WSCF archives

This page describes the two major collections of WSCF archives which contain records from 1895 up to the present day.

The WSCF archives are held in two major collections. The first set of archives is held by the Yale Divinity School Library and includes records from the period 1895 to 1925. This corresponds to the period when the Federation's first General Secretary John R. Mott was based in New York.
The second set of archives is held by the World Council of Churches Library at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva and contains records from 1895 up till the present day.

WSCF Honorary Archivist
WSCF Senior friend the Rev'd Dr. Thomas Wieser currently serves as the WSCF Honorary Archivist in Geneva.
To contact Dr Wieser regarding WSCF archives please email him at

Yale Divinity School Library WSCF archives: 1895 -1925

The official archives of the World Student Christian Federation from 1895 to 1925 are held at the Yale Divinity School Library. These records were donated by John R. Mott, who served as General Secretary and Chairman of the WSCF for many years.

The WSCF collection at Yale contains materials dating up through the 1940s, as it continued to receive important Federation documents and serial publications following the organisation's change of headquarters in 1925.

Yale's WSCF collection also encompasses the books and periodicals that constituted the Library of the WSCF. In 1919, the Library of the WSCF (also called the John R. Mott Library) included some five thousand volumes, with documents in more than twenty languages.

The WSCF archives at Yale are arranged geographically, with the general records in the "A" section being followed by records related to B: North America; C: South America; D: Europe; E: Great Britain and Ireland; F: Oriental Countries; and G-M: other countries.

Within each of these sections, materials are grouped according to a unique classification system modelled after the Dewey Decimal System, which was developed specifically for the archives and library of the WSCF in the early part of the 20th century by Mrs. Grace J. Livingston. This classification system was updated and expanded by Miss Ruth Rouse in the 1940s.

Among the classification sections are the "300" section, which contains the materials concerning the organisation and incorporation of the WSCF, the "800" section, which contains the correspondence of John Mott, Ruth Rouse, Karl Fries and other correspondents such as P.A. Conrad, Emmanuel Galland, Francis P. Miller, Eberhard Phildius, Margery W. Smith and W.A. Visser 't Hooft, and the "900" section, which contains materials relating to the history of the WSCF, including reports, minutes of meetings, year books, various serials, information on conventions, conferences and various committees.

To access the online finding aid for the WSCF collection at Yale go to Guide to the Archives of the World Student Christian Federation

The Yale collection is open to qualified researchers. Portions of the archives have been microfilmed and are available via interlibrary loan. To view policies on rights and reproductions for archival collections at the Yale Divinity School Library go to Rights and reproductions in the special collections section of the Yale Divinity School Library website.

To contact the Yale Divinity School Library directly, please contact:

Ms Martha Smalley
Yale Divinity School Library Archivist
Yale University,
409 Prospect Street,
New Haven,
Connecticut 06510

WSCF Archives: 1895 -
World Council of Churches Library

The World Council of Churches Library houses global archives of the WSCF at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

In the 1970s it was decided to transfer the WSCF archives to the WCC archives for storage, description and microfilming, since then there have been several additional transfers.

The WCC archives describe WSCF's importance in the ecumenical library as follows:
"The structure and activities of the WSCF provide a unique opportunity for focused study of student religious life throughout the world. Throughout it's rich and active history, the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) played a fundamental role in both the modern missionary and ecumenical movements. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, WSCF encouraged students to engage actively in the work of spreading the gospel, emphasising the importance of mutual communication, co-operation, and challenge with the mainline institutional churches. The Federation has and continues to work for unity in the church and in the world."

The reports and letters included in the WSCF collection provide insight into the contexts and issues that informed the development of the Church in North and South America, continental Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, Asia, Australasia, South Africa, and other areas.

The archival materials include reports and correspondence of committees, conferences, national student movements, secretaries and officers of the WSCF. These archives are organised by chronological periods and then by categories such as "Countries", "Secretaries", "Conferences", "Correspondence" etc. using the following series and subseries:
:: Minutes of General Committee/General Assembly
:: Minutes of Executive Committee meetings
:: Minutes of Staff & Officers' meetings
:: Annual reports and conference reports
:: WSCF Directories
:: Meetings, reports and conferences categorised in time periods as follows: before 1919; 1919-22; 1922-24; 1924-26; 1926-28; 1928-29; 1930-31; 1932-40; 1940-45
Records from 1945 to 2004 continue in the system of sorting by date and format, the later categories include all the categories listed above, plus:
:: World Student Relief & International Student Service
:: Commissions (Political, Study, Youth, Ecumenical, University)
:: Ecumenical Assistance Programme
:: Schools work
In addition to the official minutes, conference reports and programme documents are materials from the following categories:
:: Promotional materials
:: WSCF publications
:: Worship and Bible Studies
:: Biographical material
:: Prayer books
:: Cantate Domino
:: Writings and sermons

To view a full list of the archive contents (112 pages long) in Adobe Acrobat pdf go to the WCC Library website and view the WSCF archive inventory.

Access to the archives at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva is free and available to the public by prior request. The rules for access and an application form for use of the archives are available on the WCC Library website under the section Conditions of use.

The WCC Library's archives staff are able to help users with copies and small searches. For extensive research they recommend that researchers visit the archives in Geneva.

To contact the WCC Library directly:

Library & Archives team
World Council of Churches
P.O. Box 2100
CH-1211 Geneva 2
Phone : +41 22 791 6279
Fax: +41 22 791 2022
E-mail :
Website :