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Clarence Prouty Shedd Papers

Call Number: RG 35

Scope and Contents

One folder of biographical material precedes Series I. The papers in this record group are almost entirely related to Shedd's professional involvement in religious work among college and university students. Shedd was both trailblazer and historian for the field of religion in higher education and his extensive files provide valuable documentary material.

The first series, Correspondence, dates from 1923 to 1967. Shedd maintained voluminous correspondence with many of the important figures in his field. Letters to and from David R. Porter, John R. Mott, Harold Colvin, Edwin Espy, Henry P. Van Dusen, and others provide insight into the policy development, important issues, trials, and successes of the Student Y.M.C.A. movement. As head of the Religion in Higher Education Program at Yale, Shedd was responsible for the training of many men and women who held influential positions directing student religious life on college and university campuses. Shedd was asked on many occasions to suggest candidates for open positions or to comment on possible selections. In the latter part of his career, Shedd was particularly interested in religious education programs at state universities and colleges. The progress of various programs and legal issues involved are discussed in Shedd's correspondence with university administrators and student work leaders. In some cases, the correspondence of an individual is included under the institution or organization that he or she represented. This is true, for example, in the case of universities Shedd corresponded with when making plans for his consultative trips. Information regarding the funding of Shedd's work is available under the headings: Alden, Clark, Hazen Foundation, Teagle, and in his file of correspondence with representatives of Yale University. All correspondence to and from representatives of Yale has been filed together because as a whole it provides an informative chronological sketch of Shedd's activities from 1925 to 1955.

It should be noted that not all of Shedd's correspondence is located in Series I. Shedd maintained a personal correspondence file and a source material file. The source material file was developed for the use of Shedd's students at Yale and for his personal use in documenting trends and issues in religion in higher education. The location of correspondence originally found in the source material file has not been changed. For instance, Shedd wrote to many universities requesting that they send printed material which would provide relevant information for his study of religion in state universities. Correspondence related to Shedd's obtaining this material remains in the source material file. To give another example, Shedd served as co-secretary of Commission VII of the National Student Faculty Conference in Detroit, 1930. Included with the drafts, revisions and final copy of the Commission's report in the source material file is correspondence regarding commission member selection, meeting times, etc. The majority of Shedd's substantive correspondence is in Series I, though a significant portion of the Series I correspondence also deals with technical matters such as arrangements for trips, obtaining funding, and scheduling meetings.

The second series, Writings, is divided into three subsections:

Addresses and Lectures


Book Reviews

All of the material in this series was written by Shedd. It covers the period from 1925 to 1966, thus providing insight into the development of Shedd's thought throughout his career.

The third series, Source Material, includes printed material, mimeographed reports, Shedd's notes on various subjects, reports and studies done by his students, completed questionnaires on various subjects, material related to the Religion in Higher Education program at Yale, etc. This series accounts for 67 of the 89 boxes in the collection. Shedd gathered source material on subjects ranging from women in higher education to the effects of World War II on religion in higher education to student summer conferences to fraternities to work among Negro students. Also included in this series is the material Shedd gathered while researching his three major publications: The Church Follows Its Students (published 1938), History of the World Alliance of Y.M.C.A.'s (1955), and Two Centuries of Student Christian Movements (1934).

An effort has been made to retain Shedd's organization of his source material files. Because of this, it is occasionally true that material on a particular topic can be found under two different headings. For example, material regarding summer conferences for students can be found under the heading "Student Summer Conferences" and under the heading "Two Centuries of Student Christian Movements - source material: Student Summer Conferences". In other cases it should be noted that material on a particular subject may be found under headings other than the most obvious heading. For example, a researcher concerned with the status of African Americans in student association work would find material of interest not only under the heading "Negroes" in the source material file, but also under the headings "National Student-Faculty Conference, Detroit 1930" and "Religion in Higher Education - Yale Program: Dissertation proposals, McKinney". Further relevant material would be found in Shedd's correspondence with representatives of the Y.M.C.A.

The source material file is voluminous and much of the material may be of limited significance. Scattered throughout, however, is primary source material and raw survey data which could be useful in tracing the history of religious work among college and university students.


  • 1915-1967


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1923-1967
  2. II. Writings, 1925-1966
  3. III. Source Material, 1920s-1940s


36 Linear Feet (89 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The collection consists of correspondence, writings, and source material related almost entirely to Shedd's professional involvement in religious work among college and university students. Clarence Prouty Shedd received the B.A. degree in 1909 and the M.A. degree in 1914, both from Clark University, and earned a B.D. in 1925 and a Ph.D. in 1932 from Yale University. He taught in the fields of Christian methods and religion in higher education at Yale University from 1923 to 1955.

Biographical / Historical

Born in Worcester, Mass.
Student Y.M.C.A. Secretary on the local, regional and national levels
B.A., Clark University
M.A., Clark University
Traveled in Europe as member of commission making recommendations for European Student Relief
Elected fellow of the National Council of Religion in Higher Education
Lecturer on Student Work, Yale University
Lecturer on Religious Education, Yale
B.D., Yale
Assistant Professor of Christian Methods, on Stephen Merrell Clement Foundation, Yale
Associate Professor of Christian Methods, Yale
Dean of School for Student Y.M.C.A. Presidents held as part of the summer session at Union Theological Seminary. Shedd taught at various summer sessions throughout his career.
Sabbatical year in Europe, studying the Student Christian Movement in European universities
Ph.D., Yale
Member of National Commission on Consultations about Student Christian Work
Stephen Merrell Clement Professor of Christian Methods, Yale
1941-1942, 1945-1947
Consultative trips to state universities in the U.S.
Sabbatical year in Switzerland doing research for a history of the World's Alliance of Y.M.C.A.'s
L.H.D., Clark University
Professor Emeritus
1955, fall semester
Visiting Lecturer in Religious Education and Psychology, Union Theological Seminary
Visiting Professor, Pacific School of Religion
D.D., Pacific School of Religion
Guide to the Clarence Prouty Shedd Papers
Compiled by 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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