The Joseph Ross Stevenson Manuscript Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Stevenson, J. Ross (Joseph Ross), 1866-1939
Dates: 1887-1939
Extent: 23 Boxes (10.3 linear feet)
Language(s): English
Repository: Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries. Special Collections.


1866 March 1 Born, Ligonier, Pennsylvania
1886 B.A., Washington and Jefferson College
1889 M.A., Washington and Jefferson College; B.D., McCormick Theological Seminary
1889-1890 Student, University of Berlin
1890 Ordained, PCUSA
1890-1894 Pastor, Broadway Presbyterian Church, Sedalia, Missouri
1894-1897 Adjunct Professor, Ecclesiastical History, McCormick Theological Seminary
1897-1902 Professor, Ecclesiastical History, McCormick Theological Seminary
1902-1909 Pastor, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, New York
1902-1929 Member, Board of Directors, Princeton Theological Seminary
1909-1914 Pastor, Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland
1914-1936 President and Professor of History of Religions and Christian Missions, Princeton Theological Seminary
1923-1936 Instructor, Homiletics, Princeton Theological Seminary
1939 August 13 Died, Princeton, New Jersey

Biographical Information

President Stevenson received honorary doctorates from Washington and Jefferson College (1897), Ursinus College (1908), Lafayette College (1915), University of Edinburgh, Scotland (1919), and Presbyterian Theological College, Halifax, Canada (1920). He was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. in 1915.


Scope and Content

This collection consists of President Stevenson's personal papers, as well as material about him collected by the Seminary Libraries. Content includes sermons, addresses, ecumenism papers, correspondence, and other files.



Stevenson, J. Ross (Joseph Ross), 1866-1939--Manuscripts.

Princeton Theological Seminary. Library. Manuscript collections.


Administrative Information

Processing Information

This collection was processed, and the original finding aid was written by Raymond Cannata in April of 1996, under the direction of William O. Harris, Archivist. The finding aid was edited by Sarah Malone in July 2008.

The J. Ross Stevenson manuscript collection consists of papers relating to President Stevenson gathered from a number of sources. President Stevenson's manuscripts of sermons and addresses appear to have been organized under his direction into three distinct sets: "sermons," "formal addresses," and "informal addresses." These were carefully maintained during the entire course of his ministry. Each manuscript was given a cover, which was labeled with appropriate information: title, biblical text, dates and places of delivery. Each covered manuscript was assigned a number and filed in order. The only exception to this system regards the "informal addresses," which were assigned several numerical schemes which do not run concurrently. All these sermons and addresses were later wrapped in bundles and labeled.

In approximately 1989 the sermons and addresses were removed from these bundles and placed in archival file boxes in the "Alumni Alcove" collection of the Library Archives Department. Gathered with these boxes at that time were other miscellaneous papers related to President Stevenson. A collection of correspondence to and from President Stevenson, largely relating to the "Re-organization controversy" of the 1920's, had been donated to the library some time earlier by his widow. These had been sealed and remained inaccessible until the April of 1996.

Another set of papers was given to the Seminary on December 6, 1984 by the Stevenson family. This consisted of twenty-one groups of items, including President Stevenson's diary, scrapbook, pastoral journal, memorabilia, published writings, and correspondence. A typed inventory of these items has been preserved. Some other miscellaneous papers relating to President Stevenson, of unknown origin, were shelved with these items. These largely consisted of papers on the ecumenical movement collected by Dr. Stevenson, 1936-1939. Photocopies of newspaper clippings and biographical items from the Archives' office files were added when the collection was organized in April 1996.

Additional papers were discovered shortly thereafter in the Archives' "File D," which currently form an addendum to the collection. President Stevenson's sermon and address file was added to the archives in January 2008. It is meant to be preserved “as is.”


There are no special restrictions to access of this collection. It may be examined by library patrons under the normal rules and conditions of Special Collections.

Use of Materials

The following is the acceptable citation for publication: The Joseph Ross Stevenson Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.


Related Material

See also the following manuscript materials in Special Collections:

The James Oscar Boyd Manuscript Collection

The John Gresham Machen Manuscript Collection

The Alexander Napier MacLeod Manuscript Collection

The Ethelbert Warfield Manuscript Collection

The H. Clare Welker Manuscript Collection

See also the following oral histories in the PTS Audio Cassette Collection:

Allan A. MacRae (Tapes #0314, 0323, 0324, 0467)

Carl McIntire (Tapes #0310,0404)

Edwin Rian (Tapes #0331-0334)



This collection has been arranged into six series by subject, with respect to their original order at the time of accession. They include: Sermons, Addresses (formal, informal, and miscellaneous), Ecumenism Papers, Biographical Materials (including correspondence files),"Reorganization Controversy" Papers, and Addendum (including personal papers and correspondence files).



