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William Sloane Coffin, Jr. papers

Call Number: MS 1665
Scope and Contents

The papers document the career of William Sloane Coffin, Jr., best known as chaplain of Yale University, as senior minister of Riverside Church, and as a political activist. The collection consists of correspondence, topical files, writings, personal papers, audio recordings, videotapes, and other materials created and collected by Coffin. The collection includes ample documentation of the role Coffin played in social and political movements including civil rights, Vietnam War protests, amnesty for draft resisters, disarmament, and international relief work. The following specific groups and organizations are particularly well represented: Operation Crossroads Africa, Peace Corps, Americans For Re-Appraisal of Far Eastern Policy, and Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam. The papers include many other files related to Coffin's involvement in Vietnam War protest and civil rights, particularly his organizing of northern students. Materials relating to Coffin's ministry as chaplain of Yale and as senior minister of Riverside Church, specifically many of his sermons, are also included. Speeches and other writings comprise another significant part of the collection and provide researchers with insight into Coffin's views on a variety of social, political, and religious themes. The collection also includes a small amount of personal and family papers.

Conditions Governing Access

Original audiovisual materials, as well as preservation and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers must consult use copies, or if none exist must pay for a use copy, which is retained by the repository. Researchers wishing to obtain an additional copy for their personal use should consult Copying Services information on the Manuscripts and Archives web site. Copies of commercially produced audiovisual materials contained in this collection cannot be made for researcher use outside of the repository. As established by Yale Corporation regulations, box 38 of the original accession is restricted until January 1, 2044; box 3 of Accession 2007-M-068 is restricted until January 1, 2047; box 3 of Accession 2007-M-084 is restricted until January 1, 2051.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by Randy Wilson Coffin for the unpublished works authored or otherwise produced by William Sloane Coffin. After the lifetime of Randy Wilson Coffin or June 10, 2035, whichever comes first, copyright passes to Yale University whether such works are at Yale or physically located elsewhere in the world. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William Sloane Coffin, Jr., 1994, 2000, 2004. Transferred from Battell Chapel, 2004. Gift of Michael Ferber, 2005. Transferred from the Chaplain's Office, 2007. Gift of Randy Wilson Coffin, 2009 and 2018. Transferred from Yale Divinity Library, 2013.


Arranged in five series and ten additions: I. Correspondence, 1940-1983. II. Subject Files, 1959-1987. III. Yale University Files, 1955-1977. IV. Writings, 1945-1984. V. Personal Papers and Photographs, 1938-1982.

92.77 Linear Feet (311 boxes)
Related Names
Coffin, William Sloane, Jr., 1924-2006
Language of Materials