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Religion Department records

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RG0079

Collection Scope and Content

This collection contains brochures, flyers, posters, speeches, programs, bibliography, reports, and handbooks. They range in date from 1951 to 1985. They concern courses; a luncheon RSVP; Judaic Studies; Israel; Islam; religion and medical care; and student handbooks. Please note that former Acc#679 convocations and commencement material associated with the Religion Department is now part of the University Marshall collection as series 4 of RG0043.

Formerly RG9.25


  • Creation: 1951-1987


Restrictions on Access

Some records may be restricted.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Historical or Biographical Note

The Religion Department at The George Washington University was founded in 1947. President Marvin, when announcing its creation, explained that the department would not seek to prepare students for sectarian religious service but would try to “help students gain a wholesome view of religion and to combine scholarly and religious ideals so as to produce an atmosphere conducive to intelligent faith.” He also said that an understanding of religion was necessary in any program of character education, and thus should be given it place in the curriculum.

The presence of a Religion Department among the humanistic disciplines of a university reflects an awareness that religious traditions have had a major role in shaping the history of civilizations. Religious phenomena may be analyzed and synthesized in such a way as to contribute to the understanding of human culture. The study of religion in a university environment promotes analysis rather than advocacy of religion, or a particular tradition.

The Religion Department at GW offers a great deal of attention to the individual interests of its students. Many students that are not preparing for careers that specifically involve religion still gain the strong liberal arts foundation they need to pursue careers in such fields as law, business, and medicine.

The curriculum is intended to lead the student to knowledge of the world's religions, their history, literature, and community structure. Areas of study include Biblical literature, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, ethics, sociology of religion, contemporary movements in theology, and religion in American culture.

Rev. Dr. Joseph Sizoo was the chairman of the religion department and director of the University Chapel from 1952-66. He was selected as one of the country's twelve best clergymen by Life magazine in 1953. From 1924-36 he was pastor of the New York Presbyterian Church in Washington, and delivered the funeral sermon for William Jennings Bryan in 1925. He was also a close friend of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln. From 1952 until his death he was Milbank Professor of Religion (and director of the chapel, 1956-66).

N.B. This history note was written in 2005


0.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Materials in this collection include commencement and convocation scripts, honorary degrees and award files, correspondence, and diagrams for university yard and Constituion Hall seating for graduations. They range in date from 1951 to 1987.

Acquisition Information

Materials acquired through transfers from the Department of Religion. Formerly RG9.25.

Preliminary Guide to the Religion Department records, 1951-1987
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

George Washington University Gelman Library
2130 H Street NW
Washington DC 20052 United States of America