Series 1: Sermons
Box 1: Sermons, numbers 1-50
Box 2: Sermons, numbers 51-100
Box 3: Sermons, numbers 201-275
Box 4: Sermons, numbers 276-400
Box 5: Sermons, numbers 401-525
Box 6: Sermons, numbers 526-675
Box 7: Sermons, numbers 676-776
Box 8: Sermons, numbers 776-850
Box 9: Sermons, numbers 851-901
Series 2: Addresses: Informal
Box 10: "Package 1"
Box 11: "Packages 2 and 3"
Box 12: "Package 4"
Series 2: Addresses: Formal
Box 13: Addresses, numbers 1-100
Box 14: Addresses, numbers 101-300
Series 2: Addresses: Miscellaneous
Box 15: Miscellaneous sermons and addresses, bulk 1887-1891
Series 3: Ecumenism Papers
Box 16: Faith and Order Movement; A.A. Brux case (1932); church union in Iran (1937); World Council of Churches; Proposed Episcopal-Presbyterian Union (1937-38). Correspondence, reports, printed materials, and mailings. See also Box 18:8 (Shrine Controversy in Korea, 1936-38).
Series 4: Biographical Materials
17:1 Bound diary; including a "Record of Events in My Life," (1889 June 2-1902 January 19).
17:2 Four pages of journal material, (1896 June 7).
17:3 Scrapbook, (1897-1939).
17:4 Pastor's ledger, (1890 October 12-1913 December).
17:5 Stevenson's copy of, Historical Sketch and Centennial Celebration of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York City, 1808-1809.
17:6 Grade transcripts from Washington and Jefferson College, (1884 December 24).
17:7 Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, University of Edinburgh, (1919 July 10).
Series 4: Biographical Materials, continued
Box 18
18:1 Newspaper and journal clippings; mementos.
18:2 Obituaries, death notices, and memorials.
18:3 Family Papers: ancestors, genealogy.
18:4 Family Papers: descendants, modern family. Correspondence of gifts to the Princeton Seminary Archives (formerly in Speer Library), (1984).
18:5 Published writings of Stevenson: "The Historical Position of Princeton Seminary" (1928), "Address...on the plan...for Union" (1934), "Pioneer Period of American Presbyterianism..." (1933), "The Spirit of Elijah" (sermon, 1903), and "The Presbyterian Church and Revival of Religion."
18:6 Two letters from Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church parishioners to Stevenson (n.d.), regarding hymn selection, enclosed in a booklet, "Facts About Church Music," (1904).
18:7 Letter from Sylvester Beach (Secretary of the P.T.S. Board of Directors) confirming Stevenson's acceptance of the call to the Presidency of Princeton Seminary, (1914 July 2).
18:8 Letters to Stevenson regarding "Shrine Controversy" in Korea ; papers and reports 1936-1938
18:9 Thirteen letters to Stevenson regarding various calls to positions he received and honors he was granted.
18:10 Letter from L.B. Crane to Stevenson, (1914 August 2).
18:11 Letter from Florence Day Stevenson (President Stevenson's wife) to Edna Hatfield (President Stevenson's secretary), with lists of Princeton Seminary Bulletin subscribers.
18:12 Letter from Florence Day Stevenson to Mr. Roberts, (1939 November 13).
18:13 Letter from Paul Martin to Stevenson, In re Machen trial, (1934 August 24).
18:14 Letters from Stevenson to his wife.
18:15 Letters to Mrs. Stevenson.
Series 5: "Re-Organization" Controversy Papers
Box 19
19:1 Correspondence: Stevenson and S. Beach, (1928 September 1, 6).
19:2 Correspondence: M. Linn Bruce to Stevenson, (1928 December 28)
19:3 Correspondence: Stevenson to Directors, (1928 December 28).
19:4 Correspondence: Judge Huston Dixon to Stevenson, (1927 December 13; 1928 February 28).
19:5 Correspondence: E.J. Fox (attorney, Easton, PA) to Stevenson, (1927 November 15, 17, 19, 22; 1928 March 14,29; 1929 May 31, July 30).
19:6 Correspondence: George N. Luccock to Stevenson; Attached letter, (1928 March 5).
19:7 Correspondence: John McDowell (Secretary of Trustees) to Robert H. McCarter (1928 January 28); W. Holden to Stevenson (1928 February); Robert Carter to John McDowell (1928 February 1); Thomas W. Synnott to Stevenson, (1928 February).
19:8 Correspondence: Unknown individual to Judge Dixon, (1927 December 20).
19:9 Correspondence: Robert H. McCarter to Stevenson, (1927 November 25).
19:10 Correspondence: Unknown individual to John McDowell (Secretary of Trustees), (1928 March 16); Thomas W. Synnott (President of Trustees) to Stevenson (1928 February 28); John McDowell to Stevenson (1928 February 28); J. McDowell to members of the Trustees (1928 February 28); J. McDowell to Stevenson (1928 March 6); John McDowell to Stevenson (1928 March 2).
