World Student Christian Federation Archives, Geneva, 1919-1956
World Student Christian Federation Archives, Geneva, 1919-1956 A selection from the Geneva archives
Formation of the WSCF The formation of the WSCF was a radical step toward ecumenical cooperation at a time when no other worldwide, non-Roman Catholic Christian agency based on independent national organizations existed. Advances in transportation and communication at the end of the nineteenth century made realization of the WSCF vision feasible. The work was carried out through conferences and committee meetings, publications, exchanges of literature, and visits to national movements by its secretaries and agents. From its purely Protestant origins, it expanded its membership in 1911 to include Orthodox Christians.
Training ground for Church leaders The Federation served as a training ground for many individuals who later became prominent in the worldwide life of the Church, including Bishop Azariah of India, Bishop Honda of Japan, T.Z. Koo of China, Nathan Söderblom of Sweden, J.H. Oldham and William Temple of Great Britain, John R. Mott, and W.A. Visser 't Hooft. The reports and letters included in this collection provide insight into the contexts and issues that informed the development of the Church in North and South America, continental Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and other areas. Also, the role of women in the international student Christian movement is well documented.
New perspectives on world issues In its early years, the WSCF focused its energies on the formation and stabilization of national student movements, calling students to the Christian faith and the evangelization of the world. The First World War and its aftermath changed the emphases of the Federation as social problems, international relations, and the issues of pacifism and war came to the foreground. In 1920, the WSCF founded European Student Relief, a vast program of social service provided to thousands of students (later to be carried on by an independent body called International Student Service).
Turbulent time in Church history The WSCF has been an international interpreter and mediator for national student Christian movements through decades of changing issues, goals, and events. This material has been collected under the supervision of John R. Mott. Detailed reports from the field have been combined with records of theological reflection to provide fascinating reading and valuable "on the ground" documentation of a turbulent time in the world and in Church history.
Organization of the collection While the WSCF archives at Yale date primarily from the period when John R. Mott was General Secretary and Chairman of the organization (1895-1929), the Geneva materials are the official archives of the WSCF from 1925 onward. This collection focuses on the period 1919 to 1956, with some overlap of dates with the earlier collection in order to avoid gaps of documentation during the period of transition of the base of operations from North America to Geneva.
Correspondence and Reports The materials chosen for inclusion in this collection are of the same genre as those selected from the earlier archives, including reports and correspondence of committees, conferences, national student movements, secretaries, and officers of the WSCF. Whereas the WSCF archives at Yale were organized according to geographical or topical divisions, and then chronologically within those divisions, the organization of the Geneva archives tends more toward division first by chronological periods, and then by categories such as "Countries," "Secretaries," "Conferences," "Correspondence," etc.
This publication was made possible by the generous support of the Kenneth Scott Latourette Fund, Yale Divinity School Library
Martha Smalley, Yale Divinity School Library & Paul Stuehrenberg, Yale Divinity School Library