, bulk 1966-1969

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0222
Bib ID 12135424 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Cannon, John Dyson, 1934-2014
Title John D. Cannon Papers, 1900-1984, bulk 1966-1969
Physical Description 3.84 linear feet (3 record cartons and 2 document boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site.

This collection has restrictions.



The collection is arranged in 5 series.



The collection consists of correspondence, memos, publications, reports, press clippings, press releases, sermons and speeches retained by the Rev. John D. Cannon, University Chaplain at Columbia University, 1966-1969.

  • Series I: Personal Files

    This series contains Rev. Cannon's personal correspondence, lectures, notebooks and collected biographical information such as an interview, an oral history and newspaper mentions.

  • Series II: Sermons, Speeches and Writings

    Arranged in chronological order, this series consists predominantly of Rev. Cannon's sermons and speeches given during his chaplaincy at Columbia University.

  • Series III: Student Strike, 1968

    Arranged alphabetically, series three encompasses news releases, periodicals, publications, reports, and student group information collected by Rev. Cannon about the 1968 Columbia Student Strike.

  • Series IV: Subject Files

    This series contains files related to Rev. Cannon's campus ministry activities and committee work. The series has an alphabetical arrangement.

  • Series V: Publications--Collected

    This series contains publications collected by Rev. Cannon and deals with the political, religious, and social upheavals facing university ministries during the late 1960s. These publications, many of them rare, contain Cannon's marginalia and notes evincing the development of his thoughts about how to lead a chaplaincy in a time of great campus turmoil. This series is arranged alphabetically by author. If the author is not known, the publication is arranged alphabetically by either article or periodical title.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site.

This collection has restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); John D. Cannon Papers; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Other Finding Aids

Reminiscences of John D. Cannon: oral history, Columbia Crisis of 1968 project, Columbia Center for Oral History, Butler Library, Columbia University, 1968.

University Protest and Activism Collection, 1958-1999 [Bulk Dates: 1968-1972] [UA#007] .


No additions are expected

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2016.2017.M035: Source of acquisition--Jeffrey Cannon. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--8/26/2016.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed CML 4/03/2017-05/26/2017.

Finding aid written CML 08/31/2017.

Revision Description

2017-09-13 xml document instance created by Christopher M. Laico.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Speeches (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Cannon, John Dyson, 1934-2014 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College chaplains Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College students Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College students -- Religious life Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Student strike, 1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Students Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay college students -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay liberation movement -- United States -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Student strikes -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Student-administrator relationships Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges -- Sermons Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

John Dyson Cannon (1934-2014) was born in St. Alban's, England. Until 1940, he lived in a London suburb, when the first of the German blitzes destroyed much of the city, and children were sent for safety to the United States. Upon arrival in America, he lived with his foster parents in Kennebunk, ME. In 1952, he graduated from Mt. Hermon School for Boys in Mt. Hermon, MA, followed by Harvard College (1956), and Union Theological Seminary, New York City (1959).

In 1959, Rev. Cannon was ordained a priest by Bishop Horace W.B. Donegan (1900-1991). He first served as an assistant to the rector at Saint Thomas Protestant Episcopal Church in Manhattan, NY. In 1963, Rev. Cannon began his chaplaincy ministry at Columbia University serving as Assistant Chaplain in the Protestant Office (1963-1964), Acting University Chaplain (1964-1966), and University Chaplain (1966-1969).

In the course of his tenure at Columbia University, Rev. Cannon was considered a new breed of clergyman, whose liberal politics and theology fostered a strong orientation toward progressive social action. In this regard, he was closely identified with many campus protest organizations. To illustrate, Rev. Cannon supported the creation of the Student Homophile League, now the Columbia Queer Alliance, protested the Vietnam War and racial inequality. He also recommended the elimination of the University Chaplaincy and the University's relationship with the Episcopal Church. These preceding actions and other projects such as the establishment of the Postscrypt, a coffee house located under St. Paul's Chapel created tensions between Rev. Cannon and the university administration. In October 1968, citing "a real barrier" with the administration and the "powerful pressures" placed upon the chaplain's office, Rev. Cannon announced his plans to resign before the end of the academic year upon the completion of a report undertaken by the Committee on Religious Life. This committee chaired by Rev. Cannon and formed by the University President engaged in an extensive, comprehensive review of religious programs, procedures, and policies at Columbia University.

After Columbia University, Rev, Cannon served a brief tenure at the Academy for Educational Development. Beginning in the mid-1970s, he worked as an assistant to Bishop Paul Moore, Jr. (1919-2003). In 1975, Rev. Cannon became the tenth Rector of Saint John's Church in Greenwich Village, NY. By 1985, he had returned to chaplaincy and teaching at St. Paul's School in Concord, NH. Rev. Cannon retired from the ministry in 1995.