FATHER DIVINE.
Father Divine papers, circa 1930-1996

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

rose.library@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8z92d


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Father Divine.
Title: Father Divine papers, circa 1930-1996
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 840
Extent: 8 linear feet (16 boxes), 30 oversized papers (OP), 3 extra-oversized papers (XOP), 7 oversized bound volumes (OBV), and AV Masters: .25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:Papers relating to African American evangelist Father Divine and the Peace Mission Movement including correspondence, writings, photographs, printed material, and memorabilia.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Due to preservation concerns, some of the scrapbooks (OBV1-4) are closed to researchers.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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

Separated Material

Pamphlets, monographs and periodicals included in the collection have been cataloged separately. These materials may be located in the Emory University online catalog by searching for: Father Divine.

Source

Purchase, 1997, with subsequent additions.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], Father Divine papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Processing

Processed by Susan Potts McDonald, April 2011

In 2014, Emory Libraries conservation staff cleaned, repaired, and reformatted the scrapbooks numbered OBV1 and OBV2 as part of the National Parks Service funded Save America's Treasures grant to preserve African American scrapbooks in the Rose Library's holdings. The original substrate pages of OBV2 were too fragile to bear mending, so the newspaper clippings in that scrapbook were completely removed. When the Rose Library acquired the scrapbook it was not bound and the pages were not in any discernible order, so conservators reorganized the newspaper clippings chronolgoically to enhance access. Detailed conservation reports are available from the repository upon request.


Collection Description

Biographical Note

Father Divine, formerly known as George Baker Jr., is believed to have been born around 1879 in Rockville, Maryland. While the early life of his father, George Baker Sr., is unclear, his mother, Nancy, had previously been a slave. After leaving Rockville around 1899, he noticed that African American churches were often not socially active and decided that the influence of the church could be used to enact social change. After years as an itinerate preacher, he settled in New York during World War I and eventually founded The Peace Mission Movement, which provided relief to the poor and sought to break down segregation by eliminating among followers all use of words related to race or color. He also taught his followers to reject the idea of an afterlife. Instead, Father Divine encouraged his followers to strive for eternal life on Earth by finding unity with God's internal spirit. The Peace Mission was and is a celibate community and followers strive to live pure lives in harmony with one another. He and his followers believe that he is the Messiah and Savior of humankind.

His first wife Peninniah, better known as Mother Divine, died in 1943, but Father Divine saw her as reincarnated in Edna Rose Ritchings whom he married in 1946. In 1965, Father Divine died; however, his followers believe that he "laid his body down" as a judgment on humankind for ignoring his teachings, Mother Divine and many followers believe that his spirituality is still present and that he made the supreme sacrifice for humans and will eventually resurrect himself.

Father Divine, formerly known as George Baker Jr., is believed to have been born around 1879 in Rockville, Maryland. While the early life of his father, George Baker Sr., is unclear, his mother, Nancy, had previously been a slave. After leaving Rockville around 1899, he noticed that African American churches were often not socially active and decided that the influence of the church could be used to enact social change. After years as an itinerate preacher, he settled in New York during World War I and eventually founded The Peace Mission Movement, which provided relief to the poor and sought to break down segregation by eliminating among followers all use of words related to race or color. He also taught his followers to reject the idea of an afterlife. Instead, Father Divine encouraged his followers to strive for eternal life on Earth by finding unity with God's internal spirit. The Peace Mission was and is a celibate community and followers strive to live pure lives in harmony with one another. He and his followers believe that he is the Messiah and Savior of humankind.

His first wife Peninniah, better known as Mother Divine, died in 1943, but Father Divine saw her as reincarnated in Edna Rose Ritchings whom he married in 1946. In 1965, Father Divine died; however, his followers believe that he "laid his body down" as a judgment on humankind for ignoring his teachings, Mother Divine and many followers believe that his spirituality is still present and that he made the supreme sacrifice for humans and will eventually resurrect himself.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of materials relating to Father Divine and the Peace Mission Movement from circa 1930-1996. The collection includes correspondence, printed material by and about Father Divine, photographs, ephemera, financial ledgers of the Divine Hotel Riviera (Newark, New Jersey), scrapbooks, and audiovisual materials.

