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Benjamin Severance Winchester Papers

 Collection
Call Number: RG 252

Scope and Contents

This collection provides valuable insight into the work of an early twentieth-century religious educator, Reverend Benjamin Severance Winchester. Winchester began serving in religious education and as a Congregationalist minister in 1897. He lived and worked in Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. During his career, Winchester taught religious education at multiple schools and churches, including the Yale Divinity School. He worked most extensively with the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America and the International Council of Religious Education. The collection contains valuable information on American social and religious attitudes in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s.

Series I, Correspondence, contains two types of letters. Personal Correspondence contains letters to and from Winchester’s family, friends, and former congregants. Professional Correspondence shows the diversity of Winchester’s activities and interests. Winchester corresponded with the Congregational Sunday School Publishing Society (The Pilgrim’s Press), various religious organizations, and provided professional advice. Some letters also focus on Winchester’s published writings.

Series II contains Writings by Winchester. These include pamphlets, speeches, book-length works, and published articles. Winchester published several books, but drafts here include “The Teaching Church” and “Curricula of Christian Education.” Articles in this series focus on hymns, movies, patriotism, adult education, and the debate over religious education in public schools.

Most valuable to the Winchester collection is Series III, Subject files. Included are correspondence, meeting minutes, committee reports, and pamphlets from a wide variety of religious and social organizations. Most of the Series details religious education in various fields, including sexual education, race relations education, Prohibition education, and peace education. Of particular interest are surveys completed by young people, 12 to 18 years old. The most numerous surveys come from Northeastern and Midwestern states and focus on race relations, sexual attitudes, and Prohibition opinions. Included as well are Typical and Life Situations, which were created to teach young people proper morals in real life situations. The Series also contains curriculum for Marriage and Home-life education and Family and Parent religious education.

Dates

  • 1903-1938

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Cris Carvalho, 2012

Arrangement

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Writings
  3. III. Subject Files

Extent

8 Linear Feet (17 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/divinity.252

Abstract

The collection chronicles the life and work of Benjamin Severance Winchester, who began serving as a Congregationalist minister and religious educator in 1897 and was active into the 1930s. During his career Winchester lived and worked in Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. Most of the collection details religious education curriculum in various fields, including sexual education, race relations education, Prohibition education, and peace education. Correspondence, curriculum, meeting minutes, and reports stem from Winchester’s work with multiple organizations, including the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America and the International Council of Religious Education.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology

1868 February 26
Born in Bridport, Vermont to Catharine Mary Severance Winchester and Warren Weaver Winchester, a Congregationalist minister.
1889
Graduated from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
1889-1892
Professor of Chemistry and Natural Sciences at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington
1895
Received Bachelor of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary
1895-1897
Studied theology on fellowship at the University of Halle in Germany
1897
Married Pearl (Rose) Adair Gunn of Seattle, WA
1897
Ordained as a Congregationalist minister
1897-1900
Served as a minister, Snohomish, Washington
1900-1901
Served as a minister, Portland, Oregon
1901-1903
Served as a minister in the New England Church, Chicago, Illinois
1904-1909
Served as minister in Winnetka, Illinois
1910
Received honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary
1910-1916
Editor and Educational Secretary of the Congregational Sunday School Publishing Society (The Pilgrim Press) of Boston, MA
1915-1918
Yale Divinity School Professor
1918-1926
Pastor at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, Fairfield, Connecticut
1918-1931
Education Secretary of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, Christian Education chairman
1929-1931
President of the Hymn Society of America
1931-1938
Pastor at the Gilbert Memorial Church (Congregationalist), Georgetown, Connecticut
1932-1936
Worked heavily with the International Council of Religious Education (especially Adult Education and Education Leadership)
1935
Officer on the Committee of African Welfare of the Commission on Race Relations and Committee on International Justice and Goodwill of the Federal Council of Churches
1936-1938
Worked closely with the Hymn Society of America
1937
Board member of the John Milton Foundation
1938
Moves with Mrs. Winchester to Newtown, CT
1938-1955
Active in the Newtown Congregational Church, served as chairman of the Religious Education Committee
1955 April 29
Died in Danbury, Connecticut, at the age of 87. Survived by wife, Pearl Adair Gunn Winchester, daughters Miss Margaret Winchester, Mrs. E.T. Wakeman, Mrs. R.G. Inman, and Miss Alice Winchester.
Title
Guide to the Benjamin Severance Winchester Papers
Author
Compiled by Benjamin Purvis
Date
2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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