Currently on display in the library are selections from our New Religious Movements Research Collections. The GTU was one of the first institutions to formally study the evolving nature of new religious organizations, from Hare Krishna to the Unification Church.. These materials are from our 10 main NRM archival collections.
California has historically been a center for the development and practice of non-traditional or alternative religious movements. In the 1960s, there was a large growth of new religious ideas and organizations. Scholars from different disciplines began to study these new religions in order to understand-and for some, to help suppress-these groups.
In 1977, the Graduate Theological Union established the Center for the Study of New Religious Movements and the New Religious Movements Research Collection. After an active five years, it closed in 1982.
J. Stillson Judah, then library director and a pioneer in the NRM field, had long been a collector of information on New Religious Groups. With the establishment of the Center, the library began to collect a wider range of these materials, gathering information from hundreds of groups and organizations in California and across the United States, as well as purchasing books and periodicals.
GTU's Archives was established in 1989. In 2001, the Archives received a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, through the California State Library, to process and organize this and other NRM collections. Today, the Archives has over 200 linear feet of NRM materials. The collections are particularly strong on new religious groups in America between the periods of 1950 through 1990.
This exhibit shows some of the organizations that became noteworthy in the 1960s and 1970s have thrived and became institutions and others that just faded away. Some of what was "new" in the Seventies and Eighties, such as yoga and meditation practices, has become part of the fabric of American culture.
For links to the finding aids for the collections go to: New Religious Movements.