Historical Note/Scope and Content

Historical Note


The beginnings of the Religious Research Association date from 1944 with the establishment of the "Augmented Technical Staff" of the Committee for Cooperative Field Research of the Home Missions Council and the Federal Council of Churches. The motivating force behind this venture was Harlan Paul Douglass, Staff director and renowned social and religious researcher. Under Douglass, the inter-denominational Staff attracted participants from many religious institutions and a bond developed between the members which was personal as well as professional. Consequently, when the newly-formed National Council of Churches was re-organizing the Committee for Cooperative Field Research into the Central Department of Research and Survey, members of the Augmented Technical Staff decided to disconnect themselves officially from denominational participation in the National Council and instead chose to develop on an interfaith level. In 1951 the Religious Research Fellowship was formed as an autonomous group at a meeting held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A growing decline in the number of research personnel in ecclesiastical organizations and a corresponding increase in academic interest in religious research led to constitutional changes which resulted in the re-formation of the Fellowship into the Religious Research Association in 1959. The RRA publishes a quarterly journal and a monograph series. Meetings are held annually in October, in conjunction with the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.


The collection contains correspondence, minutes, publications, and other records of the Religious Research Association, concerning its annual meetings, publications, and general administration.

Gift of the Religious Research Association, 1977.

Scope and Content

Series 1, Administrative Subject Files, 1952-1999, contains material relating to the general administration of the organization, including correspondence files of past presidents, copies of constitutions and bylaws, photographs of early leaders, and information on relations with related organizations. The records are arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically thereunder.

Series 2, Executive Officer Files, 1992-2010, contains correspondence and reports, arranged alphabetically by type of document and chronologically thereunder.

Series 3, Governance Files, 1952-2009. contains minutes of meetings of the executive committee, 1952-1959, and board of directors, 1959-2009, arranged in chronological order.

Series 4, Annual Meetings Files, 1951-2010, contains programs, minutes of business meetings, and scattered papers. It is arranged in chronological order.

Series 5, Financial Records, 1955-2010. contains reports of the RRA's income and expenses, and its investment policy, arranged by type of record and chronologically thereunder.

Series 6, Editorial Files, 1961-2005, contains correspondence, minutes, and reports related to the editing of SSSR publications, arranged alphabetically by type of document and chronologically thereunder.

Series 7, Committee Records, 1958-2010, contains correspondence, minutes, and reports of RRA committees, arranged alphabetically by name of committee and chronologically thereunder.

Series 8, Publications, 1956-2011, contains issues of the organization's journals, newsletters, and membership directories, arranged in chronological order by title.

Series 9, Curated Website Captures, 2011-, provides accession to versions of the RRA's website.