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Alva I. Cox Jr. Papers

Call Number: RG 179

Scope and Contents

The following excerpts from the National of Council of Churches obituary notice for Cox give a glimpse of his prominent role as a film maker:

...Colleagues spoke of Cox's important "behind the scenes" roles of building connections among major media, churches and justice movements and of telling the story of those movements....As Protestant consultant to CBS-TV's Sunday morning "Look Up and Live" series from 1967-76, Cox "was the best bridge for CBS to the civil rights movement, and he was the one who established our credibility with civil rights leaders," said Pamela Ilott, former CBS-TV vice president for cultural and religious broadcasting, now retired. "I don't think people know the debt they owe to Al Cox for being such a vital link between religious faith, social consciousness, and the creation of public awareness about the truth of racism. Andrew Young, in his memoirs, cited Al Cox of CBS as the key to creating a relationship with the network."... Ilott continued, "Al was ahead of so much of the then current church thinking of the 50's and 60's. He was willing to try out new ideas and to take risks. He was a real ally for me. Those many decades ago, I think he represented the very best of the younger church movement of the churches in civil rights and reconciliation. And his later work simply confirmed that. This shouldn't be forgotten.... Contacted with word of Cox's death, Ambassador Young whose long association with Cox included service together with Cox on the staff of the National Council of Churches in the 1950s said of him, "Countless Americans unknowingly have viewed the civil rights movement through the eyes of Al Cox. Al early identified the Gospel's demands within the Movement, stayed with it when the going got rough and subsequently interpreted its meaning to two more generations."

Series I of the Alva I. Cox Papers is a "catch-all" category of church related media. Included are materials on a wide range of topics, including: an audio interview about a new missionary congregation in Albuquerque, a film about the NRSV Bible, filmstrips about the liturgical year, footage from a conference on preaching, a film on the history of the Christian student movement, episodes of CBS's "Look Up and Live" series, a film about a college festival called Mary's Day which celebrates women, a Presbyterian television magazine about equal employment opportunity and an inclusive language lectionary, footage of a Russian Orthodox service, audio interviews about youth ministry and a student missionary trip to Haiti, footage of a student Christian conference called "Celebrate!", audio recordings of a conference about the relationship between Oklahoma's farm crisis and the rise of radical groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, a program about ministers fighting on behalf of unemployed steelworkers, films and audio tapes about the Episcopal Church, films about the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief, audio tapes about refugees coming to the United States, a film about a fund providing money for minorities facing large amounts of bail, and a film about an interfaith coalition of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to affect economic policies.

Series II focuses on the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCC). This series includes such items as a CBS news program about controversy surrounding the NCC, footage of Arie Brouwer's NCC presidential acceptance speech, a film about various programs of the NCC, a film about the Interchurch Center (a.k.a. "475") in New York City, a film about the NCC's ecumenical approach to social justice issues, footage of a worship service by Billy Graham with the NCC, footage of NCC installation services for Rev. Joan Campbell and Dr. Syngman Rhee, footage of an NCC conference dealing with the church burnings of the 1990's, footage of the NCC's New World Order Project, a film about the NCC's Delta Ministry in Mississippi, an audio tape discussing the NCC's involvement in child advocacy and helping low-income families such as migrant workers in Nebraska, a film about the NCC Substance Abuse Consultation, and footage of a conference on racism.

Series III includes materials pertaining to both the NCC and the World Council of Churches (WCC). This series contains a CBS television special about how the funds of the NCC and WCC are used, a film on the NCC's and the WCC's efforts at unity and reconciliation, footage from the NCC and the WCC visiting the Pope at the Vatican, a film about the NCC and the WCC being involved in social justice issues, and footage of excerpts from the NCC-WCC press conference on "Racism is a Violation of Human Rights."

Series IV focuses specifically on the WCC. This series includes footage of WCC celebrations, a film showing a brief history of the WCC followed by a look into the processes of an activities at a WCC assembly in Australia, and another film about the WCC conference in Australia.

