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The James Iley McCord Manuscript Collection

Identifier: SCM 065

Scope and Content

This collection is comprised of materials written or collected by Dr. McCord in connection with his personal and professional life. It includes correspondence, greeting cards, notes, scrapbooks, class notes, datebooks, typewritten and handwritten manuscripts and notes, printed material, speeches, lectures, sermons, articles, photographs, minutes of meetings related to Princeton Theological Seminary, World Alliance of Reformed Churches and ecumenical activities (National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, Faith and Order, and Consultation on Church Union), study papers, gavels, certificates of recognition, and plaques.


  • 1944-1989

Language of Materials

English, German


There are no special restrictions placed on the accessibility of this collection. It is available for the use of library patrons under the normal rules and conditions of Special Collections.

Preferred Citation

The following is the acceptable citation for publication: The James Iley McCord Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.


1919 November 24
Born, Rusk, Texas.
Graduated, Bachelor of Arts, Austin College
Student, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia
Graduated, Master of Arts, University of Texas
Graduated, Bachelor of Divinity, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas
1942 April 22
Ordained, Brazos Prebytery, Texas
Student, Harvard University
Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Manchester, New Hampshire
Pastor, University Presbyterian Church, Austin
Professor, Systematic Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas
Dean, Austin Prebyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas
Doctor of Divinity, Austin Prebyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas
Student, New College, Edinburgh, Scotland
Pastor, University Presbyterian Church, Austin
Visiting Professor, Prebyterian Theological Seminary, São Paulo, Brazil
President, Princeton Theological Seminary
Chancellor, Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton, New Jersey
Awarded the Templeton Prize
1990 February 19
Died, Princeton Medical Center, Parkinson’s disease

Biographical Information

James Iley McCord was an educator, clergyman, and ecumenist. He was born in Rusk, Texas in 1919, and earned degrees from Austin College, the University of Texas, and Austin Prebyterian Theological Seminary. He also received numerous honorary degrees from a diverse range of institutions. McCord became president of Princeton Seminary in 1959 and held this position until 1983. During his tenure, the student body doubled in size and the faculty increased by nearly a third. The Seminary’s campus also expanded with the purchase of property in nearby West Windsor for student housing and the construction of buildings such as the original Erdman Hall. The Center for Theological Inquiry was also established under his administration as an independent institution of theological scholarship modeled on the Institute of Advanced Study. Upon retirement from the presidency in 1983, he became chancellor of the Center until 1989. He died of complications due to Parkinson’s disease at the Princeton Medical Center in 1990.


216.9 linear feet (179 boxes)


This collection is arranged in eight series.

Series I: Princeton Theological Seminary Correspondence, 1944-1983, contains handwritten and typewritten correspondence, greeting cards and notes in connection with Dr. James I. McCord's personal and professional life with clippings, photographs and materials sent to Dr. McCord. Correspondence before 1959 often includes that of Dr. John A. Mackay. Series I includes boxes 1 through 61.

Series II: Princeton Theological Seminary, General, 1952-1983, contains minutes and correspondence of Council of Theological Seminaries (CTS), Princeton Theological Seminary chronological letters (1982-83), class notes, proposals, daily appointment books, correspondence with Princeton faculty, staff and trustees, letters to friends of Princeton Theological Seminary, articles, speeches, addresses, lectures, sermons, letters of appreciation from University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, letters regarding Mrs. McCord's illness, letters regarding Dr. McCord's retirement, notes and articles sent to and collected by Dr. McCord, photographs, scrapbooks and correspondence and committee meetings and reports dealing with the project of editing Calvin's sermons. Correspondence before 1959 often includes that of Dr. John A. Mackay. Series II includes boxes 62 through 97.

Series III: Theological Education, 1957-1975, includes correspondence, minutes, and reports of the Institute of Theology, Council of Theological Education and The Fund for Theological Education. Correspondence before 1959 may include that of Dr. John A. Mackay. Series III includes boxes 98 through 100.

Series IV, Presbyterian Church USA, 1958-1977, includes correspondence, reports, and minutes of the General Assembly, General Assembly Mission Council, General Council of the General Assembly; correspondence, reports, minutes and materials concerning Presbyterian Life, the Presbyterian Ministers' Fund, Roman Catholic Dialogue, Gallahue Conferences, and the Commission on Ecumenical Mission. Series IV includes boxes 101-110.

Series V, Ecumenical, 1959-1987, includes a speech, minutes, reports, correspondence and study papers of the Faith and Order, National Council of Churches, Consultation on Church Union and World Council of Churches. Series V includes boxes 111-115.

Series VI, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, 1959-1983, includes correspondence, by-laws and constitution, minutes, member lists, reports, and papers from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the councils and committees which function in it, such as those dealing with the Lutheran-Reformed Dialogue, Reformed-Roman Catholic Dialogue, the Reformed-Russian Orthodox Dialogue, Calvin's Institutes, Calvin's unpublished sermons, the Heidelberg Catechism, the North American Area and North American and Caribbean Area Councils, Department of Theology, and women's work in the church. Series IV includes 116-134.

Series VII, Center of Theological Inquiry, 1983-1989, includes correspondence, opening and dedication of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Templeton Prize (articles, ceremonies, speech, audio tape), United Board executive committee minutes, Henry Luce III travel journals. Series VII includes boxes 134-135.

Series VIII, Addendum, includes material received from the Office of the President in 2002. Boxes 136-146 include Princeton Theological Seminary correspondence. Boxes 147-179 contain papers on various topics and organizations, some directly related to the Seminary and others related to the broader professional life of Dr. McCord.

Processing Information:

This collection initially consisted of 135 boxes, received by the library in July of 1991 from President McCord's career-long secretary. After Dr. McCord's death, the boxes of materials saved by his secretary were stored together in the basement of a Seminary campus building. The collection was fairly in tact when received, although the bottoms of a few boxes had deteriorated during transport and some of the folders were displaced as a result. The materials were left in original order, unless items appeared to be filed inappropriately, in which case they were reordered. Labels are as originated by Dr. McCord or his secretary unless enclosed in parentheses. The labels within parentheses were assigned by the processor. The folders are arranged alphabetically. The dates on the labels were supplied by the processor. An index to correspondence in boxes 61-135 was developed to aid researchers. A print copy of the index is available in the James Iley McCord Manuscript Collection files.

In May 2002 Special Collections received additional files of Dr. McCord from the Office of the President. To preserve original order these additional files were not integrated into the collection, but were rather added to the end of the collection as addendum. The addendum is not indexed with the original collection. This finding aid was edited by Sarah Seraphin and Daved Anthony Schmidt in February of 2009.

The James Iley McCord Manuscript Collection
Special Collections Staff
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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