The papers of this record group document in a complete and valuable way Pope's wide-ranging involvements in theological education, in the ecumenical movement, and in denominational religious life. His activities while Dean of the Yale Divinity School and his efforts to relate the church to various social concerns such as labor and race relations are well documented. The papers are primarily related to Pope's professional work although personal insights are readily available, particularly in the correspondence with his wife and with friends such as Albert C. Outler and Alan Paton. The wit and incisive thought that characterized Pope and often aroused controversy are evident throughout the papers. The bulk of the material in the collection falls between the years 1932 and 1962, the latter date being when Pope, for reasons of health, was forced to curtail many of his activities. Material related to the Yale Divinity School is present but not prominent in the collection.
The first series, CORRESPONDENCE, dates from 1931 to 1973. The small amount of family correspondence is not separated from the general correspondence and consists primarily of letters written by Pope to his wife in 1949 and 1956 when he was on extended trips abroad. Pope maintained correspondence with many of the leading figures in American and international life, particularly during the 1950s. Important correspondents include: Reinhold Niebuhr, H. Richard Niebuhr, G. Bromley Oxnam, Alan Paton, Anson Phelps Stokes, Henry P. Van Dusen, W. A. Visser 't Hooft and Luther A. Weigle, as well as various Yale faculty members. Much of the correspondence is organized under the corporate bodies with which Pope was extensively involved. Cross references point out prominent individuals whose correspondence is included under corporate headings. Correspondence organized under the Federal Council of Churches, National Council of Churches, and World Council of Churches provides extensive documentation of the activities of the ecumenical movement although substantive letters dealing with policy decisions are not frequent. Correspondence of the Council for Social Action and Congregational Christian Churches deals in depth with the social action policies of the Congregational denomination and related difficulties. Theological education in America and abroad is documented by the correspondence of the American Association of Theological Schools, National Council on Religion in Higher Education, Fund for Theological Education, etc.
A great many letters arranging the logistics of Pope's extensive travels for speaking engagements and committee meetings are included in the correspondence. Letters interspersed throughout the series record the response of the public to Pope's journal publications and broadcasts. Pope's particular interests in South African race relations and religious radio and television are well represented in the series.
The second series, WRITINGS/SPEECHES, consists of articles, papers, speeches, and sermons written by Pope. The material is in manuscript, typescript, and printed form and dates from 1932 to 1969. Perhaps one-fourth of the writings are sermons from Pope's early years in the Congregational ministry while the remainder relate to the entire range of his later involvements.
The third series, SUBJECT FILE/NOTES, consists primarily of Pope's holograph notes but also includes printed material, student reports and mimeographed material. The notes are related to Pope's student days, his research for publications, his teaching activities, his committee involvements and his travels abroad. The notes used for Pope's classroom presentations could be particularly useful for tracing the development of his thought. A large section of notes and printed material relates to Pope's doctoral dissertation study of Gastonia, North Carolina, which was later published as Millhands and Preachers.
The fourth series, APPOINTMENT RECORDS / DIARIES, provides a fairly complete record of Pope's daily activities from 1929 to 1964. Approximately one-fourth of the material in this series consists of the appointment books of Pope's wife, Bennie. An early diary of Pope (1929) and a diary kept during his trip to Africa in 1949 are narrative in style while the remainder of the records simply report Pope's engagements.
The fifth series, PERSONAL ITEMS AND MEMORABILIA, is arranged into the following sub-series:
- A. Biographical material
- B. Clippings, bulletins
- C. Honors, citations
- D. Photographs
- E. Scrapbook
- F. Slides