The correspondence includes letters to and from Father Divine and his many followers from 1935-1971. The printed material consists of a variety of materials including brochures; postcards; International Peace Cards (which many of Father Divine's followers carried with them for protection); anniversary announcements; and programs from Peace Mission Movement events. The photographs contain images mostly of Father Divine, Mother Divine and their home, Woodmont (Gladwyne, Pennsylvania).

Ephemera includes mostly handmade objects created by Father Divine's Rosebuds including booklets and notebooks containing his teachings, buttons, banners, pennants, and some art work. The financial ledgers of the Divine Hotel Riviera located in Newark, New Jersey, contain a list of lodgers and the rates they paid; as well as expenses incurred by the hotel from 1950-1954. The scrapbooks contain clippings from The New Day (1934-1935, 1951-1955) and the New York News (1933-1935); message cards; and The New Day Reading Class of Unity Mission Church Bible Institute, Excerpt Book, September 24, 1963. The audiovisual material includes cassette recordings of the "Word of GOD Revealed" program read by Mother Divine and songs by the Rosebud Choir and a phonographic recording of "Father Divine Praise Medley" and "Excerpts from Righteous Government Meeting, November 9, 1939."

His first wife Peninniah, better known as Mother Divine, died in 1943, but Father Divine saw her as reincarnated in Edna Rose Ritchings whom he married in 1946. In 1965, Father Divine died; however, his followers believe that he "laid his body down" as a judgment on humankind for ignoring his teachings, Mother Divine and many followers believe that his spirituality is still present and that he made the supreme sacrifice for humans and will eventually resurrect himself.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by record type.


Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms

Occupation


Container List

Correspondence
Box Folder Content
1 1 Incoming, no date
1 2 Incoming, 1936-1940
1 3 Incoming, 1941-1943
1 4 Incoming, 1944-1945
1 5 Incoming, 1946 January-June
1 6 Incoming, 1946 July-December
1 7 Incoming, 1947
1 8 Incoming, 1948 January-April
OP29 - Incoming, 1948 March
1 9 Incoming, 1948 May-December
1 10 Incoming, 1952-1963
2 1 Outgoing, no date
2 2 Outgoing, 1935-1937
2 3 Outgoing, 1938
2 4 Outgoing, 1940-1943
2 5 Outgoing, 1944-1945
2 6 Outgoing, 1946 January-May
2 7 Outgoing, 1946 June-December
2 8 Outgoing, 1947-1948 April
2 9 Outgoing, 1948 May-December
2 10 Outgoing, 1950-1958
2 11 Outgoing, 1966, 1971
Printed material by and about Father Divine
3 1 Article, Divine, M.J., "Blessed are the Pure of Heart," Metaphysical News, February 1, 1933
3 2 Article, "Father Divine in Los Angeles, Southern California Parade, April 21, 1936
3 3 Article, "Father Divine Newspapers Refuses to Print the Truth," The Iconoclast, June 1, 1937
3 4 Article, Lanyon, Walker, "Father Divine," The Rally, June 1934
3 5 Bill of Rights, no date
3 6 Booklet, includes "The Rosebud's Creed," the "Lily-Bud's Creed," and the "Crusaders' Self-Discipline," no date
3 7 Booklet, includes "A Rosebud's Prayer" and other verses
3 8 Broadside, Patriotic Outing, Demonstration and Mass Meeting, Divine Greenkill Park (Kingston, New York), October 12, 1941
3 9 Brochures, Father Divine
3 10 Brochures, Father Divine's Science Class, circa 1974 and 1975
3 11 Brochure, Unity Mission Church Home and Training School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 100th Anniversary, 1893-1993
3 12 Brochures, Woodmont
3 13 Business card, Reverend M.J. Divine
3 14 Business card, Peace Movement Mission followers
3 15 By-Laws, United Peace Mission Nurses, no date
3 16 Calendar, 1948
3 17 Calendar (date book), 1975
3 18 Calendar, 1978
3 19 Calendar, Divine Lorraine Hotel (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 1962
3 20 Certificate, [Angelo] Herndon Honor Certificate, Father Divine Peace Mission, no date
3 21 Certificate, Completing the Reading of the Old Testament, Sister's Bible Class, January 24, 1959
3 22 Certificate, United States Treasury Department, War Finance Program, 1945
3 23 Christmas cards, Divine Fairmont Hotel (Jersey City, New Jersey), no dates
3 24 Christmas and New Year cards, Father and Mother Divine
3 25 Constitution and By-Laws, Circle Mission, Church Discipline, no date
3 26 Constitution and By-Laws, Peace Center, Church Discipline, no date
3 27 Feathers of Woodmont (2)
3 28 First day covers addressed to Mother Divine, 1969-1972
4 1 Flowers of Woodmont (6)
4 2 Flyer, "Mottoes Given in Sayville," no date
4 3 Flyer, "Short Talk by Rev. M. H. Divine," no date
4 4 Graduation card, no date
4 5 International peace cards, no date
4 6 Invitation, Independence Day Luncheon, Woodmont, July 4, 1976
4 7 Invitations, Wedding anniversary, 1950-1996
4 8 Invitations, Woodmont Celebration, September 10-13, 1970 [includes a map of Peace Mission properties around Philadelphia]
4 9 Letter, Facsimile of President Lyndon Johnson's letter to Father Divine regarding the Voting Rights Address, March 26, 1965
4 10 Letterhead, includes Father Divine (2), Circle Mission Church of Philadelphia and Training School, Divine Tracy Hotel (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), and Unity Mission Church, Home and Training School, Inc. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
4 11 Menu, Circle Mission Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 27th Anniversary Banquet, April 28, 1974
4 12 Menu, International Peach Banquet, 1953
4 13 Menu, International Peach Banquet, 1954
4 14 Menu, United Mission Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 28th Anniversary Banquet, April 29, 1974
4 15 Menu, United Mission Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 31st Anniversary Banquet, April 29, 1977
4 16 Menu, United Mission Church Home and Training School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Review Celebration of the Anniversary of Father and Mother Divine, April 30, 1970
4 17 Message cards, no date
4 18 Message cards, 1933
4 19 Message cards, 1936
4 20 Message cards, 1941
4 21 Message cards, 1946
4 22 Message cards, 1947
4 23 Message cards, 1948
4 24 Message cards, 1949
4 25 Message cards, 1950
5 1 Message cards, 1951
5 2 Message cards, 1952
5 3 Message cards, 1953
5 4 Message cards, 1954
5 5 Message cards, 1956
5 6 Message cards, 1957
5 7 Message cards, 1960
5 8 Message cards, 1961
5 9 Message cards, 1964
5 10 Message cards, 1966
5 11 Message cards, 1967
5 12 Message cards, 1968
5 13 Message cards, 1969
5 14 Message cards, 1971
5 15 Message cards, 1977
5 16 The New Day, Vol. II, 1938 (covers only)
5 17 The New Day, Vol. III, 1939 (covers only)
