Skip to main content

Suzanne de Diétrich papers

Call Number: RG 314

Scope and Contents

The collection includes correspondence and written works by Diétrich, as well as information about the Diétrich family. Correspondents include Madeleine Barot, Marguerite Ecoffey, Valdo Galland, Robert Mackie, Pierre Maury, Théo Preiss, Willem A. Visser ‘t Hooft, Charles Westphal, and others. The written works include a small number of diaries, as well as some Bible study manuscripts. There is also biographical material about Suzanne de Diétrich and her family.

The collection consists mainly of photocopies of original material and descriptive notes by historians of additional related material. The originals have been missing since before the collection arrived at the World Council of Churches library.


  • 1906 - 1992


Language of Materials

Materials are primarily in French, with large amounts also in English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

The material is available on microfilm:


I. Correspondence

II. Papers

Related Materials

A larger portion of de Diétrich’s papers are at the Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg ( The collection in Strasbourg includes photocopies of the materials in this collection.


2 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, written works, and family information by and about French ecumenical leader Suzanne de Diétrich.

Biographical / Historical

Suzanne de Diétrich (1891-1981) was born in Niederbronn in the Rhine valley to a family of industrialists, members of the Reformed Church of France. She studied engineering in Lausanne, where she also took part in the Christian Students Association’s activities. She graduated in 1913—the first French woman to obtain a degree in engineering—and attended the congress of the French Federation of Christian Students Associations (the “Fédé”) in 1914. Her attendance at the congress inspired her to dedicate herself more fully to the Student Christian Movement. She started regular Bible study sessions at the Fédé, promoting the idea that the Bible was available to everyone, at every step of their spiritual development. During this time, she also took part in the discovery of Karl Barth (1886-1968), the great German theologian whose work was spread in France by pastor Pierre Maury (1890-1956) via Faith and Life magazine.

She joined the World Student Christian Federation in 1920, serving as an executive committee member (1920-1935), vice chair (1928-1932), and staff member (1935-1946). In 1932, she organized the first meeting of Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox theologians. During World War II, she stayed in Geneva to support Christian Students’ Associations in Europe, while the main WSCF office had temporarily relocated to Toronto. While there, she wrote a history of the WSCF, and Le Dessein de Dieu, her most well-known work. It was published in 1945, and has been translated into thirteen languages.

In September 1939, along with Madeleine Barot (1909-1995), she took part in the foundation of the CIMADE (Comité inter-mouvements auprès des évacués), which gave assistance and support to people uprooted by war, beginning with those who were evacuated from the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine at the beginning of World War II. In 1941, she was one of sixteen pastors and lay people who wrote the Thèses de Pomeyrol, advocating the resistance of the French Reformed Church to Nazism.

In 1946, de Diétrich took part in the foundation of the new Ecumenical Institute at Bossey in the Swiss Vaud region, a sort of laboratory where ecumenicalism was a way of living. She was in charge of training lay people for ecumenical work. She stayed there for eight years. In 1954, she settled in Paris, but often travelled to North America and Canada to teach theology. She has been nominated Doctor Honoris Causa in theology by several universities in North America and Europe. In 1958, she became a member of the Board of directors of the CIMADE. In 1979, she moved to the Deaconess House in Strasbourg, where she lived until her death on January 24, 1981.

In addition to a large number of Bible study resources, Suzanne de Diétrich’s works include:

  1. Les paraboles: études bibliques (Paris, 1922)
  2. Je suis la verité (Paris: Fédération française des étudiants chrétiens, 1923)
  3. L’apôtre Paul: études bibliques (Paris, 1924)
  4. C'était l'heure de l'offrande: Notes en marge de l'Évangile (Éditions du Semeur, 1935)
  5. La croix: trois meditations (Cahors: Éditions du Semeur, 1941)
  6. Le prophète Jérémie (Paris: Fédération française des étudiants chrétiens, 1941)
  7. Le dessein de Dieu (Neuchltel, Delachaux et Niestle, 1943) (English translation: God’s Unfolding Purpose, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1960)
  8. Le renouveau biblique (Geneva, WCC, 1945) (a shorter English edition had appeared already with the title Rediscovering the Bible, WSCF, Canada, 1942)
  9. La Fédération universelle des associations chrétiennes d'étudiants (1895-1945) (Paris, éditions du Semeur, 1948)
  10. Les Lettres johanniques (Labor et Fides, 1964)
  11. Le renouveau biblique, hier et aujourd'hui. Second enlarged edition in two volumes: Volume I: Qu'est-ce que la Bible?; Volume II: Comment lire la Bible? (Delachaux et Niestlé, 1969)

Custodial History

The collection was originally processed as part of the WSCF archive in Geneva (boxes 213.51.1-213.51.6), housed at the World Council of Churches library. The collection arrived at Yale along with the WSCF archive (RG 46F) in 2018.

Guide to the Suzanne de Dietrich Papers
Elizabeth Peters
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

409 Prospect Street
New Haven CT 06511 US
(203) 432-5301

Opening Hours