Series V focuses on Church World Services (CWS). It includes a film about what CWS does, footage of the 40th anniversary celebration of CWS, a program about the aid provided by CWS for the victims of an Armenia earthquake, a film about CWS providing aid to Ethiopia, Senegal, and Somalia, a program about an African medical center run by CWS to help malnourished children, a program about CWS's efforts to provide help for an African drought, and a couple of commercials by CWS appealing for donations for Somalia and the African drought.

Series VI contains materials related to the United Methodist Church (UMC). This category includes a film about the UMC's ministry in Alaska as well as footage of interviews and native dances used in this film, an audio recording of Rev. Glen "Tex" Evans speaking about the privilege of being a pastor, an audio recording of a meeting about how the UMC can help Native Alaskans and farmers, an audio recording about the Methodist theological tradition as well as the actions and organization of each continent's consultation, a film about the Gulfside facility given to the UMC by African-American Methodists as a retreat setting, a film with Bishop Forrest Stith about the New York Annual Conference of the UMC, a video from a consultation of Eastern Orthodox and Methodist churches, a film about a magazine for UMC women called Response, footage about the UMC in Africa, a film about a UMC program that brings individuals from South Africa to the U.S. as students and later returns them to South Africa to help educate others, a film to promote the expansion of UMC programs in New Jersey, a film about the UMC creating "shalom zones" and the Holy Boldness Program as responses to the L.A. riots of the 1990's, a film consisting of stories of faith and praise within the East Ohio Conference of the UMC, and a film about the involvement of UMC women in issues of social justice.

Series VII focuses on church burnings. This category contains a film about the burning of the New Hope Baptist Church in Seattle during the mid-1990's as well as its rebuilding, a film about the burnings of several African-American churches in the 1990's as well as the response of the NCC, footage of church leaders and civil rights leaders who are testifying to Congress about the mid-1990's church burnings, footage of an interview with Rev. Willy Coleman about his church being burned down in 1996, footage of the remains of a burned church from the mid-1990's, footage from NBC of Martin Luther King, Jr., examining burned churches as well as NBC news programs about the church burnings of the mid-1990's, a teen news program containing a segment about a volunteer helping rebuild burned churches (this program also features stories on President Clinton's summit on volunteerism and a militia standoff in Texas after the Waco incident), a film about the rebuilding of St. Mark's church after the church burnings of the 1990's, and footage of the rebuilding of a church.

Series VIII contains footage at Yale University Divinity School of a trio singing and Rev. James Forbes giving the Beecher Lecture in Marquand Chapel. Also included in this category is paperwork for a proposed film about nursing, which would have focused on the Yale School of Nursing.

Series IX focuses on issues of social awareness and social justice. This category includes a film demonstrating how everyday life in America is prejudiced in its privileging of Caucasians, a film about programs that can assist victims of crime with consequences that neither the justice system nor insurance companies may fully realize, an audio recording of an interview about the Good Samaritan Agency, a television program about economic empowerment of African-Americans in Seattle, a film about Project Equality, a film demonstrating some of the missed opportunities by schools, the juvenile justice system and communities at large to help troubled teens, footage of interviews about environmental problems in Albuquerque, a film about a legal brothel in Nevada, a video musical thank-you from the South for the help received during a drought, a couple of films made in response to the Land Claim Settlement Act in Alaska as well as a filmstrip/cassette package, a film made for the U.S.A.'s bicentennial that asks ordinary people whether or not freedom and justice are realities in their lives and the life of America, a film and audio interviews about present-day Native American Issues, a film about economic crisis faced by farmers, a filmstrip about toxic waste, footage of a flood in Bangladesh, a film about violence in South Africa and Mozambique, various photographs of Asia and misc. photos, an audio recording of interviews about Africa, and a film about police intimidation and peaceful protest in South Africa.

Series X consists of two films in Spanish. The first film is about alcoholism, drug addiction, and use of tobacco. The second film is about a program for UMC women taken from a book (Mujeres Forjando un Mundo) that centers on how women face change and cope with it.

