MS – 186: Papers of the Christ Chapel Community Welfare Program
(1 box, .27 cubic feet)
Processed by Devin McKinney
Inclusive dates: 1967-71
Bulk dates: 1968-70
The papers consist of 1 box containing 6 folders; 2 boxes; and 8 envelopes.
No records are available to document the provenance of the collection. It most likely originated within Christ Chapel and was donated to Special Collections by a member thereof, possibly in conjunction with other chapel materials.
The Community Welfare Program grew from the socially engaged ministry of Rev. John Vannorsdall, chaplain of Gettysburg College from 1962 to 1976. Vannorsdall had instituted, in 1964, a tutorial service pairing students from the college with at-risk local youths; Community Welfare, launched in the summer of 1968, sought to expand these services. Coordinating (not always smoothly) with local agencies, Gettysburg students provided recreational and cultural opportunities for children from the predominantly African-American Third Ward, and with adults worked on economic and child-care issues. The program also reached out, in the form of educational and athletic programs, to migrant farm workers and their families in nearby Hunterstown.
For three successive summers, student program members planned and supervised such activities as softball games; swimming parties; movie showings; parties at the local “Soul Shack”; and field trips to Camp Nawakwa, near Arendtsville. But the insoluble challenges that were encountered, combined with a lack of firm goals and chronic shortages of money, time, and training, made it impractical to continue the program as it stood. Instead, in the summer of 1971, students volunteered with local agencies to give specific assistance through preexisting services. This effectively ended the Community Welfare Program, though the original tutorial component continued for the remainder of Vannorsdall’s chaplaincy.
Scope and content note
Though small and fragmentary, this collection contains important evidence dating from a crucial historical moment. It is particularly valuable to understanding how Gettysburg College responded to heightened pressures (from within and without) to diversify, engage, and reach across lines of race, economics, and social status.
Included are ephemeral announcements of program activities; inter-office memos; purchase receipts; correspondence between and from program members; questionnaires filled out by community children; and photographs taken at program activities.
Special Collections possesses several other resources that usefully augment these papers. Among them are:
o Box 11, Folder 3 – Chaplain’s Office
o Box 11, Folder 4 – Christ Chapel, 1970-1971
o Box 11, Folder 6 – Christ Chapel, 1969-1970
o Box 11, Folder 8 – Chaplain’s Office
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