Benjamin Severance Winchester Papers
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.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Cris Carvalho, 2012
- I. Correspondence
- II. Writings
- III. Subject Files
8 Linear Feet (17 boxes)
Language of Materials
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
- 1868 February 26
- Born in Bridport, Vermont to Catharine Mary Severance Winchester and Warren Weaver Winchester, a Congregationalist minister.
- Graduated from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
- Professor of Chemistry and Natural Sciences at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington
- Received Bachelor of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary
- Studied theology on fellowship at the University of Halle in Germany
- Married Pearl (Rose) Adair Gunn of Seattle, WA
- Ordained as a Congregationalist minister
- Served as a minister, Snohomish, Washington
- Served as a minister, Portland, Oregon
- Served as a minister in the New England Church, Chicago, Illinois
- Served as minister in Winnetka, Illinois
- Received honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary
- Editor and Educational Secretary of the Congregational Sunday School Publishing Society (The Pilgrim Press) of Boston, MA
- Yale Divinity School Professor
- Pastor at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, Fairfield, Connecticut
- Education Secretary of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, Christian Education chairman
- President of the Hymn Society of America
- Pastor at the Gilbert Memorial Church (Congregationalist), Georgetown, Connecticut
- Worked heavily with the International Council of Religious Education (especially Adult Education and Education Leadership)
- 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
- Worked closely with the Hymn Society of America
- Board member of the John Milton Foundation
- Moves with Mrs. Winchester to Newtown, CT
- 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.
- Guide to the Benjamin Severance Winchester Papers
- Compiled by Benjamin Purvis
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository
409 Prospect Street
New Haven CT 06511 US