Association for Clinical Pastoral Education records, 1921-2015, undated

Emory University

Pitts Theology Library

1531 Dickey Drive, Suite 560

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
Title: Association for Clinical Pastoral Education records, 1921-2015, undated
Call Number:Record Group No. 001
Extent: 137.15 cubic feet (351 boxes)
Abstract:Contains the organizational records of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Pitts Theology Library in advance to access this collection.

Access to confidential records in Series III, Subseries 6 is restricted.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Custodial History

Records transferred to Pitts Theology Library from the Yale Divinity School Library in 1991.


[after identification of item(s)], Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Records, Archives and Manuscript Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.


Original register compiled by Kent A. Anderson, Deborah DeMeester, and Martha Lund Smalley in August 1984. Finding aid transcribed with minor editing and format changes by Joan S. Clemens, JaeYeon Chung, and Stacey Foster in April-May 1997. Processed accretions to added in May 1997. Further accretions processed and added by Aimee Morgan in 2006.

Collection Description

Historical Note

The history of clinical pastoral education in the United States is a long and complicated tale which has been ably told elsewhere. By the early 1920s, attempts of several sorts had been made to combine religion and medical care, or religion and social work. But the first formulation which focused on supervised training of seminarians or clergy in an institutional setting came in 1925 with Anton T. Boisen's program with five students at Worchester State Hospital. Boisen had himself suffered a psychotic break, and had recovered with a conviction to pursue what he regarded as the theological dimensions of such trauma. His first training program thus was designed to address theological issues through work with Aliving human documents. Boisen's program continued, and in 1930 became the Council for Clinical Training of Theological Students, Inc. Through the 1930s the CCTTS operated in only a few training centers, and both supervisors and students tended to be individuals disillusioned by traditional theological studies. Training programs were developed in general hospitals and in penal institutions as well as in mental hospitals.

Following World War II, the clinical pastoral education movement began to grow more rapidly as theological schools increasingly recognized the value of clinical training. Several organizations with different emphases and methods had emerged in the field, and by the 1950s it became clear that the movement would benefit from a more unified effort. Initial attempts to develop standards and policies for CPE were not successful, and it was only after nearly a decade of negotiations that a consolidated national organization was created.

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education was formed on November 17, 1967 by the merger of four organizations: the Association of Clinical Pastoral Educators (formerly, the Southern Baptist Association for Clinical Pastoral Education), the Council for Clinical Training, Inc., the Institute of Pastoral Care, Inc., and the Department of Institutional Chaplaincy and Clinical Pastoral Education - Lutheran Council in the U.S.A.

While the formation of the ACPE joined together four organizations, a decentralization of function which had already begun, at least within the CCT, continued following the merger. Training of students and other regular operations increasingly became the work of local centers and of the regions, while the national organization turned its attention more fully toward development of standards, accreditation of training centers, certification of training supervisors and promotion of the CPE movement.

Following a time of consolidation of the new organization, the ACPE began to work more directly with other organizations having similar interests, such as the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, the Association of Mental Health Chaplains and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education consist of over 130 cubic feet of material. The records for the period up to 1967 are primarily those of the Council for Clinical Training, Inc. (formerly known as the Council for Clinical Training of Theological Students, Inc.), one of the four antecedent bodies which merged to form the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education in 1967. Events which led toward the merger are well documented by correspondence, reports and records of meetings. Archives of the other three antecedent bodies and papers of major figures in the field of clinical pastoral education which further document the roots of ACPE are located in other repositories.

The records of the ACPE in this record group are primarily those produced or received by the Central Office. Basic documentation of regional operations is available but there is little coverage of individual supervisors, training centers, or seminaries, particularly for the post-merger years.

As the field of clinical pastoral education developed, it was characterized by evolving methodologies, changing views on the role of the pastoral clinician and increasing realization of the need for unified standards and policies. A 1958 analysis of the Council for Clinical Training described its growth to that date as “relatively spontaneous and exploratory.” Myriad letters were exchanged, committees formed and reports written in an effort to plot an appropriate course for clinical pastoral education. Representative decision making and leadership rather than strong, central executive leadership have characterized the CCT and the ACPE, a factor contributing to certain diffuseness in their archival records. The documentation of theoretical and functional exploration and change which is a focus of this record group has a counterpoint in the many folders which document the mundane month to month operations of the organization’s component parts.

Arrangement Note

Organized into 9 series: (1) Organization and Policy Records, (2) Committee, Task Force, and Network Files, (3) Records of Individual and Institutional Members, (4) Conference Records, (5) Regional Material, (6) Literature and Training Materials, (7) Financial Records, (8) Related Organizations, and (9) Audio/Visual Materials.

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