Elizabeth Hart Frazier and Donald Hart Frazier Papers
Scope and Contents
The Donald and Elizabeth Hart Frazier Papers reflects the ways in which the Hart Fraziers engaged with the pressing questions of their time regarding ministry, population, and women: through writing, preaching, researching, and extensive organizational involvement—processes which amassed (as reflected in this collection) a corpus of writings from over a half century, correspondence, and varied materials from meeting minutes and conference notes to newspaper clippings.
Series I, Writings, dating from around 1938 to 2015, contains two main subseries: the gathered writings of Elizabeth Hart Frazier and of Donald Hart Frazier. Elizabeth’s writings begin with essays from her time at Yale Divinity School and thereafter jump into the 1970s, following her ordination in 1972. The sermons topically reflect her advocacy work regarding family planning and population concerns. The subseries of Elizabeth’s writings ends with published material, often creative, some autobiographical, in form.
Donald Hart Frazier’s writings begin with his notes from Yale Divinity courses and proceed into sermons and addresses from his ministerial life. Notable within the sermons and addresses is his “General Association of Connecticut Moderator’s address, ‘Women in Our Common Life,’” box 3, folder 11. The address led to the 1971 pronouncement, written with Elizabeth, presented the synod of the UCC. The published writings, some jointly authored with Elizabeth, include writings on financial stewardship and religious educational texts.
Series II, Materials related to Yale, dating from 1925 to 2017, contains materials from their days at the Divinity School and their continued financial and intellectual commitment to the school. The series begins with materials relating to the Divinity School, containing class booklets reflecting on their years at the Divinity School to materials relating to the Hart Fraziers’ work as class agents fundraising. The second subseries contains materials relating to the wider University. Notable within the series is “Correspondence related to women at YDS and curriculum development,” box 5, folder 6, containing materials related to Elizabeth’s involvement in assessing the YDS curriculum resulting in the 1971 lecture series, “Search for Livable Lifestyles.”
Series III, Family planning and reproductive rights, contains materials dating from 1962 to 2018. The series contains subseries relating to work with Planned Parenthood and other organizations, and topical files containing a variety of materials: clippings, pamphlets, and circulars that Elizabeth Hart Frazier gathered. Folders titled “Programmatic materials” include meeting minutes, member lists, conference schedules, and correspondence. The subseries Planned Parenthood is organized by branch of the organization: the wider national organization, World Population and the Religious Advisory Committee, Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and Planned Parenthood League of Greater New Haven. These files provide detailed insight into the strategy and functioning of Planned Parenthood from circa 1965-1975 and particularly considering a global boom in population.
Notable within the other organizations are the subseries “Clergy Counseling” and “The Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights.” Formed before the national legalization of abortion through Roe v. Wade in 1973, Clergy Counseling trained religious leaders to counsel and support women in family planning. The files in box 8, folder 11-14, contain training and informational materials and Elizabeth Hart Frazier’s counseling notes. In the aftermath Roe v. Wade in 1973 and the ensuing opposition from the Catholic Church, Jewish and Protestant members of Clergy Counseling formed the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights.
Series IV, Church related materials, dating from 1959 to 1996, begins with a subseries related to the United Church of Christ, including substantial materials on women in the UCC, providing insight into the experiences of clergywomen and denominational attitudes towards the feminist and reproductive rights movements. Series IV proceeds to programmatic materials, publications, and correspondence from the CT Fellowship of Congregational Women (affiliated with the UCC) and Church Women United (affiliated with the National Council of Churches), women’s groups that Elizabeth was active in. The final subseries contains miscellaneous church-related materials, from a study by the World Council of Churches on women in ministry in 1963 (box 11, folder 11), to gathered materials from interim pastorates.
Series V, Other organizations, dating from 1964 to 2014, contains materials from organizations the Hart Fraziers were involved in and is arranged alphabetically by organization.
Series VI, Subject files, dates from around 1940 to the late 2010s. The materials vary in format, from magazines and circulars to newspaper clippings, and reflect broadly the collecting interests and research of Elizabeth Hart Frazier: women in ministry and the church, the nascent feminist movement and its evolution, the wellbeing of families and modern society. Similar material is in Series III, Family planning and reproductive rights, “Topical files,” including Elizabeth’s extensive research on global population.
