The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary Special Collections

Location: Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway (between 120th and 122nd)
Research Hours: Monday-Friday, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm or 2:00-4:00 pm, by appointment only.
For more information: contact [email protected] or (212) 851-5606.

Union Theological Seminary (UTS) is a non-denominational Christian seminary originally founded in 1836. The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, part of the Columbia University Libraries, is one of the largest theological libraries in North America, renowned for its holdings of over 700,000 volumes as well as its extensive special collections.

For an introduction to “Queer Books in the Burke Library,” follow the link to view a web comic offering a humorous, detailed, and visually compelling introduction to LGBTQ-themed print material in the stacks of Burke Library. It is recommended both as a pathway in to the Burke Library’s circulating book holdings relating to sexuality and LGBTQ studies and as a thought-provoking reconsideration of the intersection of queerness and religion through the lens of critical librarianship.


The Archives of Women in Theological Scholarship (AWTS) holds the papers of some of the most prominent and influential female theologians, Biblical scholars, professors of divinity, and religious activists of the twentieth century, including many who researched, wrote, taught, and preached about sexuality and gender. The listings below highlight some collections of particular interest to scholars of the history of sexuality; however, these selections represent only a portion of the holdings of personal papers available in the archive. For an introduction to some of the collections in the AWTS at Burke Library, visit this AWTS Virtual Exhibition

Letty Mandeville Russell Papers

Letty Mandeville Russell (1929-2007) was a prominent feminist theologian, educator, and religious activist whose writings and organizing work profoundly influenced discussions of gender, sexuality, and religion in Christian, interfaith, and academic contexts. Her papers (1952-2005, bulk 1975-2000) contain syllabi and course materials, manuscripts and notes for her writings, and documents and correspondence relating to her work with many professional, nonprofit, and ecumenical organizations.

Alison Palmer Papers

Alison Palmer (b. 1931) worked for many years in the State Department, against whom she fought a decades-long legal battle for sex discrimination, before feeling called to become a priest and receiving an “irregular” ordination through the Episcopal Church in 1975. She has worked actively to support women’s and gay and lesbian causes in the church. Her papers (1937-2010, bulk 1960-2010) include liturgies and sermons relating to the ordination of women, correspondence, litigation files from sex discrimination cases, Foreign Service documents, photographs, awards, newspaper articles, autobiographical writings, and books from her personal library.

Beverly Wildung Harrison Papers

Beverly Wildung Harrison (1932-2014), known as “the mother of Christian feminist social ethics,” served as a Presbyterian minister and professor at Union Theological Seminary. Her numerous essays, books, sermons, and lectures substantially influenced the fields of feminist religious studies and Christian ethics by exploring the ethical dimensions of feminism, sexuality, abortion, economics, education, and the church. The collection includes drafts and annotated copies of her writings; syllabi and teaching materials; correspondence; and extensive subject files on gender, sexuality, and religious topics.

Phyllis Trible Papers

Phyllis Trible (b. 1932) is a Biblical scholar, professor, and lecturer whose ground-breaking use of feminist hermeneutics helped to transform the interpretation of the Bible’s teachings on gender and sexuality. Her papers (1954-2015, bulk 1980-2005) contain personal and professional correspondence, teaching files, and manuscripts and drafts of her books, articles, lectures, and sermons.

Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz Papers

As a theologian, teacher, and activist, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz (1943-2012) was a prominent exponent of feminist and liberation theology whose writings developed a mujerista theology, a feminist approach to religion rooted in the Latina experience. Born in Havana, she served as a missionary in Peru and studied and taught in the United States and Cuba. The collection includes papers relating to her participation in the Women’s Ordination Conference and other feminist religious activism, recordings of her lectures, presentations, and interviews, publications, teaching materials, and correspondence.

Carter Heyward Papers

Carter Heyward (b. 1945) is a prominent lesbian feminist theologian and one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in the Episcopalian tradition. Her writings, including eleven books and numerous sermons and articles, explore feminism, lesbian sexuality, connections between eroticism and the divine, family values, and other political and spiritual themes. Her papers include personal and professional correspondence; sermons, lectures, and publications; her course syllabi; papers relating to political movements; copies of her books and other volumes from her personal collection; and video and audiotapes.

emilie m. townes Papers

emilie m. townes (b. 1955) is a prominent womanist theologian, ethicist, author, and professor. Her sermons and writings address themes of African American women’s spirituality, racial and sexual oppression, health and healing, and social justice in the church. In 2013 she became dean of Vanderbilt’s divinity school, sparking controversy from religious conservatives opposed to her progressive theology and open lesbian identity. Her papers (1971-2015, bulk 1985-2005) include correspondence, course materials, sermons and lectures on sexuality, homophobia, and AIDS in the church and other topics, miscellaneous writings, and assorted professional and personal files.

Ann Belford Ulanov Papers

Ann Belford Ulanov has worked as a Jungian psychoanalyst and professor of psychiatry and religion, and has published over twenty books on spirituality, psychology, gender, identity, and sexuality. Her papers (1951-2015, bulk 1970-2002) include administrative and course files, book drafts, articles, workshops, lectures, sermons, and correspondence.