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Earl A. Pope papers

Identifier: SCM 311

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of sermon manuscripts, various correspondences, various occasional reports concerned with churches and missions in Eastern Europe, and with the related topic of communism. There are also conference materials, lecture notes, and papers documenting Prof. Pope’s academic interests and career. Photocopied research materials on Washington and Lee University and a list of books donated to Princeton Theological Seminary are available.


  • 1812 - 2002

Biographical / Historical

Earl A. Pope was born in Tulca, Romania on August 18, 1920. He immigrated to the United States with his parents, Moses and Lena Pope, in 1923. He grew up in Akron, Ohio where he graduated from Garfield High School in 1939. He earned an A.B. in Religion and a M.A. in Theology from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. He then earned a M.Div. in History of Christianity from Yale University Divinity School. On September 9, 1950, he married Miriam (Mim) Nilsen whom he met while at Yale in 1948, and they had 2 daughters, Marilyn and Lauren. For the next decade, Pope was the minister of churches in Floral Park, N.Y. (1950-53), Cranston, R.I. (1954-57) and Rumford, R.I. (1957-60). While ministering at the church in Rumford, he served for two years as a teaching fellow at Brown University, where he also completed a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and American History. In 1960, Pope joined the faculty of Lafayette College, where he taught in the Department of Religion for the next 30 years during which he served as Dean of Studies (1970-1972), Head of the Religion Department (1977-1985), secretary, vice-chair, and chair of the Lafayette Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. He also did tours of duty on numerous important faculty committees, often chairing them. In 1987, he published a major book on New England Calvinism and the Disruption of the Presbyterian Church. He was named the Helen H.P. Manson Professor of Bible in 1988. His scholarly attention to religious life in Communist-dominated countries of Eastern Europe led him to be widely recognized as a ground-breaking authority on that subject, as well as a leader within national and international organizations dedicated to the culture and politics of Romania, to which he often travelled. In 1977-78 he was an International and Research Exchanges Board Award recipient and a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Scholar in Romania. Later he was awarded the Romanian Patriarchal Cross of Honor for his ecumenical contributions, and in 1980 coordinated a conference on Romanian studies at Lafayette. In 1989, Pope was elected to the executive committee of Christians Associated for Relations with Eastern Europe (CAREE), and in 1987-89 served as president of the Society of Romanian Studies. He was a consultant to the International Academy on Religious Freedom, which conducted its first conference in Romania. He also was a member of the Fulbright Selection Committee, an international observer at Romania’s 1992 presidential and parliamentary elections, and a trustee of the Albert Schweitzer Award for Humanitarians, established in 1986 by Dr. Alfred Toepfer of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to advance humanitarianism in the U.S. through recognition of extraordinary achievement. As a Senior Fulbright Professor at the University of Bucharest in 1992-94, Pope participated in numerous religious and educational organizations and events, and also organized a highly successful seminar entitled “Encounter of Religions in the Black Sea Area” at the Black Sea University, Mangalia, Romania. The seminars, which continued for years after, aimed at promoting interreligious cooperation and tolerance in a region traditionally beset by religious tensions and conflicts. The program drew participants from various Christian denominations, Jews, and Muslims, from 12 different nations. In 1997, Pope wrote a powerful five-page letter to the then-president of Romania, Dr. Emil Constantinescu, expressing his profound disappointment over a reported “sudden change in the religious policy” by the Ministry of Cults in Romania, accompanied by incidents of violent persecution against religious minorities in the country. Resulting from his humanitarian impulse, Constantinescu and the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea extended an apology for discriminatory incidents and iterated their commitment to religious freedom. Earl Pope passed away on October 18, 2011 in Fort Laurendale, Florida, at age 91.

Born, Tulca, Romania, August 18
Migrated to the United States
Graduates from Garfield High School
Marries Miriam Nilsen, September 9
Minister, Floral Park, New York
Minister, Cranson, Rhode Island
Minister, Rumford, Rhode Island
Ph.D., Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Joins Department of Religion, Lafayette College as faculty
Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Faculty Award for superior teaching
Dean of Studies, Lafayette College
Head of Department of Religion, Lafayette College
Receives International and Research Exchanges Board Award; Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Scholar in Romania
Receives Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback award for distinguished teaching and contributions to campus community; Coordinates conference on Romanian studies in Lafayette.
Publishes New England Calvinism and the Disruption of the Presbyterian Church
Serves as president of the Society of Romanian Studies
Named Helen H.P. Manson Professor of Bible
Elected to the executive committee of Christians Associated with Eastern Europe
Senior Fulbright Professor at University of Bucharest; organized ‘Encounter of Religions in the Black Sea Area’ seminar at Black Sea University, Romania
Writes to Romanian President, Dr. Emil Constantinescu to call for public apology over the violations of religious rights in Romania
Passes away on October 18, in Fort Laurendale, Florida.


5.83 Linear Feet (4 Cartons and 2 document boxes)

Language of Materials



Box 1: Personal papers, biographical info, lecture notes, sermon manuscripts; Box 2: Ecumenical work, conferences and seminar papers; Box 3: Reports, documents, correspondences, religious sects and freedom in Romania; Box 4: Reports, documents, correspondences regarding churches, missions, religious freedom and ecumenical work in Europe; Box 5: Various resources, publications, brochures; Box 6: Research materials (photocopied) on Washington and Lee University. Also includes Pope’s lecture on Lafayette College; Box 7: List of books donated to PTS and assorted articles;

Earl A. Pope papers
Melissa Li Ann Chan
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Repository Details

Part of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Library. Special Collections Repository

Princeton Theological Seminary
Wright Library
25 Library Place
Princeton NJ 08540 USA