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William H. Genné Papers

Call Number: RG 79

Scope and Contents

Following his graduation from Yale in 1936, Genné was active in student religious work. His files from this period, including those on the World Conference of Christian Youth in Amsterdam (1939) and the World Student Christian Federation Camp of 1939, complement other holdings of the Yale Divinity School Library in the area of religious work among college and university students. Genné went on from this early focus of his career to become an expert in the fields of marriage, sexuality and family ministries. In conjunction with his wife, Elizabeth Steel Genné, Genné conducted many workshops and wrote numerous articles for popular journals which described and influenced contemporary attitudes about marriage, sexuality and the family. His files document the issues and trends which dominated these fields, particularly during the 1950s through 1970s. The lists of conferences and organizations and subjects represented in Series III, Collected Material, indicate the scope of Genné's work.

The Correspondence of Series I deals primarily with arrangements for publications, conferences, workshops, and employment. In many cases, letters are filed under the name of an organization rather than an individual. Correspondence with R.H. Edwin Espy deals with the 1979 reunion of the 1939 Amsterdam World Conference of Christian Youth.

The Writings in Series II are those of William and Betty Genné. Genné frequently contributed articles to denominational magazines, other popular religious journals such as Christian Home, and to The Link, a periodical for soldiers published by the General Commission on Chaplains and Armed Forces Personnel. He also had articles on marriage, family life, and sexuality published in secular journals such as True Story and Redbook. The sermons and addresses in Series II stem primarily from Genné's years as a college chaplain at Pacific University and Alfred University.

The Collected Material of Series III documents the conferences, organizations, and topics that were the focal points for Genné's career. The chronologically arranged conferences range from international gatherings to Sunday school workshops. The May 1977 workshop at Trinity United Methodist Church entitled "New Life for Me and My Family" is a typical example of the Gennés' workshops on family and marriage enrichment. Of particular interest in the material arranged by organization are the files documenting the National Council of Churches' Family Ministries department. Important publications of the National Council of Churches include a study guide on abortion, collected denominational statements on sexuality, and resource guides on sexuality and sex education. The collected material arranged by subject comes from a broad range of sources such as magazine articles, government pamphlets and denominational publications. Documented most extensively are the topics of marriage/family enrichment and sexuality/sex education.

The Biographical Documentation of Series IV is biographical in a broadly defined sense. Files from different periods in Genné's life include material ranging from student papers to correspondence with the Selective Service System, reports to his employers, resumes, and documentation of television appearances. Three folders of articles about Genné provide concise information about his life and work.

The Audio-visual Material in Series V includes largely unidentified photographs related to Genné's activities as well as tapes, films and visual teaching aids used in presentations on marriage enrichment and sexuality.


  • 1917-1989


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Writings
  3. III. Collected Material
  4. IV. Biographical Documentation
  5. V. Audio-visual Material


16 Linear Feet (37 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers document Genné's religious work among college and university students. Material relating to Genné's workshops and published articles describe contemporary attitudes about marriage, family life and sexuality during the 1950s-1970s, and detail his work and influence in these fields. William Henry Genné (1910-1997) was educated at Bucknell and Yale Universities and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1934. Genné was active in student religious work in various colleges and universities in the U.S. during the period 1936-1951. From 1944 to 1947, he served as the Pacific Northwest Secretary, College and University Division, National Council of the YMCA. Genné went on from this early focus of his career to become an expert in the fields of marriage, sexuality and family ministries.

Biographical / Historical

1910 June 8
William Henry Genné born in Philadelphia, PA
A.B., Bucknell University
B.D., Yale Divinity School; ordained at First Baptist Church, Waterbury CT
M.A., Yale University
Director of Student Religious Activities - Michigan State College
1937 March 28
Married to Elizabeth Steel. Children: Nancy, 1941; William, 1943; Margaret, 1950; Susan, 1953.
Chaplain and Instructor in Sociology - Alfred University, Alfred, NY
Pacific Northwest Regional Secretary - College and University Division, National Council of YMCA
Chaplain - Pacific University
Teacher/Counsellor - The Clara Elizabeth Fund for Maternal and Family Health, Flint, Michigan
Director - Sexuality, Marriage and Family Ministries, National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Coordinator of Educational Services, Montclair Counseling Center
Program Coordinator, Geneva Point Center
1997 January 28

For additional biographical information, lists of organizational affiliations, conferences attended, and works published, see Series IV, Box 30.

Guide to the William H. Genné Papers
Compiled by James E. Monsma and Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

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