|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
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Using the Collection
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At a Glance
This collection is organized in one series arranged by institution and then chronologically.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains material related to Wornom's studies at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, and Teacher's College, including transcripts, syllabi, reading lists, class notes, assignments, and term papers. These documents are drawn from both Wornom's M.A. coursework, taken in 1923 and 1924, and his later graduate work, from 1935-39, during which time he studied under major Union figures such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and E.W. Lyman. Also included is a letter from Wornom to E.W. Lyman, and handwritten notes taken by Wornom at meetings of the Toward a Better World Society.
Burke Library record group:
Union Theological Seminary Archives: UTS 1, papers of faculty and students
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
The following boxes are located offsite: Box 1-4. Please note that requests for use of boxes held in offsite storage must be made three business days in advance.
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, UTS1: Herman E. Wornom Papers, 1923-1939, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
UTS1: Harrison Sacket Elliot papers, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Religious Education Association (RG 74), Special Collections, Yale Divinity School Library.
The Herman E. Wornom Papers were among a large group of unprocessed materials that were organized in 2018 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The exact provenance of this collection is unknown.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Files wrapped in brown paper were transferred to folders. The finding aid was created by Kevin Windhauser and Rebecca Nieto in 2018 with the support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2021.
2021-07-12 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Herman E. Wornom was born on June 30, 1902, in Dare, Virginia. He earned a Bachelor's degree from Randolph-Macon College in 1923, and an M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1924. During this time at Columbia, Wornom first met and studied under George Albert Coe, a major figure in early twentieth-century religious education and one of the founders of the Religious Education Association (REA), which Wornom would later lead. Following graduation from Columbia, Wornom became Minister of Education at three churches: Worcester Central Church in Massachusetts, the Congregational Church in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church outside of Washington, D.C. In the late 1930s, Wornom returned to New York City to pursue further graduate study at Union Theological Seminary and Teachers College, Columbia University. While there, Wornom studied under some of Union's best-known faculty, including Paul Tillich and E.W. Lyman, and forged further relationships with people who would become important figures in the REA, including his mentor, friend, and predecessor as REA General Secretary, Harrison Elliot. Wornom was ordained in 1940. In the years between his arrival at Union and his appointment at General Secretary of the REA in 1952, Wornom served as a religious educator in a variety of positions throughout the United States: at Union Theological Seminary as an assistant director of field work, at Springfield College in Massachusetts as supervisor of field work, and finally as assistant professor of religious education and director of field work at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. After the sudden passing of Harrison Elliot, Wornom succeeded his friend as General Secretary of the REA in 1952. Wornom's tenure as General Secretary is generally seen as transformative for the organization. During his early tenure, Wornom oversaw several major developments in the REA, most notably the movement of the organization's headquarters from Chicago to New York City and the expansion of the REA from a traditionally-Protestant organization to one that Wornom himself called "truly multifaith in membership", including Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish members. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Wornom prioritized development and expansion of the REA, focusing on securing increased financial resources for the organization and establishing conferences and roundtable events throughout the United States— conferences that eventually surpassed 1,500 attendees. Supported by a series of grants from the Lilly Foundation, Wornomlaunched a massive program for promoting research into religious and character education. The program, which included a panel of researchers tasked with surveying previous work and developing new avenues of inquiry, a 12-day workshop at Cornell University, and the creation of the REA's own dedicated research division, culminated in the 1971 publication of the pioneering handbook Research on Religious Development. After retiring from the REA in 1970, Wornom remained active in religious education endeavors. He served as visiting professor at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts, and worked in Mexico, Iran, and India, including working as a visiting professor at Sri Venkateswari University. Herman E. Wornom passed away on May 7, 1992, preceded in death by his wife, Mary Virginia.