Archives of The Biblical Seminary and Wilbert Webster White Acquired by Columbia University Libraries

(NEW YORK, December 2, 2008) A great treasure of American theological education and biblical scholarship has returned to New York, where it will be accessible to scholars locally, nationally, and internationally. The archive of The Biblical Seminary in New York, founded in 1900 and known since 1965 as New York Theological Seminary (NYTS), has been transferred from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky to the Columbia University Libraries in New York City.
Included in the materials are the papers of the Seminary’s founder and first President, Wilbert Webster White (1863-1944). The entire collection is now housed in Columbia’s Burke Library, located in Union Theological Seminary at 120th Street and Broadway in New York City.

nytslogoNYTS placed the archive with Asbury Seminary in 1983 shortly after the sale of its former properties on 49th Street. NYTS’ move to the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York in 2002 opened the way for a new working relationship with Columbia University and the return of the Biblical Seminary archive and the Wilbert Webster White papers to New York.

“The NYTS archives form a remarkable resource for research for modern American history and theological education, as well as for a specific method of Bible study linked to the Moody school,” said Ree DeDonato, Acting Director of The Burke Library. “We are honored to have these archives as part of The Burke and Columbia collections.”

Wilbert Webster White was an innovative theological educator who sought to bridge some of the most important theological divides among the Protestant churches of his era. Educated at Yale University, where he earned a Ph. D. in Old Testament in 1891, he went on to serve for a short time as the Associate Director of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He later worked among missionaries in India, teaching English Bible, before returning to the USA to found Biblical Seminary. The school he opened in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1901 and then moved to Manhattan the following year was intended from its inception to be a non-denominational institution training women as well as men for practical ministry in the city and around the world. The inductive study of the Bible was always at the center of President White’s curriculum, but he brought numerous other influences to bear upon the school, including those of John Dewey of Teacher’s College. Biblical Seminary became known not only for its “bibliocentric” curriculum, but also for what many referred to as its “progressive evangelical” identity and for its commitment to global theological education.

The Biblical Seminary archives contain institutional and administrative records of the Seminary, combined with the papers of many organizations, scholars, pastors, laypersons and others connected with the school. The Wilbert Webster White Papers include articles, books, pamphlets, charts, diaries, speeches, class notes and lecture outlines, notebooks, biographical information, news clippings, publicity materials, awards, memorabilia, maps, correspondence, periodicals, sermons, photographic materials, White’s memory method system, and correspondence and materials concerning the death of Wilbert Webster White.

“Wilbert Webster White and the history of Biblical Seminary belong to New York City,” said Dale T. Irvin, President of New York Theological Seminary. “I am particularly pleased that they are now safely inside the holdings of Columbia University Libraries. Columbia deserves a great deal of thanks and praise for this effort.”

The shipment of papers received by Columbia included 26 processed archival boxes of material on the history of Biblical Seminary from 1899 to 1973, and 39 processed boxes holding the papers of President White, dating from 1878 to 1944. These materials join the more than 150 unprocessed boxes of archival material from Biblical Seminary and NYTS that were transferred to Columbia in 2007. When organized and processed, the archives will be available for use. For more information, please contact

About The Burke Library and its Archives
The Burke Library of the Columbia University Libraries is the largest theological library in the western hemisphere. It contains rich collections for theological study and research. With holdings of over 700,000 items, the Library is recognized as one of the premier libraries in its field and includes extensive holdings of unique and special materials. Throughout its long history, the Library has maintained its commitment to the needs of both teaching and research, serving a wide spectrum of national and international scholars and researchers. The Burke Library Archives of the Columbia University Libraries consist of over 350 separate collections of personal papers and institutional records covering a broad range of themes of interest to the researcher. The Archives reflect social as well as religious issues and theological thought. Among the collections in the Archives are the Union Theological Seminary Archives, the Auburn Theological Seminary Archives, the Collections of the Missionary Research Library, the William Adams Brown Ecumenical Library Archives, and the Archives of Women in Theological Scholarship, among others. Important new collections, such as The Biblical Seminary Archives and the Wilbert Webster White Papers, continue to be added.

About Columbia University Libraries/Information Services
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.

About New York Theological Seminary
NYTS is a non-denominational center for theological education with more than 600 students, offering both graduate degrees and certificates. The Seminary works in close partnership with churches throughout the metropolitan area and around the world. Its student body is one of the most diverse in the nation today, and its programs are offered at a variety of academic levels in order to provide rich resources for ministry. NYTS prepares men and women for effective service in church and society in parish ministry and other vital ministries such as chaplaincy, social policy advocacy, community organizing, and leadership in the corporate sector. NYTS offers programs in several languages and at multiple locations throughout the New York area as well as online. For more information about NYTS, visit the Seminary’s website at


For more information, please contact:
The Rev. Dr. Paul W. Bradley
Vice President for Development and Institutional Advancement
New York Theological Seminary

Columbia University contact:
Laura Kenna
Communications Coordinator
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services

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