MS – 208: The Jim Henderson Papers, Class of 1971

MS – 208: The Jim Henderson Papers, Class of 1971

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(2 boxes, 1 cubic foot)

Processed by Devin McKinney March 2017

Inclusive dates:  Early 1960s-2017

Bulk dates:  1969-71

Location:  Collections Room, Musselman Library


Gift of James G. Henderson ’71, March 31, 2016, and March 6, 2017.

Biographical-historical note

A native of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, Jim Henderson (nicknamed “Hendo”) entered Gettysburg College as a freshman in the fall of 1967.  During his four years, he participated in intramural sports; student government; Chapel Council; the first Communities of Risk (COR) encounter group; and numerous other student organizations.  He was an active member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, wrote and arranged a number of musical “masses” performed in conjunction with Christ Chapel worship services, and was a spearhead of the April 1969 Moratorium, a two-day, campus-wide program of educational workshops and policy discussions.

Henderson spent his junior year abroad, at the University of Bristol in England, and returned to graduate with a degree in religion.  Voted class speaker for his commencement ceremony, he came onstage bearing two saxophones and proceeded to play them, in unison, as part of his address.  Conservative commentator William F. Buckley, that year’s invited guest speaker, wrote a syndicated column about his experience, making disparaging remarks about contemporary students in general and mentioning Henderson (though not by name) in particular. 

After post-graduate work at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Jim Henderson went on to earn a master’s degree at Columbia University and a doctorate at Duke University.  During his long and varied career as an educator, he has also written music for film soundtracks and church services, and performed in support of the Temptations, the Coasters, the Pointer Sisters, and other acts.

Scope and content note

This collection contains documents, photographs, and other material, mostly relating to Jim Henderson’s career at Gettysburg College.  There are various writings, and a scrapbook with images covering Henderson’s life from just before to just after his time in Gettysburg.  A significant subset of material concerns Henderson’s commencement address, and the subsequent controversy.  The bulk of the material is in the form of handwritten scores and program notes created for various musical performances between 1966 and 1973.  Most of these are rock or jazz arrangements of religious themes, and most premiered at Gettysburg College. 

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