|Columbia University Archives|
At a Glance
Arranged in one series.
The collection consists of correspondence, brochures, flyers, memos, minutes, pamphlets, publications, reports, press clippings, press releases, retained by the Episcopal Chaplain's Office, Columbia University.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts and University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Episcopal Chaplain Records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Materials-- Columbia University Archives
No additions are expected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Records processed 01/03/2018-02/19/2018.
Finding Aid written CML 02/21/2018.
2018-02-23 xml instance created by Christopher M. Laico.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
The Episcopal Chaplain Records contain subject files covering the social initiatives, and student ministry activities undertaken by the Episcopal Chaplain's Office on and off the Columbia University campus chiefly during the period from 1966 to 1996.
Founded in 1754 by royal charter of King George II, King's College, now Columbia University, was originally located on land conveyed to it by Trinity Church in 1755. Due to Columbia's strong Anglican and later, Episcopalian, ties. From 1755 to 1856, the University President and faculty together assumed responsibility for regulating the religious and moral life of students. The practice of employing a University Chaplain affiliated with the Episcopal Church was initiated in 1856.
In March 1966, the Board of Trustees established by resolution the President's Committee on Religious Life. The Committee's mandate was to study the role of the university chaplaincy with particular reference to that office's relationship to the religious work of the university and to the religious counselors. The Committee undertook a comprehensive review of the organization, programs and procedures of religious life at Columbia University. The Department of Religion, however, was not included in the charge assigned to the Committee because it was considered an academic department, separate and distinct from the responsibilities designated to the Office of the Chaplain, St. Paul's Chapel and Earl Hall. The Committee's report was to be completed by the beginning of the academic year 1968-1969 so that its provisions could be considered and implemented on July 1, 1969. The Committee members included the Committee's chair John C. Cannon (1934-2014), Chaplain of the University; Robert D. Cooper, Assistant Provost; William Theodore de Bary (1919-2017), Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Martin P. Golding, Associate Professor of Philosophy; Louis Henkin (1917-2010), Professor of Law; Walter P. Metzger (1922-2016), Professor of History; Harold M. Stahmer, Professor of Religion, Barnard College; and Barry Ulanov (1918-2000), Professor of English, Barnard College.
On July 8, 1969, the university announced the Committee's recommendations. Implemented proposals included: the university discontinued the office of University Chaplain and created a new Center for Religion and Life at Columbia University (Center). The Center, in turn, was given jurisdiction over Earl Hall and St. Paul's Chapel on the Morningside Heights campus. A professional staff and a student governing board was also established to administer the Center's facilities and programs. On June 30th, Rev. Cannon had resigned as University Chaplain and Monsignor James E. Rea was appointed interim director of the Center. The Committee report stated that, while the university should continue to offer hospitality to denominational activities, university funds and facilities set apart for religious life should be used primarily to strengthen and develop programs and resources of non-sectarian nature.
Since 1969, therefore, chaplains and counselors have represented their individual faith communities through the Center located in Earl Hall. In 1996, although no longer affiliated with the Episcopal Church, the position of University Chaplain was reinstated in order to coordinate the increasingly diverse spiritual life on the campus as well as administer its volunteer outreach programs in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Covering mainly the period 1966 to 1996, the Episcopal Chaplain records contain subject files covering the social initiatives, and student ministry activities undertaken by Rev. William F. Starr (1933-2017) during his tenure in that position from 1965 to 2002. Rev. Starr was a progressive political and social advocate not only for students, but also for faculty and workers. In this regard, he secured venues for many organizations to meet and his office was often the headquarters for activists. In 1968, for example, Starr helped organize and lead a counter-commencement for the class of 1968. Besides his involvement in the 1968 Columbia Student Strike, Starr's activism continued for decades with campaigns for the university to divest from South Africa, for support of the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, and for aid to the Columbia clerical workers of District 65-UAW-AFL-CIO in their union-organizing. struggle.