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Research Guides

Religion and Society in the Pacific Northwest: Topics

Records of religious congregations and organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and papers of persons involved in these organizations, supporting the study of the region's social, political and economic history.


Religious convictions have led individuals and faith organizations to be involved in societal issues. Areas where this involvement is documented in Special Collections holdings include the topics listed below.  Organizations with concerns in multiple areas are listed on the Organizations page.

   Civil Rights

    Labor Rights


   Poverty, Homelessness, and Hunger


CFRE pamphlet

Accession 4000, Box 1/12

Civil Rights

Christian Friends for Racial Equality records, 1942-1970.

Established in 1942 as an outgrowth of a series of community luncheons on race relations held at the Seattle YMCA, this multi-racial, multi-faith  organization fought racial and religious discrimination through education and outreach, bringing such issues are fair housing before the public, more than 20 years before federal and state legislation.

Church of the People (Seattle) records, 1925-1980 (bulk 1934-1956)

Founded in 1934 by Fred Shorter, former pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church, this social activist congregation expressed its commitment to civil rights through support of national bodies such as the ACLU, NAACP,  and the National Urban League, and local groups such the Christian Friends for Racial Equality.  

Labor Rights

Church Council of Greater Seattle records, 1913-2000.

Founded in 1919 as the Seattle Federation of Churches with the stated purpose "to promote the welfare, comity and cooperation of the churches and to foster religious movements and community betterment."  Over its history, the organization has championed social service and activism on a wide range of issues including labor rights. 

Church of the People (Seattle) records, 1925-1980 (bulk 1934-1956)

Soon after is founding in 1934, this social activist church arranged the first mass meeting for the longshoremen in the waterfront strike, and later took an active part in the 1936 Newspaper Guild strike against the Post-Intelligencer.  Labor rights was a consistent topic in its weekly Peoples Forums.

Washington Association of Churches records, 1920-1996.

Created by a group of Protestant churches as their agency for cooperative planning, Christian fellowship and united action, the WAC's social concerns included migrant workers.  Box 9 of Accession 1567-001 contains records of the Migrant Affairs Committee, 1940-1966.


Church of the People (Seattle) records, 1925-1980 (bulk 1934-1956)

Though not a pacifist congregation, international understanding was a major emphasis of this social activist church founded in 1934 by Fred W. Shorter.  The collection includes documents of the All-Peoples Student Center, built in 1947 under the church's sponsorship to house foreign students attending the University of Washington.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action records, 1956-2009.

Records from two nonviolent groups, the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and its parent body the Pacific Life Community, whose members protested the nuclear arms race, particularly Trident nuclear submarines at the Bangor Naval Submarine Base in Kitsap County, Washington.  Christian pacifist principles strongly informed the actions of these groups.  There is also an extensive visual materials collection.

Richard J. Carbray papers, 1960-1978.

Carbray was a Catholic peace activist and chairman of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV),working closely with the Berrigans and other individual resisters and protest groups.

Sydney Dix Strong papers, 1860-1938.

Clergyman, political activist, father of Anna Louise Strong.  Diary, writings, notes, sermons, scrapbooks, correspondence, and other papers re. his activities as a student, Congregational minister, missionary, and writer and editor on pacifism and other social movements.

University Baptist Church sanctuary movement records, 1982-1990.

Led by its pastor, Donovan Cook, UBC declared itself a sanctuary for Central American refugees on December 5, 1982, becoming the first publicly declared sanctuary in the Northwest. UBC successfully petitioned the city of Seattle to declare itself a Sanctuary City, sent relief workers and supplies to El Salvador, and toured the Northwest advocating the sanctuary program's implementation in those areas. Members of UBC also founded Amparo, a newsletter about the sanctuary movement in the Puget Sound area. In addition, UBC was an active local voice in opposition to U.S. foreign policy.

World Without War Council of Greater Seattle records, 1952-1986.

The World Without War Council of Greater Seattle is one member of a national organization concerned with war, peace and human rights, founded by Quaker activist Robert Pickus.  Among the subgroups of this large collection are files relating to the Religious Resources Center.

Poverty, Homelessness, and Hunger

Neighbors in Need records, ca. 1970-1974.

Founded by the Church Council of Greater Seattle to assist the unemployed by food banks and related services.  Correspondence, minutes, legal documents, reports, and legislation.  Accession 3000-1 and 3000-2.


Carrie M. White papers, 1882-1891.

Contains a diary (1882-84) and letters relative to White's life as a settler on Fidalgo Island and to her involvement with the Women's National Christian Temperance Union.

Harold Weeks papers, 1910-1966.

Seattle songwriter, active in the Christian Science Church and temperance movement.

Lucy Gearhart papers, 1834-1961.

Gearhart was a Tacoma civic leader, suffragist, and temperance activist and historina.  Collection includes material relating to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Western Washington.