5 18 The New Day, Vol. IV, 1940 (covers only)
5 19 The New Day, Vol. V, 1941 (covers only)
5 20 The New Day, Vol. VI, 1942 (covers only)
5 21 The New Day, Vol. VII, 1943 (covers only)
5 22 The New Day, no date (back covers only)
5 23 Newspaper clippings, 1935-1952
6 1 Placards, no date [1]
OP30 - Placards, no date [2]
6 2 Poem, "The New Creation"
6 3 Postcards, Divine Tracy Hotel (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
6 4 Postcards, Divine International House of Palace Mission (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
6 5 Postcards, Father and Mother Divine
6 6 Postcards, Woodmont
6 7 Proclamations, International Universal Interracial Holiday, April 29, 1948
6 8 Program, Father Divine's International Peace Mission Schools, 1961-1978
6 9 Program, Father Divine's Nazareth Mission Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), September 27, 1952
6 10 Program, International Youth Day, August 20, 1950
6 11 Program, Righteous Government Convention (New York, New York), January 10-12, 1936
6 12 Program, Unity Mission Church, Home and Training School, Bible Institute, February 15, 1947
6 13 Receipts, United States Savings Bonds [Father Divine follower Love of Matthew], 1934, 1943
6 14 Report card, The Peace Center and Nazareth Mission Training School, circa 1944-1947 [Miss Rebecca Love]
6 15 Resolution, Circle Mission Church congratulates Eisenhower upon his election as President, January21, 1953
6 16 Resolution, Peace Mission Movement, Council of the City of Philadelphia, February 4, 1982
6 17 Signs
6 18 Song, "Father Divine's Greetings to the Universe," no date
6 19 Song, "Now We Have a Righteous Government, 1936
6 20 Song, "Songs Celebrating the Holy Marriage of Father Divine to His Spotless Virgin Bride, April 29, 1946"
6 21 Stamps, Peace Mission Movement
OP1 Stamps, Peace Mission Movement
6 22 Ticket, Father Divine Special, The Philadelphia Railroad Company, September 5, 1939
Photographs
7 1 Father Divine, no date
7 2 Father Divine, 1930s-1940s
7 3 Father Divine, 1950s-1970 (8 x 10)
7 4 Father Divine, 1950s-1970s (small)
OP2 Father Divine, oversized
OP6 Father Divine, oversized
7 5 Mother Divine (Peninniah), no date
7 6 Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), no date
7 7 Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1950s
7 8 Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1960s
7 9 Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1970s
7 10 Father and Mother Divine (Peninniah), 1930s
OP3 Father and Mother Divine (Peninniah), oversized
7 11 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), no date (1 of 2)
7 12 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), no date (2 of 2)
8 1 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1940s
8 2 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1950s-1960s (8 x 10)
8 3 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1960-1962
8 4 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1963-1966
8 5 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), 1971-1974
OP4 Father and Mother Divine (Edna Rose Ritchings), oversized
14 3 People, Followers of Father Divine protesting ruling of New York County Judge Benedict D. Dineen, 1940
8 6 People, International
8 7 People, Others
8 8 People, Rosebuds
8 9 Places, Circle Mission Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
8 10 Places, Circle Mission Church Home and Training School of California (Los Angeles, California)
8 11 Places, Divine Lorraine Hotel (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
8 OP5 Places, Divine Peace Mission Hotel (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
8 12 Places, Father Divine's Peace Mission (New York, New York)
8 13 Places, Holy Communion Table, various locations
8 14 Places, New York County Courthouse, 1935
8 15 Places, New York County Courthouse, 1937
8 16 Places, New York County Courthouse, Divine followers protesting ruling of Judge Benedict D. Dineen, March 1940
8 17 Places, Peace Mission Garages (New York, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
8 18 Places, Sayville, New York
8 19 Places, Sayville, New York residence, 76 Macon Street
8 20 Places, Sorority Peace Mission Democratic Evangelical Home (Newark, New Jersey)
8 21 Places, Ulster County (New York), 1929
8 22 Places, Woodmont (Gladwyne, Pennsylvania), exterior
8 23 Places, Woodmont (Gladwyne, Pennsylvania), interior
8 24 Places, Woodmont - Shrine to Life (Gladwyne, Pennsylvania)
8 25 Places, Unknown
8 26 Photograph album: Charles O'Reggio, Buffalo, New York, 1935
16 1 Printing plates, undated
Ephemera
OP7 Banner, "Peace, Virtue, Remember Thy Creator, Father Divine, in the Days of Thy Youth, Rosebuds"
9 1 Booklets, etc. (made by Rosebuds) [1 of 3]
9 2 Booklets, etc. (made by Rosebuds) [2 of 3]
9 3 Booklets, etc. (made by Rosebuds) [3 of 3]
