Virtual Visit: The Presbyterian Historical Society

How well do you know your Presbyterian heritage?  Many of us grew up in the Presbyterian church, some are brand new, but all of us could learn something new about our history from visiting the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. 

“Organized in 1852, the Presbyterian Historical Society is the oldest denominational archives in the United States and serves as the national archives for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations. PHS exists to collect, preserve, and share the story of the American Presbyterian and Reformed experience with Presbyterians, the scholarly community, and the general public.”

The Presbyterian Historical Society


PHS provides many services to assist congregations and individuals including:

  • Reference inquiries
  • Genealogy and family history research
  • Minister/missionary biographical research services
  • Attestations of baptism, marriage, and membership

In addition, congregations, presbyteries, and GA agencies are able to deposit their records at no charge in their climate-controlled archives.  Read more about their services, including digitization, here.


The on-site collections contain over 250,000 titles and more than 30,000 cubic feet of official records and personal documents (including photographs, diaries, and correspondence), as well as holding the archives of many ecumenical organizations.

You can search the collections online utilizing two online catalogs: Calvin and Sheppard. There are also many other research tools available, including subject guides and church surveys. Please note that in-person research is available by appointment only, so plan accordingly.

Online Exhibits

If you aren’t able to travel to Philadelphia, don’t worry.  The Presbyterian Historical Society offers online and print-on-demand exhibits that you can view from the comfort of your own home or display in your Sunday School classroom.  There are even online histories and publications that you can use to learn more about our denomination in America and the world. Learn more.

A few of the online exhibits:

A few of the print-on-demand exhibits:

  • Presbyterian Women Through Time
  • Make Known the Gospel to All the World
  • Presbyterians and the Civil Rights Movement

Visit Their Website

Check out the Presbyterian Historical Society’s website today to learn more about what they do, how they can assist your congregation, and what part Presbyterians have played throughout history.

Published by shenangopresby

The Presbytery of Shenango serves 49 churches in Mercer and Lawrence Counties of western Pennsylvania.

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