United Student Christian Council records
Scope and Contents
The materials in this collection consist of correspondence, memos, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, reports, and various publications detailing the administrative program of the USCC and its predecessor the Provisional Council of the WSCF in the USA. Within the categories established, all material is arranged alphabetically by subject then chronologically.
Series I: Provisional Council of the World Student Christian Federation in the United States of America, houses records pertaining to the Provisional Council of the World Student Christian Federation in the United States of America which was the precursor to the United Students Christian Council. The organization was comprised of the National Intercollegiate Council of the YMCA and YWCA, Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, University Commission of the Church Boards of Education, and the Lutheran Student Association of America. The primary goals for the Provisional Council consisted of being the North American link to the World Student Christian Federation, and raising money for student relief and reconstruction for those in war torn Europe.
Series II: USCC Correspondence, consists of five subseries divided by administrative era of each Executive Secretary plus an initial section for Donald Noyce, who was the student chairman responsible for administrative duties until a permanent Executive Secretary could be secured. These records detail the Executive secretary's role as administrator, fund raiser, and advocate for the USCC. In addition, correspondence between the WSCF secretary and the USCC Executive Secretary illustrates the relationship between the two organizations.
Series III: USCC Committees and Commissions, is divided into seven subseries. Six of the subseries pertain to the more substantive committees of the USCC with the seventh subseries bringing together additional committees that existed to reach a goal or were phased out due to lack of interest:
The Budget Committee dealt with incomes and expenditures within the USCC as well as keeping track of WSCF contributions. When USCC became a related movement to the NCCC they transferred their accounts over. USCC was responsible for raising their own income, but they had to clear their budget through the NCCC.
The Campus Strategy Committee existed from 1949-1952. The primary goal of the committee was assessment of cooperative patterns between student Christian organizations on university and college campuses. In certain cases such as that of Bowling Green State University, the CSC would step in to help advise, and coordinate more effective ecumenical activities. In 1952, the CSC was transferred to the NCCC's Department of Campus Christian Life.
The Ecumenical Voluntary Service Committee was originally run by the Congregational Christian Service Committee, which was related to World Council of Churches, and a committee on ecumenical work camps in USA administered by United Christian Youth Movement. The secretary, Joseph Howell, stepped down, and WCC requested the NCCC take charge of the committee. It made logical sense for USCC to take over in 1955. CEVSP acted as a clearing house for service projects domestically and internationally. It was involved in assisting a Russian American exchange program in 1958.
The Executive Committee kept the USCC on target with what goals and priorities had been set by the General Assembly meeting.
The Study Department organized study conferences that were scheduled as quadrennials, and they published material pertinent to the USCC’s perspective on bible study. Early in 1957, the Study Department initiated a pilot study program with certain Christian university groups as part of the WSCF Life and Mission of the Church Project. The purpose of the study was to address so-called "University question" - how student Christians should relate to an increasingly secular and technological world. Responses were sent to the study department, and would be the research for which Lex Miller wrote his book on the University question entitled Faith and Learning: Christian Faith and Higher Education in Twentieth Century America.
The WSCF Committee was responsible for fund raising, promotion of WSCF by sending out literature, and coordinating programs and projects . The most prominent project was the WSCF Universal Day of Prayer that occurred every February on universities and college campuses across the world. The USCC would print and distribute programs for this event as well as recommend WSCF speakers to campuses. The WSCF Committee also assisted in sending American student delegates to summer projects such as the WSCF Work Camp in Bievres, France after World War II, and the Student in Industry project in Brantford, Ontario. The WSCF Committee also coordinated travel and speaking engagements for WSCF speakers.
Series IV: Conferences, is split into four subseries. USCC Conferences encompass the General Assembly which is their annual meeting, and the miscellaneous study conferences focused on bible study and Christian theology. USCC Consultations were in between enlarged meetings and a weekend conference. Consultations often brought different groups together to discuss or tackle an issue affecting the organization such as the merger with NCCC, or how to better work with international students. WSCF conferences ranged from the WSCF General Committee meetings which occurred in Geneva to localized, domestic conferences. The last subseries pertains to other conferences that were conducted by other student Christian movement groups or organizations such as the National Student Council of the YMCA/YWCA.