9 4 Buttons: (1) Project Positive and (2) Father and Mother Divine
9 5 Buttons: Woodmont Centennial, 1892-1992
9 6 Collages of Father Divine
9 7 Notebook 1, "Father Divine's Cabinet Post Graduate Bible Class
10 1 Notebook 2, "Father Divine's Crusaders
10 2 Notebook 3, "Index to the Sermon on the Mount, Rosebud Creeds, Lilly-Buds Creeds, and Crusaders' Self-Discipline, 1969-1974"
10 3 Notebook 4, Notes on various religions including the Peace Mission Movement
10 4 Notebook 5, Father Divine messages
10 5 Notebook 6, Father Divine messages, March 10-May 12, 1934
10 6 Notebook 7, Unattributed quotes and religious quotes
10 7 Ornaments
OP8 Pennant, 12th Anniversary, Peace, It's Wonderful
OP9 Pennants (11)
OP10 Poster of Father Divine
OP11 Poster: "American Youth," no date
OP12 Poster: "Chester R. Thomas for Councilman," no date
XOP1 Poster: "Crusaders for righteousness," no date
OP13 Poster: "Divine Lorraine hotel delegates," no date
OP14 Poster: "Divine miracle proves the greatest virtue," no date
OP15 Poster: "Elevate your mind, escalate Divine," no date
OP16 Poster: "Father Divine is He who was to come," no date
OP17 Poster: "Father Divine's Crusaders," no date
OP18 Poster: "Father is marching on!" no date
OP19 Poster: "Father is Reigning Now!" no date
OP20 Poster: "For all who have sinned," no date
OP21 Poster: "God is Science and Science is God!" no date
OP22 Poster: "God," no date
OP23 Poster: "I will unify the world of science," no date
OP24 Poster: "Prejudicial decision against Father Divine," no date
OP25 Poster: "The Staple Singers" no date
OP26 Poster: "The State of International Peace," no date
OP27 Poster: "Three cheers for MJD saving democracy," no date
OP28 Poster: "Truth. Justice." no date
XOP2 Poster: "We are proud to bear Father's name!" no date
XOP3 Poster: "Young America, Father Divine solves your problems positively," no date
Financial ledgers: Divine Hotel Riviera (Newark, New Jersey)
11 1 August 14, 1950-March 3, 1951
11 2 September 23-December 18, 1951
11 3 December 19, 1951-March 16, 1952
11 4 March 18, 1952-June 12, 1952
11 5 June 13, 1952-September 3, 1952
11 6 September 5, 1952-November 27, 1952
11 7 October 23, 1953-October 26, 1954
Scrapbooks
12 Scrapbook 1, The New Day clippings, 1934-1935
13 Scrapbook 2, The New Day clippings, 1934-1935
OBV1 Scrapbook 3: The New Day clippings, 1951-1955 [RESTRICTED]
OBV2 Scrapbook 4: The New Day clippings, 1951-1953 [RESTRICTED]
OBV3 Scrapbook 5: New York News (New York, New York), clippings, May 1933-June 1934 [RESTRICTED]
OBV4 Scrapbook 6: New York News (New York, New York), clippings, June 1934-August 1935 [RESTRICTED]
14 1 Scrapbook 7: Message cards and brochures, no date
14 2 Scrapbook 8: The New Day Reading Class of Unity Mission Church Bible Institute, Excerpt Book, September 24, 1963
The New Day particular series of articles (bound)
15 1 Messages of Father Divine, January-April 1939
15 2 Messages of Father Divine, January 2-March 20, 1941
15 3 Messages of Father Divine, June 11-August 20, 1942
OBV5 "The Miracle of Good Health," September 9, 1972-August 6, 1977
OBV6 "The Portal of Life Eternal," July 31-November 27, 1971
15 4 "Righteousness Marches on," August 4, 1939-February 20, 1941
15 5 "Righteousness Marches on," August 1, 1940-July 3, 1941 (reverse order) [also include June 20, 1936 issue of The Spoken Word]
OBV7 "The Word of God Revealed," June 15, 1974-November 22, 1975
Audiovisual
AV1 - Rosebud Choir, April 5, 1934 (C-1) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Rosebud Choir, Inspirational Christmas Songs (CS-26) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Sacred Praises, Woodmont (CS36-1) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - "This Grace Wherein I Stand" (CW8) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW2) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW6) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW8) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW12) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW18) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW19) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW23) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW26) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW30) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW31) [original: audio cassette]
AV1- - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW32) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW34) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW35) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW41) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Word of GOD Revealed, Program (CW50) [original: audio cassette]
AV1 - Father Divine Praise Medley (side 1) and Excerpts from Righteous Government Meeting, November 9, 1939 [original: 78 RPM]
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