|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in one series arranged regionally and alphabetically.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains Robert Tobias' files pertaining to the potential founding of a World Association of Theological Schools (although the proposal gained a lot of support, the association never came to fruition). The files contain correspondence with different schools, draftts, as well as catalogues and course descriptions of the seminaries which Tobias contacted.
Burke Library record group:
William Adams Brown Ecumenical Library Archives
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, WAB: Robert Tobias papers, circa 1960-1961, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The exact provenance of this collection is unknown. The collection is part of the William Adams Brown Ecumenical Library Collection, which was founded in 1945 by the Union Theological Seminary Board of Directors.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Materials were rehoused onto new acid-free folders and archival boxes. Material was separated by acid free paper to indicate separate school listings. The following schools had folders but were found empty: Haas Theological Seminary, [Salisbury, North Carolina], Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary [Columbus, Ohio], Talusan C. Smith University [Charlotte, North Carolina], McMaster Divinity College [Hamilton, Ohio], North Baptist Theological Seminary [Chicago, Illinois], Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary, [New York New York], Union College of British Columbia [Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada], and the Janhtau School of Theology, Affiliated with United Theological Seminary [Minneapolis, Minnesota]. The finding aid was created by Rossy Mendez and Brigette C. Kamsler in 2013 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.
2022-08-01 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Robert Tobias was born August 17, 1919 in Lyons, Kansas. Tobias completed a Master of Arts from Phillips University in 1943 and obtained his Bachelor of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 1945. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Theology at the University at Geneva. His dissertation entitled, Communist-Christian Encounter in East Europe, 1917-1951 revealed his interest in ecumenism and the role of the church in society. This interest was perhaps influenced by his special responsibilities towards East Europe while working as the Assistant Director of the Department of Inter-Church Aid and Service to Refugees, which was part of the World Council of Churches. He served in this position from 1946-1953. Tobias also served as a World Council of Churches observer for the Geneva sessions, led by Eleanor Roosevelt. These sessions were used to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tobias earned many honors for his work in ecumenism, including Geneva's key to the city and prominent decorations by King Paul of Greece as Commander of the Royal Order of Phoenix and in Yugoslavia, by patriarchs German and Pavel with the Order of St. Sava. From the 1950s-1980s Tobias served as a theology professor at the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana and later at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, Illinois. During his time at the Christian Theological Seminary, Tobias worked with other faculty and ecumenical leaders, such as Dr. Henry P. van Dusen from Union Theological Seminary, to establish a World Association of Theological Schools. In 1960, a proposal was drafted at the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism in Bossey, Switzerland. As the secretary of the continuation committee, Tobias sent out surveys to seminary schools nationwide and abroad to gauge interest in a world-wide association of seminaries. In 1961, the committee met during the World Council of Churches meeting in New Delhi to discuss the formal establishment of the association. Following this meeting Tobias assisted in establishing a world-wide directory of seminaries. Robert Tobias continued with his work on ecumenism and went on to serve on committees of many ecumenical and international organizations. Beginning in 1983, Tobias co-chaired sessions of the Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue in North America and has written books and articles related to his work, including, Heaven on Earth: A Lutheran - Orthodox Odyssey. Tobias passed away on October 6, 2010 and was buried in Kenosha, Wisconsin.