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bMS 603

Adams, James Luther, 1901-1994. German Church Leaders, Films, ca. 1930s: A Finding Aid.

Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University


Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: bMS 603
Repository: Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University
Creator: Adams, James Luther, 1901-1994.
Title: Adams, James Luther, 1901-1994. German Church Leaders, Films, ca. 1930s.
Date(s): 1930
Quantity: 4 boxes
Abstract: Three films made by James Luther Adams on prominent German figures such as Karl Barth and Albert Schweitzer, as well as religious leaders. The films are from ca. 1930s.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of the James Luther Adams Foundation.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Biographical / Historical

James Luther Adams (1901-1994) is considered to be the most influential theologian among American Unitarian Universalists in the twentieth century. He was born in Ritzville, Washington, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1924 and Harvard Divinity School in 1927. He was ordained as a Unitarian minister in 1927 at the Second Church in Salem, where he served as minister until 1934. He was also a minister in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, from 1934 to 1935. Adams taught at the Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago from 1936 to 1943, and in 1946 he earned a PhD from the University of Chicago. In 1957, he left Chicago to join the faculty of Harvard Divinity School, where he was Professor of Christian Ethics. He retired from Harvard in 1968, but continued to teach at Andover Newton Theological Seminary and Meadville Lombard. In his teaching, Adams promoted the works of Paul Tillich, Ernst Troeltsch, and Karl Holl, and focused on the theology of social ethics.

Scope and Contents

In the mid-1930s James Luther Adams went to Germany, where he observed how the Nazi government crushed dissent as it moved across the continent. Using a home movie camera, Adams filmed Karl Barth, Albert Schweitzer, and other religious leaders, as well as pro-Nazi leaders of the German Christian church. This collection consists of three films created by Adams during his time in Germany. The titles are "James Luther Adams, 1936 Christian Leaders," "Strasburg," and "Christian Leaders of Nazi Germany." In 2007 these films were reformatted to digital betacam preservation copies and DVDs. This collection includes the original eight-millimeter black-and-white film and these reformatted copies. The James Luther Adams Foundation used these films to create The Adams Tapes, which is a documentary about prominent church leaders in Germany in the 1930s. These tapes include commentary by Adams and George Huntston Williams (the films in this collection do not include soundtracks). These films were also used in the production of a film entitled Storm Troopers of Christ: Baptism and the Jews in Nazi Germany, which was written, produced, and directed by Steven D. Martin in 2007. A copy of this film (in DVD format) is included in box 4 of this collection.

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