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Prepared by Ted J. Smith April 1991; Prepared for Web by Barbara Bass August 1996; Last Updated: May 2022
Inclusive Dates: 1884-1978
Extent: 5 cubic feet (5 record storage boxes)
Physical Location: Storage
Storage Note: This collection is housed in a climate-controlled environment off site and requires at least up to three weeks for retrieval. Please call or email the department with requests for this material prior to planning your visit.
Historical Note: Trinity Lutheran Church was organized as the English Evangelical Lutheran Church on July 22, 1877, with Reverend Nathan Paltzgroff as pastor until 1889. During the pastorate of Reverend Abraham Miller (1905-1911) the present brick church at the corner of South Water and Williams Streets was erected. Under Reverend J.H. Dobbyn (1920-1924) the name of the church was informally changed to Trinity Lutheran. Later, in 1952, while Reverend George Kunkle was pastor (1947-1953) the church was formally renamed.
Pastors between Dobbyn and Kunkle included Reverend George T. Heintz (1924-1928), Reverend Martin W. Wappner (1928-1938), and Reverend Henry Edward Hamme (1939-1943). Reverend O. Franklin Johnson became pastor in 1954 and during his term (1954-1972) two new constitutions were adopted; the 1955 constitution in accord with a model of the United Lutheran Church in America, and the 1964 constitution, amended in 1971, based on guidelines provided by The Lutheran Church in America.
In 1977, during the pastorate of Reverend Victor A. Myers (1973-1982), Trinity Lutheran Church observed its one hundredth anniversary. In commemoration, a history of the church was prepared by Leslie Stegh, a church member and also Kent State University Archivist. Box 5 of this collection contains several drafts and proofs of the centennial history which will be of invaluable assistance to the researcher as they provide context and continuity for the primary source materials that make up the bulk of the collection.
Scope and Content: The records of Trinity Lutheran Church of Kent, Ohio, were transferred to the American History Research Center on September 10 and October 26, 1976, and on July 5, 1979.
The collection has been divided into four major categories. The first and largest of these includes church originated materials, both manuscript and print. The remaining categories include printed materials originating outside Trinity Lutheran Church; materials pertaining to the 1977 centennial history; and audiovisual materials. Within these divisions the arrangement is at times topical, chronological and alphabetical.
Heading the collection, then, are early church record books, which contain a variety of data including lists of members, the 1906 constitution, council meeting minutes, and annual reports. These earliest hand written documents are especially interesting historical sources. Following the early record books, church materials are arranged topically: constitutions; church directories; church council correspondence and minutes; congregational meeting minutes; annual and miscellaneous committee reports; financial reports and records; special programs and anniversary celebrations; and Sunday school records. These materials complete the first two boxes of the collection.
In Box 3, continuing the category of church originated materials, are the records of various church groups, arranged alphabetically by name of organization. The researcher is referred to the centennial history for a thorough consideration of the history and interrelations of these groups. The first group, for example, listed in the inventory as the Brotherhood and Brotherhood Bible class, has had several titles during its various periods of activity.
Following the formal church groups are two church related groups, Cub Scout Pack 3251, and the Campus Lutherans of Kent State University. Trinity Lutheran Church concerned itself with Lutheran students on campus at several points in its history but most notably during the 1960s. A joint venture of both local Lutheran churches was organized in 1971 as Lutheran Campus Ministries. Various materials from this period have also been placed here, due to the active involvement of Trinity Lutheran Church.
Publications of Trinity Lutheran Church including the Sunday bulletins, the church newsletter "Trinity Topics" and Reverend Johnson's pastoral letters form the last group of church originated materials. The category ends with several folders of items belonging to Reverend Kunkle, and one folder of xerox copies of newspaper clippings concerning the church, dated 1889-1977.
Completing Box 4 is the second category - printed materials originating outside Trinity Lutheran Church. Most of these are items mailed to members of the congregation from various agencies of the LCA (Lutheran Church in America) and other inter-Lutheran organizations such as The National Lutheran Council. Because of the addition of church bulletins, covering the years 1977-1984 and "Trinity Topics", the church newsletter, 1977-1984, Box 4a has been introduced to hold materials that were forced out of Box 4 in order to make room for the above mentioned articles. All the folders in Box 4 from 33-59 were put in Box 4a and renumbered, starting with 1.
Box 5, as previously stated, contains drafts, proofs, and research notes for Leslie Stegh's centennial history of Trinity Lutheran Church. It also contains the church bulletins from 1983-1984 because their format changed, from letter size to legal size, in mid 1983. Audiovisual materials including maps and photographs of the church, its members and pastors, have been removed to the audiovisual file (marked av in the inventory).
The record of Trinity Lutheran Church is fairly comprehensive. It well illustrates the challenges, frustrations and the rewards faced by a self-governing group of believers, within the framework of a larger church body, over the span of a century. It will be of vital interest to church and Lutheran historians and also to local historians and genealogists.
Church bulletins for 1983 and 1984 are located in Box 5 folders 5a and 5b respectively. These bulletins are oversized reflecting a format change in 1983.
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NOTE: Box 5 also contains two boxes of note cards used in the preparation of The Centennial History of Trinity Lutheran Church. The folders of audiovisual materials marked (hf) remain in Special Collections.
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