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Gardner C. Taylor collection

 Collection — Box: 1-47
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0088

Scope and contents

In 2008 Reverend Gardner Taylor donated his collection of writings to the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center. Rev. Taylor made this gift in honor of his late wife Laura Taylor, (b.1916, d.1995) who initially collected and compiled his writings into notebooks. The Woodruff Library is working in partnership with The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) to preserve the legacy of Rev. Taylor and make his historical papers available for research and study.

In 2007, ITC opened the Gardner C. Taylor Archives and Preaching Laboratory. This multi-media lab includes technology for listening and viewing of audio and video media; videoconferencing, and other teaching and learning technology. There is also a small exhibit highlighting some of Rev. Taylor’s achievements. The Gardner Taylor collection of sermons at ITC is comprised of 156 audio tapes and 1 video recording. A list of these sermons is included in this finding aid. [For more details about Gardner C. Taylor Archives and Preaching Laboratory see]

The Gardner C. Taylor Collection at Woodruff Library is comprised of 1,148 manuscript titles. The collection is primarily sermons, and also includes speeches at events, a few prayers, eulogies, and lectures. The writings are handwritten and typed and cover the period 1947-2001 with the majority of the materials dating 1950-70s. The collection also includes a few partial writings of notes, outlines, and texts with missing pages. Additionally, there are a few typescripts of writings by others such as Rev. Sidney H. Price from Grimsby, England, and author and social justice activist, Lillian Smith.

Acknowledgements: This collection was processed by the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center with generous funding from The Interdenominational Theological Center. The arrangement and description was prepared under the direction of Karen L. Jefferson, RWWL Records Manager. The RWWL processing team included Grace Dubinson, Joi Jenkins Frazier, Marcus Halley, William Spencer, and Neely Terrell, Ms. Loretta Parham, RWWL CEO/Library Director, and Dr. Michael Battle, President of the Interdenominational Theological Center.


  • 1947-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1970


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


Conditions Governing Use

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright or 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 timeline and note


1918 June 18
Born in Baton Rouge, LA; the only child of Reverend Washington Monroe Taylor, a Baptist minister, and Selina Gesell Taylor, a homemaker and teacherReceived early education in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 1st grade - Baton Rouge College (Baptist Normal School); 2nd – 3rd grades - Reddy Street; 4th -7th grades - Perkins Street Elementary School; and 8th-12th grades McKinley High School
Received AB degree from Leland College, Baker, LA
Served as a pastor at Bethany Baptist Church, Elyria, OH
Received Bachelor of Divinity from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology
1940 August 20
Married Laura Bell Scott (b.1916, d. 1995); there is one child, Martha Taylor LaCroix
Served as Pastor at Beulah Baptist Church,New Orleans, LA
Served as Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, LA
Served as Pastor of Concord Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY
Elected to the Board of Education of New York City
One of the founding members of the Progressive National Baptist Convention
Served as the second President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention
Awarded Knight Commander, Order of African Redemption, conferred by Liberian President William V.S. Tubman
Awarded the Order of Africa, conferred by President William R. Tolbert Jr., Republic of Liberia
Duke University Divinity School establishes the annual Gardner C. Taylor Lecture Series
1979 December 31
Named as one of the top seven preachers in the US. by Time Magazine and dubbed the “Dean of the nation’s black preachers”
1993 January
Delivered the sermon at the Inaugural Prayer Service for President William Jefferson Clinton
1993 November
Named by Ebony Magazine as one of “The 15 Greatest Black Preachers”
1995 January
Dubbed as “The Poet Laureate of the Pulpit” by The Christian Century
Listed as one of the “12 Most Effective Preachers in the English Speaking World in a Baylor University Survey published in Newsweek Magazine
1996 July 30
Married Phillis Strong
1997 January
Offered the benediction at President Bill Clinton’s second Inauguration
2000 August 9
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’shighest civilian honor, conferred by President Bill Clinton
Moved to Raleigh, NC
2007 October 15
Opening of the Gardner C. Taylor Archives and Preaching Laboratory at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA
2015 April 5
Died in Durham, NC

Reverend Gardner C. Taylor is a widely acclaimed Baptist minister, recognized as a gifted orator, extraordinary religious leader, inspirational educator, and staunch civil rights activist. In 1979 Time Magazine named him one of the top seven preachers in the U.S. and proclaimed him the “Dean of the nation’s black preachers.” In 1993 Ebony Magazine named Rev. Taylor as one of the “15 Greatest Black Preachers.” He was cited in a 1996 Newsweek Magazine as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English speaking world. His passion and eloquent phrasing when preaching earned him the title “poet laureate of American Protestantism.” He has given sermons and speeches throughout the United States and across the world including Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Japan, Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia. He is the recipient of over 100 honorary degrees and has lectured and taught at numerous seminaries and divinity schools including Boston, Colgate-Rochester, Duke, Harvard, Howard, Princeton, Shaw, and Yale Universities, Union Theological Seminary and The Interdenominational Theological Center. In January 1993, Rev. Taylor delivered the inaugural sermon at the Prayer Service for President William Jefferson Clinton; and in January 1997 Taylor offered the benediction at President Clinton’s second inauguration. August 9, 2000, Rev. Taylor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Rev. Taylor served as pastor of the Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York for 42 years until his retirement in 1990. Under his leadership the church membership grew from 5,000 to over 14,000; a new church was constructed at a cost of $1,700,000; an elementary school was erected and received full accreditation; a nursing home and a senior residence were built; and a Federal Credit Union and community endowment fund were established.

As a religious leader in the civil rights movement Rev. Taylor helped organize and led numerous actions including protests to end housing discrimination in New York City. He was arrested in protests to support minority building trade workers. He was a close friend to, and marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; and he led fundraising efforts in the North to support the civil rights actions in the South that King spearheaded. Issues on church involvement in civil rights actions led to a split within the National Baptist Convention and the formation of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC). King and Taylor were among the founding members of the PNBC, for which Taylor would later serve as the second president.

Rev. Taylor gave his leadership skills and service to other organizations as well. He served on the New York City Council of Churches, where he was the first African American and first Baptist minister to become President of the Council. He was Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Urban League of the City of New York; a member of the New York City Board of Education; and a leader of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn.

Gardner Taylor has been interviewed countless times for print media, radio, television, film, and church and educational programs. He is the author of numerous articles and several books including How Shall They Preach (1977), The Scarlet Thread (1981), Chariots Aflame (1988), We Have This Ministry (co-author Samuel D. Proctor, 1996), The Words of Gardner Taylor (6 volumes 1999-2002), and Perfecting the Pastor’s Art, Wisdom from Avery Lee and Gardner Taylor (2005).

Gardner Taylor died April 5, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina at the age of 96.


23.25 Linear feet

Language of Materials



The Collection is arranged into four series: 1. Writings by Gardner Taylor; 2. Partial Writings; 3. Writings by Others; 4. Inventory of Sermons in the ITC Gardner C. Taylor.

Gardner C. Taylor collection, 1947-2001
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

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


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