Series VII, Biographical documentation, dating from 1945 to 2016, holds resumes, autobiographical writings and reflections, personal correspondence, and newspaper articles about Donald and Elizabeth Hart Frazier.
- 1925 - 2018
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Robert Frazier, 2022.
- I. Writings, circa 1938-2015
- II. Materials related to Yale, 1925-2017
- III. Family planning and reproductive rights, 1962-2018
- IV. Church related materials, 1959-1996
- V. Other organizations, 1964-2016
- VI. Subject files, circa 1940-2010s
- VII. Biographical documentation, 1945-2016
6.25 Linear Feet (15 boxes)
Language of Materials
Extensive writings from Donald Hart Frazier (YDS B.D. 1938) and Elizabeth Hart Frazier (YDS B.D. 1940) reflect over a half century of parish ministry and concern issues of family planning and the rights of women, which they engaged through their involvement in Planned Parenthood, the United Church of Christ, and Yale Divinity School. Substantial gathered materials, including meeting minutes, agendas, memos, and publications from Planned Parenthood (World Population, League of Connecticut, and League of Greater New Haven) from the 1960s to 1980s, provide insight into abortion rights advocacy and the evolving feminist movement in church and society.
Biographical / Historical
Donald Hart Frazier was born in 1911, in Forksville, Pennsylvania. After attending high school in Vermont, he enrolled at Oberlin College, where he received his B.A. in 1933. While at Oberlin, he met Elizabeth Hart, born in 1915 in Massillon, Ohio. Following her graduation from Oberlin in 1936, Donald and Elizabeth married, and she joined him in New Haven at Yale Divinity School. Donald graduated from Yale Divinity in 1938 and Elizabeth in 1940, while six months pregnant with the first of their four children.
As Donald pastored Congregational churches throughout the Northeast—in Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, and back in the New Haven area at the First Congregational Church of West Haven in 1960—Elizabeth cared for the family, led religious education programs, provided pastoral care, and served on various community boards, including the Board of Directors of Family Service of New Haven, Planned Parenthood League of New Haven and Connecticut, and as president of the West Haven PTA. After nearly thirty years in parish ministry, Donald transitioned into development work for the United Church of Christ and later Albertus Magnus College.
The call to ordination came to Elizabeth through her nonprofit, advocacy work. In the fall of 1970, Church Women United (of the National Council of Churches) appointed Elizabeth to the Religious Advisory Committee of Planned Parenthood. Upon walking into her first meeting, she was confronted with a group of religious leaders she later described as, “all male, all agonizing over the female body.” Prompted by her understanding of the value she brought to this work as an educated woman, and the requirement for ordination to serve with the Clergy Abortion Counseling Service, Elizabeth was ordained into the United Church of Christ in 1972.
In the 1970s and 80s, Donald and Elizabeth shared fourteen interim pastorates in Connecticut, and continually engaged with the social issues of their time. They shared a passion for the responsible stewardship of capital (a topic they jointly published on in the 1940s) and a concern for an ever-changing and expanding world. Attention to world population, the rights of women, and the growth of healthy families saturated their words from the pulpit and their work over a half century in the United Church of Christ, Planned Parenthood, and other organizations.
In 1991, in view of his approaching anniversary of fifty years in ordained ministry, Donald Hart Frazier wrote to the UCC conference minister requesting that Elizabeth be acknowledged with him. “She could have been ordained for the same fifty years as I,” he explained, “she deserves to stand with us to be recognized. I recognize this is an unusual request but ours has been an unusual relationship. I have not functioned alone but rather with a fully committed and fully trained partner.”
Following Donald’s death in 2000, Elizabeth continued the work from their lifetime together: supporting local organizations, speaking publicly, and writing. She died at the age of 104 in 2019.
- Guide to the Elizabeth Hart Frazier and Donald Hart Frazier Papers
- Abigail Kromminga
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared According To Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Dacs)
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