Series V: USCC Publications and Printed Materials, is comprised of all the publications or printed material produced by the USCC. Any type of material that was sent to member movements can be found here. These materials are official meeting minutes of the General Assembly, circular letters, the newsletter Communique, and study guides.
Series VI: USCC Organization and Policy Records, relates to the day to day administrative work and policies set by USCC. These records contain annual files, office procedures, tax information, and working files of student chairman.
Series VII: World Student Christian Federation, is divided into three subseries: Commissions of the WSCF, Publications and printed material, and Student Christian movements in other countries. John Deschner sat on the Political Commission of the WSCFfrom 1947-1949. This Commission’s task was to look at 1)Christian concern for politics; 2)Christianity and Communism; and 3) World order with special attention to United Nations Organization. Members of the Political Commission were John Deschner (USA), Kiang Wen-han (China), Penry Jones (UK), Philippe Maury (France), and M.M. Thomas (India). Much attention was given to Communism in Europe and China.
Series VIII: Denominational and YMCA Correspondence and Publications, consists of two subseries. The first is devoted to correspondence with the member movements while the latter subseries contains publications and printed materials created by the various member movements.
Series IX: Related Organizations, is divided into nine subseries pertaining to organizations that were related to the USCC. These include the Chinese Student Christian Association, Committee on Friendly Relations Among Foreign Students, the Interseminary Movement, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, the World Student Service Fund, and the World University Service. The ninth subseries brings together various other "related" organizations that were less central to the work of the USCC. Related organizations worked closely with the USCC, and each would cooperate on promoting programs to the universities and colleges. The Chinese Student Christian Association were in talks to become a member movement of USCC, but became a related movement instead shortly before it dissolved.
Series X: Oversize Materials, includes materials removed from other series based on their larger format.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Robert E. Speers Theological Library, Princeton Theological Seminary
- I. Provisional Council of the World Student Christian Federation in United States of America
- II. USCC Correspondence
- III. USCC Committees and Commissions
- IV. Conferences and Consultations
- V. USCC Publications and Printed Materials
- VI. USCC Organization and Policy Records
- VII. World Student Christian Federation
- VIII. Denominational and YMCA Correspondence and Publications
- IX. Related Organizations
66 Linear Feet (159 boxes)
Language of Materials
These records document the administrative history and program activities of the United Student Christian Council. The USCC was a national, federated group that sought to support and coordinate the student Christian work of various Protestant denominations, the YMCA, YWCA, Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, and the Interseminary Movement. The two main functions of USCC were to be the North American link to the World Student Christian Federation, and to work as a clearing house for meetings, consultations, and conferences. These records include correspondence between student Christian movement agencies and the USCC, correspondence between the USCC and WSCF, reports of committees, conference materials, and various publications from the USCC as well as constituent members.
Biographical / Historical
The United Student Christian Council (USCC) was formed in 1944 and was active until 1959 when it merged into the newly established National Student Christian Federation. The USCC grew out of the Provisional Council of the WSCF in the United States of America, which had been created in 1939 in order to broaden the WSCF's links in the U.S. beyond the National Intercollegiate Council (NICC) of the YMCA and YWCA. Initially, the WSCF Provisional Council included the NICC, the University Commission of the Church Boards of Education, and the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. Later, the Lutheran Student Association of America would also join.
The primary goals of the Provisional Council of the WSCF were to be the North American link to the World Student Christian Federation, and to assist in student relief and reconstruction in Europe during World War II. In 1943, the Provisional Council received permanent status from the WSCF. The following year on September 14-15, 1944 at Riverside Church in New York City, the name of the organization changed officially to the United Student Christian Council.
The goals of the USCC were to be the U.S. link to the WSCF, and to encourage cooperation between student Christian organizations on college and university campuses. The YMCA/YWCA groups and the participating Protestant denominations realized there was a duplication of work, and if they united in a federation they could reach a broader audience. It is important to note that USCC was a federation of movements brought together at the national level. Publications and/or programs that the USCC created were sent out to its constituent agencies for distribution to the regional and local levels in universities and colleges. USCC had to have complete agreement from all member movements to approve programs, projects, and even political stances on issues.