19:11 Correspondence: Thomas W. Synnott to Stevenson (1928 March 1); Unknown individual (Trenton, NJ) to Synnott (1928 January 6).
19:12 Correspondence: Unknown individual to W.O. Thompson, (1928 February 28).
19:13 Correspondence: Unknown individual to Stevenson, (1928 February 28).
19:14 Correspondence: Seven letters from seminary presidents, In re structures of their boards and faculties; list of structures compiled by Stevenson, (1927 November 18-23).
19:15 Correspondence: (Baltimore Presbyterian physician) to Samuel Craig (editor, The Presbyterian), In re Frank Stevenson's article, (1928 January 20).
19:16 Correspondence: John McDowell to Stevenson (1928 March 15); Lewis S. Mudge (Stated Clerk of General Assembly) to McDowell (1928 March 15); Unknown individual to Judge Thomas Bradley(1928 March 15); McDowell to Stevenson (1928 March 12).
19:17 Correspondence: Unknown individual to Judge Fox, (1927 November 16).
19:18 Draft letter of General Assembly Committee on Princeton Seminary, (undated).
19:20 Two papers written by Stevenson on the reorganization controversy, (circa 1926-29).
19:21 Transcript of hearings of Genral Assemby Committee to visit Princeton Seminary, (1927 January 5-6).
19:22 Miscellaneous printed items, In re reorganization controversy.
19:23 Minority report for committee on lecturers and preachers, In re Machen, (1925 October 10).
19:24 Telegrams and notes In re 1929 General Assembly decisions.
19:25 Princeton Defense Committee.
19:26 Miscellaneous correspondence.
Series 6: Addendum, from "File D"
Box 20
Personal Papers
20:1 History of Religions and Missions courses.
20:2 Eight sets of homiletics course notes, (circa 1927-35).
20:3 Junior homiletics course notes, (1935).
20:4 Significant manuscript addresses, chiefly on ecumenism and theological education.
20:5 Personal photographs.
20:6 Annotated copy of Princeton Seminary Bulletin, "Alumni Special," (1921 June).
Correspondence: Set I, arranged by correspondent
Box 21
21:1 W.S. Plumer Bryan, (1923-1924).
21:2 John DeWitt, 1894-1898
21:3 Charles R. Erdman, (1913-1914).
21:4 Benjamin Lewis Hobson (McCormick Seminary) In re Princeton Seminary, (1913 June 11).
21:5 Henry W. Jessup, (1906-1913).
21:6 Samuel Zwemer, (1911-1914).
Correspondence: Set II, arranged chronologically
21:7 Letters and telegrams, In re call to Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, (1902).
21:8 Appreciation from Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, (1909).
21:9 Partial alphabetical list of correspondence, (1909-1914).
21:10 Letters to Stevenson, (1909).
21:11 Letters to Stevenson (1910).
21:12 Letters to Stevenson (1911).
21:13 Letters to Stevenson (1912).
21:14 Letters to Stevenson (1913).
21:15 Letters to Stevenson (1915).
21:16 Miscellaneous undated letters to Stevenson, (circa 1909-1914).
21:17 Letters In re call to Princeton and Inaugural, (1914-1915).
21:18 Letters upon election to Moderatorship of General Assembly of P.C.U.S.A.
Box 22
22:1 Letters and papers In re Andover Seminary, (1926-1930).
22:2 Farewell letter from Princeton Seminary, (1936 September 19).
22:3 Letters In re Concord Presbytery Affair (deposing Charles Woodbridge), (1937-1938).
22:4 Typescript of responses to Trustees' invitations to memorial service, (1939).
22:5 Resolutions of official bodies In re Stevenson's death, (1939).
22:6 Letters to Mrs. Stevenson In re Stevenson's death, (1939).
22:7 Miscellaneous letters to Stevenson, (1893-1939).
Correspondence: Set III, "Reorganization Controversy," arranged by correspondent
22:8 William Park Armstrong, (1928 February 7, 9, 10).
22:9 Andrew W. Blackwood, (1928 March 22).
22:10 William Jennings Bryan, In re John D. Davis, evolution, church division, (1925 June 18, 25)
22:11 Henry Sloane Coffin, (1928 February 23, 25, 29).
22:12 Peter K. Emmons, (1928 June 28).
22:13 Charles R. Erdman, (1928 July 9).
22:14 J.M.T. Finney, (1928 June 26).
22:15 Herbert Adams Gibbons (56 letters).
22:16 Henry W. Jessup, (1927 December 8).
22:17 James Walter Lowrie, (1928 March 22).
22:18 George Luccock, (1928 July 7).
22:19 J. Gresham Machen, (1926 December 18).
22:20 Minot C. Morgan, (1928 July 12; February 25).
22:21 Wallace Radcliffe, (1928 February 24; July 10).
22:22 Robert E. Speer, (1928 August 17, 24; September 4).
22:23 Robert Dick Wilson, (April 16 1928).
Box 23
President Stevenson's sermon and address files in wooden file box.


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