Special Collections Overview
On this page: Popular Research Tools, Archives of Princeton Theological Seminary, Rare Book and Pamphlet Collections, Research Collections, Personal Papers and Manuscripts, Records of Organizations, and Non-Textual Materials.
Special Collections at the Princeton Theological Seminary Library comprise more than 75,000 printed works and over 5,175 linear feet of archival and manuscript material. Major collections include the Seminary archives, rare books and pamphlets, personal papers, records of organizations, research collections, and non-textual materials related to the history of the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions and ecumenical Christianity.
Particular strengths of Special Collections are its documentation of the Seminary’s history, including works by and about Seminary faculty; American Presbyterianism; English and American Puritanism; Presbyterian missions; hymnology; works by and about Reformed theologians Karl Barth and Abraham Kuyper; and the history of Presbyterians in Korea.
Popular Research Tools
The Archives of Princeton Theological Seminary
Special Collections is the repository for the historical records (archives) of the Seminary. These records provide source material for understanding the Seminary's impact on intellectual, social, and cultural developments in the United States and abroad.
The archives collection includes institutional records, photographs, and other materials produced by administrative offices, academic departments, individual faculty and students, and official and unofficial campus organizations. Material in the Seminary archives is augmented by the personal papers of numerous faculty and alumni/ae.
Rare Book and Pamphlet Collections
Among the materials housed in Special Collections are many rare texts, Bibles and early imprints. Many of the important books and pamphlets in the collection have come from the unique collections developed by William B. Sprague, Samuel Agnew, Alexander B. Grosart, Louis F. Benson, and James R. Tanis.
Rare Textual Materials
- Cuneiform tablets
- Oxyrhynchus papyri
- Hebrew scrolls
- Syriac manuscripts
- Byzantine Gospel lectionary
- Latin Bibles printed before 1500 (1479-1497)
- Complutensian Polyglot (1514-1517)
- Erasmus' Greek New Testament (1516)
- Theodore Beza's Greek New Testament (1565)
- Geneva Bible (1569)
- Huguenot Bible (ca. 1580)
- King James Bible (1611)
- Biblia germanica, Lübeck (1494)
- Peter Lombard, Sentences (ca. 1468)
- Ludolph of Saxony, Life of Christ, folio (1474)
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, first Latin edition (1536) and last French edition published within Calvin's lifetime (1559)
- Cambridge Platform (1649)
- William Law, Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, first edition (1729)
Early American Printed Sermons
- Increase Mather, Returning Unto God: A Sermon (1680) and The Order of the Gospel Professed and Practiced by the Churches of Christ in New England (1700)
- Samuel Willard, The Duty of a People that have Renewed Their Covenant with God: A Sermon (1680)
- Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections (1746)
Sprague Collection of Early American Religious Pamphlets
The Sprague Collection of Early American Religious Pamphlets includes more than 20,000 theological pamphlets and tracts published in the United States in the 18th and early 19th centuries and collected by alumnus William B. Sprague (Class of 1819). Sprague grouped the pamphlets by subject, bound them, and gave the collection to the Seminary between 1839 and 1877.
The pamphlets and tracts served as the basis for Sprague's nine-volume publication, The Annals of the American Pulpit, an exhaustive account of American Protestantism to the middle of the 19th century.
Baptism Controversy Collection
Also known as The Samuel Agnew Baptism Collection
Samuel Agnew, for a time secretary of the Presbyterian Historical Society, was a collector of primary source material on a number of theological controversies and subjects. His collection on the controversy over the proper form of baptism, containing over 2,000 volumes and 3,000 pamphlets, was donated to the Seminary in 1881.
Puritan Collection of English and American Literature
Alexander B. Grosart (1827-1899) was an English Presbyterian minister, avid collector, editor, and reprinter. In 1885, using funds donated by friends of the Seminary, the institution purchased Grosart's 2,500 Puritan and Nonconformist works (primarily 17th century imprints). Added to regularly, this collection now contains over 5,000 volumes.
