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Louisville Presbyterian Community Center records

Identifier: 1977_176-UA

This collection consists of 12 linear feet and includes a large number of photographs, circa 1900 to 1960's; several scrapbooks which cover various years and do not span the entire history of Presbyterian Community Center; programs, 1906-1928; budget papers for the years 1954-1960; community chest materials for 1956-1958; reports of audit for 1918-1961 (1919 is missing); annual reports circa 1908 to 1944 and minutes and correspondence from 1938 to 1962. Also included are various single items of interest: material prepared by Rev. John Little for a book of the history of the Presbyterian Colored Missions; letters from the Presbyterian Colored Missions from 1936-1944; and other miscellaneous items.

The community activities documented in the Presbyterian Community Center Papers include cooking and sewing classes, manual training, early recreational programs for black children, the Girl's Club, kindergartens, child health care, and activities for older persons.

Photographs comprise roughly four linear feet of the collection and are grouped in several different ways. There are photographs (circa 1910's - 1930) mounted on poster-type board which were obviously used for display purposes. There are two scrapbooks of photographs, one 1923-1924 and the other circa 1941. The scrapbooks are made up of "snapshot" type photographs.

There are other "snapshot" type photographs in the collection, circa 1919-1966. The term "snapshot" is being used to distinguish the smaller, seemingly less professional photographs from the other photographs, the larger part of the photographic collection.

The other photographs in the collection which are not contained in scrapbook, mounted on poster type board, or designated as snapshots are grouped chronologically where the date is known. Those without a date are grouped together by subject. Most of these photographs appear to have been taken by a professional photographer. Many are labeled on the photograph by the professional studio. There is a wealth of these photographs, mostly from the 1930's and 40's. Many of these photographs appear in various pamphlets and reports of the Presbyterian Colored Missions.

Items of interest (Box V) unclude manuscripts prepared by Rev. John Little for a book of the history of the Presbyterian Colored Missions ca. 1936, begun at the request of Louise J. Speed. Box VI contains letters from the Presbyterian Colored Missions 1934-1944. These are form letters and letters to Miss Louise J. Speed from John Little, Superintendent. The Committee of 100 is often mentioned in these letters. This was a group of friends of the Mission who gave financial aid.

Information on PCM's activities during the 1937 flood is found in box VI, letters from PCM 1934-49. Also several photographs of damages and shelter can be found in Box VIII, folder #4. See also, annual report for 1937.

The scrapbooks contain news clippings, pamphlets, etc. for the years during which the individual scrapbooks were maintained. Boxes XI and XII (programs 1906-1928), contain the programs for different events which happened at PCM. They are fastened to pages and had been accumulated in a sort of scrapbook.


  • 1893-1973


Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in the Presbyterian Community Center Records have not been transferred to the University of Louisville.


12 linear feet

Organizational history

Six divinity students from the Louisville Presybterian Theological Seminary founded the earliest predecessor of the Presbyterian Community Center as Hope Sunday School on February 6, 1898, in a lottery office on Preston Street. A second Sunday School developed a year later at Jackson and Lampton and eventually became Grace Mission Station. Support for both endeavors, located in the Smoketown neighborhood east of downtown Louisville, came from students and professors at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

In his unpublished history of the Presbyterian Community Center, Rev. John Little wrote: "In the original plan the students only contemplated carrying on the Sunday School for three months, to the close of the Seminary year and to conduct on Sunday and Wednesday evenings preaching service in the same building. As the weeks passed, however, the interest of the workers increased and the pupils' willingness to be taught unconsciously generated in the minds of the founders the conviction that some effort should be made to evangelize the colored race, and systematically they visited the absent pupils in their homes and were appalled as they saw the poverty of their wards, the dens of iniquity in the neighborhood, the saloons and gambling holes, and became conscious of the fact that there was little effort being made by the christian forces of the city to minister to the needs of this particular section." (John Little, Manuscript History, Box V, Folder 2.)

The two Sunday Schools expanded to become organized churches with broad community programs. Financial support came from sponsoring churches, friends, and the Community Chest. Grace and Hope came to be called the Presbyterian Colored Missions, but in 1955 the name changed to the John Little Presbyterian Centers. In 1965 the name changed again to Presbyterian Community Center, John Little, Founder. The missions have occupied several locations in east downtown Louisville. Rev. Little served as superintendent until his death in 1948, when his assistant, Rev. Charles Allen, took over. Allen died in 1962 and Rev. Grayson L. Tucker, Jr., became executive director of the John Little Presbyterian Centers. The Presbyterian Community Center ceased operations on December 31, 2013.

Among the activities administered by the center through the years were cooking and sewing classes, manual training, the first playground for Black children in the city of Louisville (1904), first girls' club (1906), kindergartens established when they were dropped from the public schools (1956), extensive recreational programs, child health care, and activities for older adults.

Presbyterian Community Center Records
Under Revision
Archives Staff
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752