Series XI contains materials focusing on particular individuals. Included in this category are a photograph, biography, obituary, and funeral program of Al Cox, Jr.; footage of Dr. Wesley Ariarajah speaking about the future of evangelism from an ecumenical perspective; an audio recording from the memorial service for Rev. Malcolm Blackburn, who was an Episcopal priest and also a leader of the ecumenical movement; a television program interviewing Dr. Eugene C. Blake, former president of the NCC, about the ecumenical movement; a video tribute to Dr. Kenyan C. Burke; an audio recording of an interview with Baptist minister Will Campbell in Mississippi who is accepting of Ku Klux Klan members but not their views; a film about former president Jimmy Carter challenging the U.N.'s policy of non-interference with civil/internal strife of countries; an audio recording of an interview with UCC minister Ivan Delk, who is the national chairperson for Project Equality; footage of an interview with Tom Fassett of the UMC in Alaska; footage from a dinner honoring Archbishop Iakovos and his efforts in ecumenism; footage from an interview with a lawyer from Nigeria named Bola Iga who helped coordinate the college student movement; footage of a speech by Dr. Ron Meyers on health justice issues, an interview with theologian Mercy Odyoye about the coming of the year 2000 and Christianity in Africa, footage of Dalee Sambo speaking about issues of recognition of tribal governments in Alaska by the state and federal governments, and a CBS television special about Rev. Andrew Young, U.S. representative to the U.N.

Series XII contains miscellaneous materials, such as a sample reel of films made by Synesthetics, Inc., slide carousels of bioenergetic group therapy and bioenergetic analysis, a box of slides with a basic guide that show the harmful effects industries can have on the environment, a film focusing on the work of the Klingberg Family Centers, a film, audio interviews, and a slide carousel about the YWCA, footage of a UMC Swaziland choir, an audio recording of a film about jazz, artistic films about love and work, footage of Native Alaskan dancers, a slide carousel of Israel, and a film about Buddhism in Burma.

Series XIII contains the film and materials about the Kent State shootings of May 190. Included in this collection are the film narrated by E.G. Marshall that recreates the events at Kent State University leading up to the shootings of students by the Ohio National Guard, two user guides for the film, original TRK and PIX rolls for the film, audio reels for the film, slides of the photographs used, paperwork describing the camera shots, narrations script read by E.G. Marshall, a fact sheet, newspaper articles, a proposal for an one-hour television special about Kent State, correspondence, petitions for a federal grand jury, the "Prelude to Murder" document, Congressional record materials and responses to Congress' findings, newspaper articles about Attorney General John Mitchell closing the case, an artist's article about "The Truth About Kent State", rental receipts of the movie, the Kent State Alumni Publication from one month after the shootings, "An Appeal for Justice" document, a collection of poems by Kent State locals, letters regarding the 1972 Miami Beach Coallition, a response to John Mitchell, articles on the Grand Jury, articles on Peter Davies' donation of his Kent State findings to Yale, reviews of Davies' book, appeals to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court, contracts for use of the film, an expense report, and paperwork from the making of the film such as a hand-edited script and Cox's personal notes.


  • 1966-1999


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Marceline Watler..


  1. I. Church Related (General)
  2. II. National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCC)
  3. III. NCC and WCC
  4. IV. World Council of Churches (WCC)
  5. V. Church World Services (CWS)
  6. VI. The United Methodist Church (UMC)
  7. VII. Church Burnings
  8. VIII. Yale
  9. IX. Social Awareness / Social Justice
  10. X. Spanish Films
  11. XI. Individuals
  12. XII. Other Topics
  13. XIII. Kent State


80 Linear Feet (173 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


This collection documents the work of Alva I. Cox, Jr., an independent film maker whose work chronicled the civil rights movement, human rights struggles, and ecumenical Christianity both nationally and globally. The films, slides, pictures, audio cassettes, and paperwork of the Cox collection have been organized by topic. Of particular note are the materials related to Cox's film "Kent State: May 1970." The film, cuts, paperwork, and other materials regarding Kent State complement the notebooks of Peter Davies with whom Cox worked in the making of his Kent State film. The Davies notebooks are held in the Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives Kent State Collection. Al Cox served for sixteen years as a staff member of the National Council of Churches in training and communications. After leaving the Council in 1967 to engage in freelance film work, he wrote more than thirty-five television scripts for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). He also served as a communication consultant to various community organizations, labor unions, minority business enterprises, and church groups. Cox received an STM degree from Yale Divinity School in Contemporary Theology.