Benson Collection of Hymnals and Hymnology
Also known as The Louis F. Benson Hymnology Collection
This collection consists of more than 10,000 hymn books and secondary literature on hymnology. It is a superior resource for the study of all fields of hymnology.
Donated by alumnus Louis F. Benson (Class of 1887) in 1931 as part of his estate, a bequest also provides for continuing acquisitions.
James R. Tanis Collection
Also known as The James R. Tanis "Religion in America" Collection
This collection includes more than 250 titles of rare 18th-century imprints.
Special Collections maintains four research collections that document significant theological traditions of the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in the United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Korea. Comprising thousands of volumes, each of these collections is also supported by primary source materials housed by Special Collections. Together, these primary and secondary materials provide a rich context in which to study aspects of the American Presbyterian, Swiss Reformed, Dutch Reformed, and Korean Presbyterian traditions.
I. The Princeton Theological Seminary and the American Presbyterian Collection
The Princeton Theological Seminary and the American Presbyterian Collection brings together reference works, monographs, dissertations, selected journals, articles, and other materials that document the history of the Seminary and of American Presbyterians.
One strength of this collection is the presence of works by and about Princeton Theological Seminary and its faculty, including various editions of works by and about Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, John A. Mackay, and many others.
II. The Karl Barth Collection
The Karl Barth Collection acquires all published writings by and about Karl Barth. It also has extensive manuscript holdings, including Markus Barth's papers, and photographs on deposit from the Karl Barth Archiv in Basel, Switzerland. Digital resources, such as an online bibliography of scholarship by and about Karl Barth, supplement this collection. The collection also features a selection of videotaped interviews with preeminent Barth scholars from around the word. The Karl Barth collection contains materials primarily in German and English, but also acquires works in Dutch, French, Korean, and many other languages. For programs and activities related to this collection, see the Center for Barth Studies.
III. The Abraham Kuyper Collection of Dutch Reformed Protestantism
The Abraham Kuyper Collection is the most complete assemblage of the published writings of Abraham Kuyper in North America.
A 15,000-volume library of 19th- and 20th- century Dutch Protestantism provides the essential resources for the study of Abraham Kuyper, as well as near contemporaries such as Isaac da Costa, William Groen van Prinsterer, Herman Bavinck and Klaas Schilder. The Abraham Kuyper Collection also contains selected materials related to the Dutch tradition in South Africa and the United States.
Materials are collected primarily in Dutch, although many major works are also present in English translation. See our Digital Library of Abraham Kuyper for access to primary sources. For secondary sources about Abraham Kuyper, see our Abraham Kuyper Bibliography. For programs and activities related to this collection, see the Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology.
IV. The Moffett Korea Collection
The Moffett Korea Collection includes the papers of Samuel A. Moffett and Samuel H. and Eileen Moffett, manuscript and photographic materials related to missions in Korea, and a 1,000-volume research library of works on Korean history, culture, and religion, especially the history of Christianity in Korea.
The collection contains materials in both Korean and English.
Personal Papers and Manuscripts
Special Collections houses the papers of Princeton Theological Seminary presidents, administrators, faculty, and alumni/ae who have made important contributions to the Presbyterian Church and ecumenical Christianity as pastors, scholars, missionaries, denominational leaders, and in other capacities.
Some of the collections remain unprocessed and access may be limited. Researchers should call or write with requests for access.
Records of Organizations
Special Collections contains records of ecumenical organizations, societies, and special committees, including records from:
- The Committee of Fifteen (related to the Confession of 1967)
- The Consultation on Church Union (1962-1987)
- The Society of Christian Ethics (1953-2007)
Special Collections also holds selected records of local churches.
The Audio Collection
This collection includes recordings of lectures, sermons, addresses, worship services, and other Seminary events. The Princeton Theological Seminary Media Archive is a growing collection with in the Theological Commons.
The Art Collection
This collection includes all artwork across Princeton Theological Seminary.
The Museum Collection
This collection includes artifacts from various mission fields around the world, as well as artifacts connected with the Seminary's history.
The Photograph Collection
This collection includes images of the Seminary campus and buildings, faculty, students, and other individuals connected with Princeton Theological Seminary.