The Edwin Harold Rian Manuscript Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Rian, Edwin H. (Edwin Harold), 1900-
Dates: 1927-2007
Extent: 2 box (1.0 linear feet)
Language(s): English
Repository: Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries. Special Collections.


1900 April 27 Born, Minneapolis, Minnesota
1924 Graduated, University of Minnesota
1924-1927 Student, Bachelor of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
1927 Graduated, Master of Arts, Princeton University
1927 April 27 Ordained, Presbytery of New Brunswick
1927-1928 Princeton Fellow, University of Berlin, Germany
1928 Princeton Fellow, University of Marburg, Germany
1929-1930 Assistant pastor, Presbyterian Church, Westfield, New Jersey
1931-1946 President, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1948-1950 Vice-President, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas
1949 Honorary doctorate, Bob Jones University
1950-1954 Vice-President, Beaver College (now called Arcadia University), Glenside, Pennsylvania
1954-1960 President, Jamestown College, North Dakota
1955 Honorary doctorate, Huron College
1960 Honorary doctorate, Jamestown College
1960-1963 President, Biblical Seminary, New York City
1961 Honorary doctorate, Moravian College
1964-1967 President, Institute for Educational Planning
1967-1979 Assistant President, Princeton Theological Seminary
1995 August 22 Died, San Diego, California

Biographical Information

Dr. Rian was a young leader of that conservative segment of the Presbyterian Church which formed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church denomination and Westminster Theological Seminary. After serving as an assistant pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Westfield, New Jersey, Dr. Rian became field secretary for Westminster Theological Seminary, 1931-36, in charge of raising support. He served as president of that school's board of trustees, 1936-46. In 1940 he wrote The Presbyterian Conflict, a history of the controversies within the Presbyterian Church, which has recently been reprinted.

In 1947, Dr. Rian announced he had come to a new understanding of the unity of the Church and resigned his positions within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He was subsequently re-ordained by the PCUSA which had earlier defrocked him. He went on to serve as vice-president or president at several significant educational institutions, including Trinity University (Texas), Beaver College (Pennsylvania, now Arcadia University), Jamestown College (North Dakota), Biblical Seminary (New York), and the Institute for Educational Planning (New York). He became the assistant to the President at Princeton Seminary in 1969, where he served for more than ten years. He also authored and edited several books.


Scope and Content

This collection includes biographical materials, autobiographical materials, news clippings about Dr. Rian's career, and various mementos from his life.



Rian, Edwin Harold, 1900---Manuscripts.

Princeton Theological Seminary. Library. Manuscript collections.


Administrative Information

Processing Information

This collection of was given to the Seminary Libraries by Dr. Rian in 1994, with additional materials given by his family in February of 1997. This collection was processed, and the original finding aid was written in the September of 1996, by Raymond D. Cannata, under the direction of William O. Harris, Archivist. The finding aid was revised in May of 2002, and edited by Sarah Seraphin and Daved Anthony Schmidt in May of 2009. Additional materials were received in August, 2013 from Abigail Rian Evans, and the additions were processed by Bob Golon, Manuscript Librarian.


There are no special restrictions to the 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 Edwin Harold Rian Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.


Related Material

See also the following materials in Special Collections:

Tapes #0331 - 0334, PTS Archives Audio Collection, 1990 oral histories by Dr. Rian outlining his career with particular reference to his relationship with Professor J. Gresham Machen, the difficulties at Princeton Seminary and the development of Westminster Seminary. Also included is a lengthy discussion of student life in Germany in the mid-1920s and his relations with Professor Harnick. Dr. Rian Gives many details about his boyhood and youth, his return to the Presbyterian Church USA and his career as a college administrator. Dr. Rian had these tapes transcribed and they were sent to his home in California. The Library does not have a copy of the transcription of the tapes.

The PTS Media Services Department has archived three audio tapes of Dr. Rian's 1979 and 1983 class lectures on the conflicts of the 1920s and 1930s. These two lectures were delivered in the course on American Church History and are largely devoted to Dr. Rian's relationship to Dr. Machen and the division in Princeton Seminary in the late 1920s.

The Abigail Rian Evans Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library, Special Collections



Box 1
- "Wessel Gansfort as a Forerunner of the Reformation," thesis by Rian, Princeton Seminary. 1927
- "Theological Conflicts of the 1920s and 1930s in the Presbyterian Church and on the Princeton Campus," by Rian, Princeton Seminary Bulletin, vol. V, no. 3. 1984
- "The Renewal of a City Church," by Rian, Princeton Seminary Bulletin, vol. LXIV. 1971
- "The Saga," autobiographical notes.
- Other autobiographical notes.
- Notes on oral histories of Rian (PTS Archives Audio Collection tapes #0331 - 0334).
- Biographical materials.
- Jamestown College items. 1954-1960
- Christianity and World Revolution, edited by Rian, advertisement.
- Rian's 1981 trip to Norway and Norwegian newspaper interview and article on American politics. 1981
- Clippings regarding Dr. Machen's death. January, 1937
- Princeton Seminary alumni reunions. 1992-1994
- Financial planning items, Institute for Educational Planning
- Death of Mrs. Alice Carlton Rian 1985
- Other Norwegian family items.
- Family reunion photo, for Rian's 90th birthday. 1990
- Photographs.
- Miscellaneous materials.
- Papers related to the Institute for Educational Planning
- Rian's 1947 article, "Why I am Re-entering the Ministry of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A." (Reprinted in the Advocate 1947
- Notes for the book, Making of a Revolutionary
- Correspondence with Pearl S. Buck
Box 2
- Correspondence, Adams, Norman R., November 25, 1947
- Correspondence, Anderson, Harrison Ray, June 13, 1947
- Correspondence, Bell, J. Leslie, June 13, 1947
- Correspondence, Cassell, Fred, April 17, 1989
- Correspondence, Cropp, Frederick W., June 16, 1947
- Correspondence, Evans, Abigail Rian, (birthday card from daughter) 1958
- Correspondence, McIntire, Esther and Robert, undated
- Correspondence, Pulliam, Bobby K., 1962-1963
- Correspondence, Quay, Dr. James K., January 1962
- Correspondence, Smith, Clifford S., July 2, 1947
- Correspondence, Taylor, Robert T., June 30, 1947
- Correspondence, Townsend, Everett D., May 1, 1961
- Correspondence, Turck, Charles J., August-October 1963
- Correspondence, Watermulder, David, February 22, 1992
- Correspondence, Whitney, Arthur P., January 28, 1964
- Correspondence, Woodcock, Rev. John R., June 17, 1947
- Correspondence, unidentified writer, in German, January 1958
- Correspondence, signed by “John” (no last name), December 5, 1963
- “Why I am Re-Entering the Ministry of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.,” (typescript) and articles pertaining to, April-June 1947
- Rian Memorial Service, 1995
- Rian Family Portrait Project, 1995
- Rian Scholarship, 1997-2007
- Edwin Rian Documents, 1957
- Rian Lectureship – handwritten notes, Gillespie’s Speech, May 21, 2004
- The Lord’s Prayer, in Norwegian language, undated
- Edwin Rian Diary (photocopy), 1928
- Edwin Rian Files – Special Collections
- Edwin Rian Files – Autobiographical notes
- Rian documents for President Torrance
- Edwin Rian Documents – Originals copied for President Torrance


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