In its earliest years, USCC focused on being the U.S. arm of the WSCF. Much of its energy was spent fund-raising and promoting the work of the WSCF. The major WSCF program the USCC promoted was the Universal Day of Prayer. In addition, they coordinated the travel and speaking arrangements for WSCF visitors. WSCF secretaries such as Philippe Maury, T.Z. Koo, and K.H. Ting would tour the world giving lectures on the work of the WSCF. USCC also sent many college students abroad to work on reconstruction projects in France and Germany after World War II as well as attend the WSCF General Assembly conference. For many young Americans, it was their first exposure to global Christian issues and international ecumenicity.
In 1956, the General Committee of the WSCF created the Life and Mission of the Church project. The goal of this project was to address the changing mission of the Church in regard to evangelism and ecumenical concerns. The USCC along with its member movements adopted the Life and Mission of the Church project in 1957. All member organizations of USCC agreed on themes for conferences and programming for the next four years.
In the 1950s USCC organized a variety of conferences. An annual conference, called the General Assembly, occurred in the summer. The General Assembly was where constituent members voted on matters involving direction of the USCC, and where resolutions were adopted. In addition, the USCC's Study Department held Quadrennial Bible Study Conferences. The Study Department conferences started small, with one location during the Christmas of 1948, and grew to three simultaneous conferences across the United States in 1952. The last Ecumenical Study Conference held in 1956 took place in seven different locations in the United States. The USCC Study Department's goal was to further the of education the average Christian college student, and to make them look inward to discover the whys and hows of their faith.
The USCC worked in close relationship with the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, sharing the SVM's office space in the early years. The first Executive Secretary of the USCC was Winburn Thomas, who was also Executive Secretary of the SVM at the time. Thomas worked for USCC on a part time basis from 1945 to 1946 while a search for a permanent Executive Secretary was conducted. Some of the SVM traveling secretaries, such as Parker Rossman, also sat on committees and commissions of the USCC. In 1953, the USCC asked the SVM to become its Missionary Department, as a step toward a fully ecumenical student movement in the United States. After due consideration, the SVM agreed to this next phase, and in 1954 became the Commission on World Mission of the USCC, "temporarily relinquishing its status as a member movement of the USCC."(SVM Archives, Series V, Board of Directors, April, 1954.) This was a functional relationship that did not affect the financial and administrative autonomy of the SVM. The theory of this relationship was acceptable to the SVM, but in practice certain difficulties emerged. At a SVM Policy Committee meeting in March of 1956, it was a cause for concern that USCC member movements did not depend more on the SVM for missionary education. Along with more cooperation between the two organizations, USCC gained a place on the SVM's Board of Directors.
The most divisive issue the USCC would face concerned its relationship to the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCCC). Discussion about the USCC/NCCC relationship began in 1949, and lasted until 1953. A proposed merger would have made the USCC the Department of Campus Christian Life within the NCCC's Division of Christian Education, Commission on Christian Higher Education. At the ninth General Assembly in 1952, the vote to merge with the NCCC did not pass. The main Protestant denomination members of the USCC had no problem with the merger since they were already part of National Council of Churches, but the National Council of the YMCA and YWCA along with the Lutheran Student Association of America objected. While the dissenters were in favor of a unified student Christian movement in the U.S., they wanted insure autonomy from the larger Protestant denominations, leading to an impasse. At the tenth General Assembly in September 1953, the USCC voted yes to become a related movement to the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. in their Department of Campus Christian Life. Of this decision, Leonard Clough wrote:"Some called it selling out to the church bureaucracy, while others complained that it was a refusal to become fully related to the churches. Nevertheless, two important things were accomplished: "student work," the financing and staffing of campus ministries, was lodged in the NCCC Department of Higher Education; "student movements" cooperated through the USCC." ("The National Student Christian Federation: A Bridge between Independent Organizations and a Unified Movement" in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Summer 1995)
In 1958, at the fifteenth General Assembly, the USCC voted to dissolve and join the new National Student Christian Federation an organization to be composed of the USCC, Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, and the Interseminary Movement. All three of these organizations were related to the NCCC. By merging, they created one organization that related to the NCCC. This merger was meant to create greater cooperation in the student Christian movement, and to streamline administrative operations.
Place names were modernized in the description, with the name originally used in the collection material or in an older version of the finding aid in parenthesis: e.g. “Beijing (Peking)” or “Benin (Dahomey)”.
- Guide to the United Student Christian Council Records
- Mary N.S. Richardson
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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