Special Collections


Special Collections and Archives support the curriculum and preserve the records of the Graduate Theological Union. The collections are dedicated to diverse religious dialogue, the Christian and wider religious intellectual heritage, the American religious experience in the West, and the ministries and missions of the Member Schools and Institutes of the GTU.

Rare Books may only be accessed by appointment.

Archives may be accessed Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm, when the viewing space is available. If you plan on visiting, please submit a request at least two days in advance to GTU Archives. Please indicate the collection and which boxes/folders you would like to view. Due to staffing limitations,  we are unable to fulfill your request on the same day without prior notification. For additional contact and visiting information regarding the collections, go to Archives.

To access our digital content sites, go to this landing page and follow the various links to the different sites.

If you are interested in donating materials or funding for archives or rare books, see our Gift  page.

Rare Books

Vellum Leaf, Vulgate Bible, 1150 AD
France, 10.5 x 7.25 inches

The Rare Book Collection was integrated from the separate collections developed by the individual libraries of the Member Schools into the GTU Common Library when it was established in 1969. These collections had been built to support the theological, philosophical, and cultural aims of the individual schools in the context of their respective ecclesial, denominational, and educational commitments. These collections form the core component of the current GTU Rare Book Collection now numbering over 8,000 volumes.

Dating primarily from the Reformation period to the end of the nineteenth century, the Collection contains material from the areas of Biblical, Systematic, and Moral Theology, and denominational missions, apologetics, and polity. Latin and German texts predominate among the older works; English, Greek, French, Spanish, and Hebrew are also represented. Strengths include a sizeable collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century editions of patristic authors, as well as early and later scholastic theology (Basil, Augustine, Gregory, Aquinas, Suarez, etc.)

The collection also includes numerous printed Bibles; exegesis, sermons, treatises, etc; numerous editions of the Book of Common Prayer; other Protestant and Catholic liturgical works, books of devotion, and hymnals; denominational histories; biographies and autobiographies of theologians and religious figures; and a collection of miniature books. In addition to materials of direct interest to particular ecclesial or denominational communities, the Collection includes works that represent 20th Century movements of radical thought, the New Age, and New Religious Movements.

For additional information about accessing rare books, see the Rare Book page.




Bede Griffiths Starr King Anne McGrew Bennett Richard York, 1967

Representative Archival Collections. From left, Bede Griffiths, Catholic monk in India; Thomas Starr King, Unitarian minister; Anne McGrew Bennett, Women, Peace and Social Justice Activist; and Richard York, Berkeley Free Church, 1967, a street ministry in the South Campus community.


The Archives contains the Manuscript Collection and the Institutional Record of the Graduate Theological Union. Together, the repository houses fourteen hundred linear feet of materials from over 400 collections.

The Manuscript Collection supports the study of religious activities in Northern California, the Pacific Coastal area west of the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Rim. These collections reflect ecumenism, inter-religious activity, new religious movements, religious and ethnic plurality, women in religion, and gays and lesbians in religion. While many of the collections date from 1950 through the present, some collections deposited by member schools go back to the 19th century. Among the most noteworthy is the Thomas Starr King Collection, 1837-1964. Collections from the recent past document the efforts of religious minded people to effect change in the world.

The Institutional Record preserves the records of the GTU administration and program units. These collections tell the story of the GTU and its affiliates and document modern religious education and  trends.

For more information, see Archives.

Among the special collections are:

To explore our online exhibits and digital content, go to this landing page.

To explore our online finding aids, you may use the form below:



Sacred Art Collections

Future Buddha, MaitreyaIn 2014, the Institute for Aesthetic Development (IAD) and F. Lanier Graham donated an extensive teaching collection of sacred objects from throughout the world to the Graduate Theological Union. In 2021, the library created a virtual exhibition of some of the over 500 spiritual and ritual objects from the collection.

To access the GTU Sacred World Art Collection, select virtual exhibition. The link to the catalog provides access to additional objects.

The GTU has taught the study of art and religion since shortly after its founding in 1962. The Archives contain the papers and records of Doug Adams (1945-2007), longtime art professor and founder of the Center for the Arts & Religion.   Supporting the study of  modern spirituality, there is Charlene Spretnak's  The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art, 1800 to the Present Research Collection.  In addition to the GTU Sacred World Art artifacts, F. Lanier Graham donated a collection of manuscripts and course packs . Since the opening of the library in 1981,  the GTU has hosted a number of remarkable exhibits.  One of the most fondly remembered is the Christo and Peter Selz, The Running Fence Project Revisited in 1988. A more recent highlight is the artists roundtable for  "A View from the Bench: Social Justice in Art, Law, and Religion of the Chicano Community" from 2018.

Additional Resources on Holy Hill

Bade Museum of Biblical Archeology, Pacific School of Religion  The resources in the Bade are primarily from the excavation made by William Bade at Tell en-Nasbeh from 1925 through 1934.  The artifacts reveal the everyday life in Palestine 3000 years ago. There is online access to the artifacts.

Blackfriars Gallery, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology Along with their Biblical Movie Poster collection, Blackfriars Gallery and Library has impressive collections of Coptic Sacred Art, Religious Prints, Holy Cards, Liturgical Textiles, Spanish Colonial objects, St. Dominic's Press, and other artifacts. 

Center for the Arts and Religion (CARe)  The dream of both Douglas G. Adams and Jane Daggett Dillenberger (1916-2014) was to establish a museum/art gallery on Holy Hill.  The Doug Adams Gallery presents contemporary art and religion exhibitions on a regular basis. Especially remarkable has been their window exhibits through the pandemic. They have a small collection of paintings, prints and objects. Significantly, they provide a wide variety of educational opportunities through their grant program and general support for art and religion research activities.

The Graduate School of Theology at the University of Redlands, home of the San Francisco Theological Seminary  The seminary has a long history of supporting arts, drama and music. Over its 150 years, the seminary acquired a remarkable collection of rare books and artifacts. These include:

  • Dr. Edward Arthur Wicher’s collection of ancient oil lamps and clay pieces from Palestine
  • Coptic textiles (4) originally from the Louis C. Tiffany Collection of Greek and Coptic Textiles
  • Italian Antiphonary, 15th century, from the library of William Morris
  • German psalter, 17th century
  • Rare Bibles and other printed material (see Grace)
  • Chinese Christian posters 
  • Two melodions from the 19th century, one used in an 1851 service in San Francisco
  • Artifacts from pioneer minister and educator Samuel H. Willey (1821-1914)
  • Scrapbooks, manuscripts, pamphlets from Presbyterian missionary efforts in 19th century, ranging from Chinatown to Utah to Alaska.

Contact Dr. Christopher Ocker at San Francisco Theological Seminary, Graduate School of Theology, University of Redlands Marin Campus for more information.


"The theme of the Graduate Theological Union goes beyond the ecumenical movement and beyond interfaith programs to strike a much more profound chord in the life of a human family."

Bishop John S. Cummins, "Reading the Signs of the Times: The Heritage and Promise of the GTU," Sept 17, 2008, convocation, citing David W. Louisell from talk at St. Albert's College in 1966.