Biographical / Historical

1925 Apr 27
Born in Mayfield, Ohio, the son of Helen R. (Roe) Cox and the Rev. Alva I. Cox
A.B. from Baldwin-Wallace College.
Attended the founding meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
B.D. from Garrett Theological Seminary.
Pastor of Grace Methodist Church, Waterville, CT.
Ordained to Methodist Ministry.
Assoc. Director of Educational Evangelism of the National Council of Churches (NCC).
S.T.M. from Yale University Divinity School.
Director of Educational Media of the NCC.
Edited the book, The Delinquent, The Hipster, and The Square, and Other Plays.
Edited the book, Christian Education in the Church Today.
"Mary's Day: Immaculate Heart College" is produced.
Vice-president of Communication Trends, Inc., Cos Cob, CT.
Protestant consultant to CBS's "Look Up and Live" series.
Free-lance writer for CBS News.
Founder and president of Synesthetics, Inc., Washington, D.C.
"Kent State: May 1970" is produced.
Consultancy examining racism in the media, National Council of La Raza, Wash., D.C.
"Echoes of the Revolution" is produced.
Consultancy examining long-term effects of school desegregation, Baldwin Wallace College.
"To Belong Again" is produced.
"It Takes All Kinds" is produced.
"The Next Step" is produced.
"The Challenge of Change" is produced.
"Images of an Agenda" is produced.
"CWS Africa Emergency" is produced.
"The Frontier is the Spirit" is produced.
"Response / New World Outlook" is produced.
"Making the Dream Come True: Project Equality" is produced.
"Jubilee Advent: A Report" is produced.
"De Mujer A Mujer del Lebdo de Recursos" is produced.
"Rejoice, Again I Say Rejoice" is produced.
"Share the Struggle, Share the Joy" is produced.
"Rural Crisis: A Call for Justice and Action" is produced.
"Armenia Earthquake Appeal" is produced.
"Advocates for Justice" is produced.
"Innocent Until Proven Guilty: the Ecumenical Minority Bail Bond Fund" is produced.
"A Legacy to Share: From Governing Board to General Board" is produced.
"Pilgrimage for Peace" is produced.
"Crossroads for Mission" is produced.
"Unity and Reconciliation" is produced.
"Come Holy Spirit / Hope and Challenge" is produced.
Co-author with John B. Lindner of book and film "By Faith: Christian Students Among the Cloud of Witnesses".
"The Hope of Your Calling" is produced.
"NRSV: A Standard for Our Time" is produced.
"The Eighth Fire" is produced.
"Seeking the Common Good: A Challenge to Church and Synagogues" is produced.
"Waiting Upon the Lord--Transformation" is produced.
"The Unity of the Church--Faith and Order and the Healing of Life" is produced.
"Project Equality 30th Anniversary" is produced.
"Confirming a Heritage: Embracing the Future" is produced.
"The Churches Are Burning" is produced.
"To Do Justice: United Methodist Women" is produced.
Attended the WCC's 50th Anniversary Assembly, Harare, Zimbabwe.
"Orthodox and Wesleyan Spirituality" is produced.
"Burned in Hate--Rebuilt in Love" is produced.
Provided audio-visual technical support for the NCC's 50th Anniversary celebrations.
Alva Cox, Jr., died at his home in Cos Cob, CT, of natural causes.
Guide to the Alva I. Cox Jr. Papers
Compiled by Lucas L. Schulte and Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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