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Harry V. Richardson collection

Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0052

Scope and contents

The Harry V. Richardson papers spans the years between 1902 and 1999. The bulk of the collection dates 1940-1978. The collection gives some insight into Dr. Richardson’s tenure as President of Gammon Theological Seminary and the founder and first president of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). These papers include board of trustee’s records, administrative files, historical documents, many founding documents related to ITC, and Dr. Richardson’s course materials. There are administrative files relating to Dr. Richardson's tenure at Tuskegee Institute, Gammon Theological Seminary, and the United Negro College Fund. Also found within this collection are Dr. Richardson’s writings which consists of speeches, sermons, prayers and funeral addresses, which provide rich resources in the study of African American religion in the South. Richardson’s galley proofs and drafts are also included from his three published books, Dark Glory, Dark Salvation and Walk Together Children: The Story of the Birth of the Interdenominational Theological Center. In addition, there are correspondence, photographs, memorabilia and organizational materials. A small amount of information can also be found about Dr. Richardson’s wife, Selma Richardson and his time as Chaplain at Tuskegee Institute.


  • 1842-1994
  • Majority of material found within 1901 - 1990

Rights Statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact

Biographical note

Dr. Harry Van Buren Richardson was a distinguished preacher, teacher and leader. He began his college training from Western Reserve University where he received and A.B., and later matriculated to Harvard University where he received a S.T.B. from the Divinity School. While at Harvard, he was awarded the university’s two highest honors. In 1945, Dr. Richardson received his Ph.D. from Drew University in rural sociology and religion.

A practitioner of the gospel, Dr. Richardson became chaplain at Tuskegee Institute in 1933. Under his intellectual and homiletic mastery, the Tuskegee Chapel became one of the leading pulpits in the South. In his work with Tuskegee students, he was nationally recognized as a highly effective counselor and spiritual mentor. While in Alabama, he also created a statewide interracial alliance of ministers as a way to better race relations in the state.

While working at Tuskegee, Dr. Richardson was noted for his work to improve the standard of living for the poor in the rural South. Chaplain Richardson developed a religious extension program, which at its height, employed eighteen fulltime employees in nine Southern states and served over two thousand.

For twelve years, he served as a national representative for the university and National Christian Missions conducted by the Federal and National Councils of Churches. He was later appointed twice as delegate to the World Council of Churches from the Methodist Church. In 1955, Dr. Richardson was elected president of the Association of Methodist Theological Schools, and in 1962, he served as a member of a seminar on theology at Oxford University.

In 1948, Dr. Richardson became President of Gammon Theological Seminary at a time of transition for the school. Recognizing the opportunity to build a strong and diverse ecumenical theological center, Dr. Richardson took the lead in 1955 in developing The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), which was charted in 1958. ITC is a Christian, ecumenical, coeducational, graduate professional school of theology comprised from a federation of six historic African-American seminaries. Dr. Richardson served as the first President of ITC until 1968.

Dr. Richardson served on many boards and community organizations. In 1969-1970, he served as the interim Executive Director of the United Negro College Fund. He received the President’s Award of the Association of Private Colleges and Universities in Georgia in 1976, and the Katzenstein Award from the Harvard Divinity School in 1979.

Dr. Richardson authored three books: Dark Glory (Friendship Press, 1947), Dark Salvation (Doubleday, 1976), and Walk Together Children (ITC Press, 1981). Dr. Richardson’s writings and addresses chronicle the nation’s ecumenical theological education and built bridges of cooperation and community among unlikely partners. Because of his gentile yet courageous spirit, he was often described as the “quiet crusader.”

“My concern in race relations has been not only to break down barriers but also to build good will and understanding so that when the barriers fail, there will be a foundation to start from.” – Harry V. Richardson, 1979


93 Linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection is aggranged into ten series: 1. Personal Papers, 2. Correspondence, 3. Writings by Harry V. Richardson, 4. Writings by Others, 5. Tuskegee Institute, 6. Gammon Theological Seminary, 7. Interdemoninational Theological Center, 8.Organizations, 9. Printed and Published, and 10. Audio/Visual Materials.

Harry V. Richardson collection, 1842-1994
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Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


404-978-2109 (Fax)