World Student Christian Federation Archives, Yale, 1895-1925

World Student Christian Federation Archives, Yale, 1895-1925
A selection from the archives at Yale Divinity School Library

Training ground for future 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.

Correspondence and History
The records of the World Student Christian Federation held by Yale Divinity School Library constitute the official WSCF archives from 1895 to 1925, but go on to document Federation activities through World War II. A unique classification system, modeled after the Dewey Decimal System, was developed specifically for the archives and the library of the WSCF in the early part of the 20th century by Mrs. Grace J. Livingston, and later updated by Miss Ruth Rouse. The materials chosen for inclusion in this collection are from the "300", "800" and "900" sections of this classification system, representing the "Organization", "Correspondence" and "History" sections of the archive. The materials are subdivided by geographical areas.

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.

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. 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.

Martha Smalley, Yale Divinity School Library & Paul Stuehrenberg, Yale Divinity School Library

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