Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Manuscript Collections :
Synthetic Collections :

Presbyterian Journal Records

Record Group #42
Boxes #148-247; 300-301

Content Summary: The contents of this collection have been arranged under the following series or subgroups: Correspondence; Subject Files; Letters to the Editor; Biographical Files; Photograph Files

Span dates: 1942-1987 Size: 52.0 cu. ft. (102 boxes)

Access: This collection is open to researchers.

Preferred citation:
PCA Historical Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

Related Collections:
The Presbyterian Journal [periodical collection], 1942 - 1987


Abstract:Scope and Content Note:
            The first issue of The Southern Presbyterian Journal appeared in May of 1942.  Dr. L. Nelson Bell, Dr. Henry B. Dendy and a handful of like-minded men had founded the magazine to combat the liberalism that was beginning to influence the Southern Presbyterian Church [the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., or PCUS].  The Journal began in Weaverville, North Carolina, but later moved to Asheville, North Carolina.  The magazine continued under the name The Southern Presbyterian Journal until 1959, at which time the name was changed to The Presbyterian Journal. This name change coincided with a change of editors. Henry B. Dendy had originally signed on as editor at Bell's urging. As he stated at his resignation, "the temporary position stretched out to over seventeen years." Dendy continued to serve as managing editor and business manager as the post of Editor was handed over to the Rev. G. Aiken Taylor. That change was effective with the October 7, 1959 issue (Vol. 18, No. 23). Taylor was committed to continuing Nelson Bell’s agenda:  awakening Southern Presbyterians to the decline of their church.  However, Taylor had a different result in mind.  He despaired of reforming the PCUS and worked toward a large, non-regional, conservative Presbyterian denomination.

            No one was more instrumental in organizing the Presbyterian Church in America, and making it a national denomination, than Aiken Taylor.  Ironically, the formation of the PCA—the Journal’s main goal as far as Taylor was concerned—caused the beginning of a long decline in circulation.  As more and more Journal readers became PCA members, there was decreasing need for a periodical designed to warn of liberalism in the PCUS.  Dr. Taylor left the Journal in 1983 [to serve as president of the Biblical Seminary of Hatfield, PA] , and he died shortly after his departure.  Dr. William S. Barker became editor, but the Journal continued for only a few more years.  Its last issue was that of March 18, 1987.
            This collection consists primarily of G. Aiken Taylor’s Journal files.  Many other people are represented, however, in the extensive correspondence, in the personal files, and even in the subject files.  There is also a small amount of material from William Barker and from editors Arthur Matthews and Joel Belz.  The collection covers the period from 1959 to 1985, but most of it dates from the 1960s and early 1970s.
            The Journal Collection is divided into five sections:  Correspondence, Subject Files (by far the largest section, containing diverse material, including more correspondence), Letters to the Editor (mainly from the period after Dr. Taylor left), Personal Files (information mostly about people), and Photograph Files.
            Several comments concerning the value of the Journal Collection should be made:

  • These papers are valuable as a reflection of the attitudes of conservative Protestants of all denominations—and conservative politically as well as theologically—toward liberalizing tendencies in mainline Protestant denominations (primarily the PCUSA and UPCUSA) and in American culture.
  • The provide extensive documentation of these liberalizing trends.
  • They show the complex relationships between political, social, and theological alignment.
  • They provide extensive, first-hand documentation of attitudes and movements that led to the formation of the PCA.
  • They provide documentation of cooperation among conservative denominations (as in NAPARC and NPRF, for example)        
  • They deal with the church as a whole.  Correspondence is from clergy and laymen alike; material collected is equally wide in focus.  This collection is not necessarily scholarly, and its subject matter is not limited.

Processing: David Allen Calhoun, then a student at Covenant Theological Seminary, was responsible for the processing of the bulk of the Presbyterian Journal records.  He completed this work in August of 1990, with the preparation of the Scope and Content Note which is reproduced above.  His biographical sketch of G. Aiken Taylor is also provided here.  Finding aids, originally prepared by Mr. Calhoun, have been modified slightly and migrated into HTML format by Mr. Wayne Sparkman.

Related Collections: Presbyterian Journal magazine, May 2, 1942 - March 18, 1987; G. Aiken Taylor Papers; L. Nelson Bell Papers (at the Billy Graham Center Archives, Collection #318)

Series Inventory for the Presbyterian Journal Collection:

Series Dates Boxes
I. Correspondence 1959 - 1983 148 - 155
II. Subject Files 1942 - 1983 156 - 226
III. Letters to the Editor 1984 - 1985 227 - 228
IV. Personal Files (i.e., Biographical Files) 1959 - 1983 229 - 240
V. Photograph Files 1959 - 1983 241 - 247


In addition to the above boxes, another two cubic feet of records dating from the closing of the Journal have been donated but have yet to be arranged and described.

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