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H. Boone Porter Papers

Call Number: RG 230

Scope and Contents

This manuscript group provides extensive documentation of the work of H. Boone Porter, an important figure in the Episcopal Church. A tribute to Porter written by Ralph N. McMichael, Jr. for the May 16, 1999 issue of The Living Church, which is reproduced below succinctly outlines the role that Porter played in his long career. All of the activities noted in McMichael's tribute are well documented in Porter's papers.

Ralph N. McMichael, Jr. wrote: "Any student of the Episcopal Church in the latter half of this century would be hard pressed not to come across the name of H. Boone Porter. In fact, his name and influence can be traced in so many places that the student should not give up the task too soon. For just when you think you have a grasp on how Boone Porter has shaped the Episcopal Church, you find out that he is doing or has done something completely different."

"Canon Porter's ministry has been, and continues to be, so rich and varied that it is hard to designate his legacy in just one or two ways. He is liturgical scholar, professor, pastor, editor and missioner. He has shaped our liturgy, our parishes, our prayer book, our publications, and our view of the ministry and mission of the church."

"A good place to begin is with the liturgy of the Episcopal Church. Urban T. Holmes once wrote that the most significant event in the education in liturgy in the Episcopal Church in this century was Boone Porter's becoming professor of liturgy at the General Theological Seminary. After having taught church history at Nashotah House, he began teaching liturgy at General in 1960. While there, he started a doctoral program in liturgy, and he supervised the graduate work of Leonel Mitchell, Thomas Talley and Marion Hatchett. All three became professors of liturgy at seminaries of the Episcopal Church. As a liturgical scholar, Canon Porter has written books on such topics as ordination rites, Sunday, Jeremy Taylor, and the liturgical seasons. However, his influence on the liturgical life of the Episcopal Church was not limited to the classroom and to publications."

"He was one of the main architects of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. He shaped both the prayer book and the way we think about the liturgy. He served for several years on the Standing Liturgical Commission that oversaw the development of the '79 BCP. He wrote many prayers in the book, including Eucharistic Prayer A and part of B. As an active member of the Council of Associated Parishes, and a stint as its president, he shaped how we understand and live the liturgy. Again, this shaping of liturgy and life was not confined to the sanctuary. His horizons were expanding into the realm of the mission to small and rural parishes."

"Canon Porter left General in 1970 to become director of the National Town and Country Church Institute (Roanridge). In this position, he sought to deepen and expand the conversation regarding the mission of the church. He promoted the thought of Roland Allen, and he sought the development and support of local ministry, including ministry in Native American communities. He also worked on the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order and not just a step toward priesthood. Now retired and living in Connecticut, his shaping of the church's ministry continues today with next month's Living the Covenant Conference. He has been the chief organizer of this event, which seeks to address the development of ministry within a baptismal context."

"In becoming editor of The Living Church in 1977, Canon Porter's influence expanded even more widely. As editor, he sought to inform and provoke the life of the Episcopal Church. However, he carried out this ministry not as an advocate who only offers polemics. This approach to the life of the church would be against his nature. For above all else, he is someone who lives and shares the peace of Christ. His journey has not been one of ambition and restlessness. It has been, and continues to be, one man's pilgrimage of faith. He has shaped the church because he has been shaped by Christ."


  • 1940-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1954 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the children of H. Boone Porter, 2010


  1. I. Correspondence, 1940-1998
  2. II. Sermons, 1953-1999
  3. III. Writings of HBP, 1951-1999
  4. IV. Research Materials, 1977-1984, n.d.
  5. V. Course-Related Materials, 1947-1996
  6. VI. Major Organizations Served, 1954-2003
  7. VII. Other Organizations Served, 1963-1999
  8. VIII. Collected Materials, 1957-1995
  9. IX. Biographical Documentation, 1958-1999
  10. X. Audio-Visual Material, 1950s-1999


35 Linear Feet (84 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 H. Boone Porter, an important figure in the Episcopal Church during the second half of the 20th century. A graduate of Yale, Berkeley Divinity School, and General Theological Seminary, Boone was a Professor of Liturgics at General Theological Seminary from 1960 to 1970. As a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church, he was a major architect of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Later he served as Executive Director of the Town and Country Church Institute (Roanridge) and editor of The Living Church from 1977 until his retirement in 1990. While in retirement Porter completed a Master's degree at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He wrote several books and many articles related to liturgy and the mission of the church.

Biographical / Historical


1923 Jan 10
Harry Boone Porter born in Louisville, KY to a prosperous family that founded the Porter Paint Company
Graduated from St. Paul’s School (Concord, New Hampshire)
Military service in Army during WWII
B.A., Yale University
1947 Jun 28
Married Violet Monser
1950 Apr 12
Ordained as deacon in Episcopal Church
S.T.B., Berkeley Divinity School
Fellow and tutor, General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church
1952 Apr 16
Ordained as priest in the Episcopal Church
S.T.M., General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church
D.Phil., Oxford University
Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Nashotah House, an Episcopal Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin
1960 Jul-Dec
Round the world trip; HPB spent the majority of his time in rural India, Thailand, Malaya, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Alaska.
Author of The Day of Light: The Biblical and Liturgical Meaning of Sunday
Professor of Liturgics, General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, NYC; established the first doctoral program in liturgical studies in the United States.
Member of the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church
Author of Samuel Seabury, Bishop in a New Nation
Author of Ordination Prayers of the Ancient Western Churches
Editor of Prayer Book for Armed Forces
Author of Growth and Life in the Local Church
Received National Rural Work Award
Executive Director, Town and Country Church Institute, Roanridge, Kansas City, Missouri
Served on the General Board of Examining Chaplains
President, Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, Inc.
Dean, Leadership Academy for New Directions
Author of Keeping the Church Year
Editor of The Living Church
Author of Jeremy Taylor, Liturgist (1613-1667)
Appointed Honorary Canon, Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, Faribault, Minnesota
Author of A Song of Creation
Official retirement
D.D. (honoris causa), General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church
D.D. (honoris causa), Nashotah House
Festschrift: Creation and Liturgy: Studies in Honor of H. Boone Porter, R. N. McMichael, ed.
Master of Environmental Studies, Yale Forestry School
D.D. (honoris causa), Berkeley Divinity School
1999 Jun 5
Died in Bridgeport, Connecticut
Guide to the H. Boone Porter Papers
Martha Lund Smalley and George A. Keddie
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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