|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 8 series: 1. Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians records; 2. Course files; 3. Martin and Malcolm files; 4. Subject files; 5. Audiovisual materials; 6. Personal materials; 7. Union Theological Seminary (UTS) files; and 8. Scholarship, which is arranged in 4 subseries: Subseries 8A: Speaking and publicity, Subseries 8B: Projects, Subseries 8C: Notes, and Subseries 8D: Writings.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains professional and personal materials of Reverend Doctor James Hal Cone, a pioneering voice in American religious history and founder of Black Liberation Theology. Materials include writings, notes, teaching materials such as syllabi and student work, lectures and documentation of speaking engagements, supporting research for and manuscripts of publications, photographs, personal and professional correspondence, documentation of committee and other work at UTS, AV materials used for research and documenting speaking engagements, books, and awards and memorabilia.
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 contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.
The following boxes are located offsite: Box 11-42, 76. Please note that requests for use of boxes held in offsite storage must be made three to five 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: James Hal Cone papers, circa 1945-2019, series #, box #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated by Kelly Brown Douglas, Cone's executor, in 2019, and transferred in March 2020, accession UTS1-2020-005.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
150 boxes were transferred by Leah Edelman, Matthew Baker, and Calvin Mason in 2020; approximately 50 boxes of unannotated books were then separated from the archival collection. Original folders with titles were kept when possible; some material was re-housed in acid-free folders, and all folders were placed in acid-free boxes. Sensitive material, including medical, financial, and other personal information, was weeded from the collection. The finding aid, including box and folder-level inventories and series and subseries-level descriptions, was created by Leah Edelman between 2020 and 2023.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Reverend Dr. James Hal Cone was the founder of Black Liberation Theology, an award-winning author, and the Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, where he taught for 50 years. Cone's work-- which synthesized the experience of being Black in America with a theology that asserts a love for Black people and a God aligned with the liberation of the oppressed-- shaped generations of scholars, professors, clergy, and activists.
James Hal Cone was born on August 5, 1938 in Fordyce, Arkansas, the youngest of three sons of Charlie and Lucy Cone. Cone grew up in nearby Bearden, Arkansas and attended the Macedonia A.M.E. Church, entering the ministry at age 16. He attended Shorter College and Philander Smith College (B.A .1958) in Little Rock, Arkansas, before pursuing graduate education at Garrett Theological Seminary (M.Div. 1961) and Northwestern University (M.A. 1963 and Ph.D. 1965). Cone taught at Philander Smith College as an Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy from 1964-1966, at Adrian College as an Assistant Professor of Religion from 1966-1969, and joined the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in 1969 as an Assistant Professor of Theology. At Union, he then taught as Associate Professor of Theology from 1970-1973, Professor of Theology from 1973-1977, Charles A. Briggs Professor of Systematic Theology from 1977-1987, the Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology from 1987-2017, and the Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology from 2017-2018. Cone taught courses on systematic theology, the Blues, James Baldwin, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, Black theology, and liberation theologies of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, among other courses. Cone's major writings include the ground-breaking Black Theology and Black Power (1969), A Black Theology of Liberation (1970), The Spirituals and the Blues (1972), God of the Oppressed (1975), Black Theology: A Documentary History 1966-1979 (edited with Gayraud Wilmore, 1979), My Soul Looks Back (1982), For My People (1984), Speaking the Truth (1986), Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare (1991), Risks of Faith (1999), The Cross and the Lynching Tree (2011), and Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody (2018). Cone is also the author of numerous other articles and publications. Cone lectured widely, traveling domestically and internationally to do so. He received 13 honorary degrees and numerous awards, including the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Cone was an active member of professional societies including the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and the American Academy of Religion. James Cone died on April 28, 2018 in New York City at the age of 79.