Archives, Papers, Rare Books

Special Collections at Princeton Theological Seminary houses more than 75,000 printed works and over 4,500 linear feet of archival and manuscript material. Major collections include the Seminary archives, rare books and pamphlets, personal papers, records of organizations, special research collections, and non-textual materials related to the history of the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions and ecumenical Christianity.

The Archives of Princeton Theological Seminary

Alexander Hall ImageSpecial Collections is the repository for the historical records of the Seminary. These records document the history of the school and provide source material for researchers who seek to understand the Seminary's impact on intellectual, social, and cultural developments in the United States and abroad. The archives 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 also housed in Special Collections.

Rare Book and Pamphlet Collections

Greek lectionaryAmong 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, James R. Tanis, and Louis F. Benson.


Rare texts and Bibles

Textual materials include cuneiform tablets, Oxyrynchus papyri, Hebrew scrolls, and Syriac manuscripts. Bibles include a Byzantine Gospel lectionary, Latin Bibles printed before 1500 (1479-1497), the Complutensian Polyglot (1514-1517), Erasmus' Greek New Testament (1516), Theodore Beza's Greek New Testament (1565), the Geneva Bible (1569), the Huguenot Bible (ca. 1580), the King James Bible (1611), and the Kralitz Bible (1580).


Early imprints

The rare book collection is extremely rich in early imprints, and a few of its treasures include 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); and William Law, Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, first edition (1729). Early American printed sermons include 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

This collection includes more than 20,000 theological pamphlets and tracts published in the United States in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Collected by alumnus William B. Sprague (class of 1819), this collection served as the basis for Sprague's nine-volume publication, The Annals of the American Pulpit, which was an exhaustive account of American Protestantism to the middle of the 19th century. Sprague grouped the pamphlets by subject, bound them, and gave the collection to the Seminary between 1839 and 1877.


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. In 1881 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.


Puritan Collection of English and American Literature
Also known as The Grosart Library of Puritan and Nonconformist Theology

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.


BensonBenson 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. Donated by alumnus Louis F. Benson (class of 1887) in 1931 as part of his estate, a bequest also provides for continuing acquisitions. This collection is a superior resource for the study of all fields of hymnology.


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.


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. Consult a select list of collections or browse all finding aids.

Records of Organizations

Special Collections contains records of ecumenical organizations, societies, and special committees. These include records from the Committee of Fifteen (related to the Confession of 1967); the Consultation on Church Union (1962-1987); and the Society of Christian Ethics (1953-2007). Special Collections also holds selected records of local churches within the bounds of the former Synod of New Jersey.

Research Collections


Calvin HeartSpecial 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. These collections are The Princeton Theological Seminary and American Presbyterian Collection, The Karl Barth Collection, The Abraham Kuyper Collection of Dutch Reformed Protestantism, and The Moffett Korea Collection. Comprising thousands of volumes, each of these collections is also supported by primary source materials housed by Special Collections. Together, these materials provide a rich context in which to study aspects of the American Presbyterian, Swiss Reformed, Dutch Reformed, and Korean Presbyterian traditions.


The Princeton Theological Seminary and the American Presbyterian Collection

This 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.


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 supplements 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.


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.


The Moffett Korea Collection

This 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 Presbyterian churches. The collection contains materials in both Korean and English.

Non-Textual Materials


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, board members, and other individuals connected with the school.


The Audio Collection

This collection includes recordings of lectures, worship services, and other Seminary events.