Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Claiborne M. Hill collection
Bulk Dates: (Bulk 1904-1934)
Collection number: GTU 2005-1-01
Hill, Claiborne M.
10 linear ft.
The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, financial correspondence, addresses, notes and sermons
Physical location: Shelf Location: 5/G/3 - 5/G/6
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Claiborne M. Hill collection, GTU 2005-1-01. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.
American Baptist Seminary of the West, 2005. ABSW retains ownership of the collection. It is on permanent deposit at the
Claiborne Milton Hill was born November 16, 1857 in Suisun, California, his parents Sterling and Sarah Russell. The family moved to Oregon where
he received his B.A. from the University of Oregon, 1881. He graduated from Rochester Theological Seminary in 1884 and was ordained into the Baptist ministry. It is claimed that he was the first native-born Californian to enter
the Baptist ministry. (Fleming, Pg. 107) He married Anna F. Pengra in December 1884, their children were Amy Helen (Mrs. Paul K. Yost) and Carey Sterling Hill. He served as pastor for the Eugene, Oregon Baptist Church 1884-90, as Superintendent of missions for the American Baptist Home Mission Society for Oregon, 1890-93, and as pastor of the 10th Ave. Baptist Church, Oakland, California 1893-1904 before assuming the presidency of
the Pacific Coast Baptist Seminary in 1904. He also taught Bible and practical theology. After his retirement from Berkeley Baptist Divinity School in 1937, he remained in Berkeley active in the community and in the Baptist associations until his death January 27, 1950. (
Who Was Who in America, Vol. 3 (1951-1960), A.N. Marquis Co.: Chicago, 1963.)
The Pacific Baptist Theological Union was incorporated in 1889 by a group of Baptist clergy and lay people with the express intention to establish a seminary for
the whole Pacific coast to fit men and women "for efficient ministerial, missionary, church and Sunday School work, and for
all kinds of practical Christian labor." (Fleming, Pg. 32) The school, known as the Pacific Baptist Theological Seminary, formally opened in Oakland, California in 1890 under the presidency of Edgar H. Gray. When Gray died in 1894, there was no one to continue the work of the seminary and instruction ceased. The Theological
Union however continued to meet to work on building the endowment and financial means to establish a school.
In late 1898 it was voted to reorganize under the name of Pacific Coast Baptist Theological Union. By-laws were adopted and the new agency incorporated. But it was not until 1904 that a committee on Baptist educational
work of the California Baptist Convention voted that instruction should be resumed and "the theological seminary be located
at Berkeley, California." (Fleming, Pg. 43) Dr. Claiborne M. Hill was elected President. Property was purchased at 2606
Dwight Way in Berkeley that included a three-story frame structure. The Pacific Coast Baptist Theological Seminary was opened August 15, 1904. The early years of the school were "fraught with [the] difficulties" of building financial support,
building a faculty, and building a student body. Dr. Hill persisted in his leadership. "[H]is perseverance in the face of
every difficulty was one of the factors that ultimately brought success. Allied with this were his patience under trial and
his never failing conviction that the enterprise was of God." (Fleming, Pg. 48)
The seminary name was changed to Berkeley Baptist Divinity School in 1915 after California College, a Baptist school in Oakland, was discontinued. BBDS continued under the California College
charter issued in 1892. Plans for a permanent building and collecting the necessary funds began in 1908. Julia Morgan was engaged as the architect in 1917, construction commenced in 1919, and the building was completed in 1921. BBDS enjoyed
a period of prosperity and growth. This included expanding and developing the curriculum as a graduate school meeting the
needs of those who had finished a full college course. The early years of the school had focused on training young people
of varying educational backgrounds.
Then came the upheaval of the Depression. "These years of the thirties were among the most difficult ever experienced by
many of the schools, and for some this decade was a race for survival." (Fleming, Pg. 68) BBDS did not escape the financial
crisis. Dr. Hill faced and worked these years as he had the early years of the school, with calm perseverance and steady
organization always moving toward the highest goals. "In 1937, after four difficult years, with each year adding to an accumulated
deficit, President Hill resigned, marking the end of an era in Berkeley's history. This had been a most notable period in
the school's life, marked by sacrificial devotion in the founding of the institution and its progression to a place of recognition
as a standard American Baptist seminary. The unique service of President Hill for 33 years in the establishment and development
of the school at Berkeley will always remain one of Berkeley's most cherished traditions. The school is a monument to his
dedication." (Fleming, Pg. 75)
The Making of Ministers: A History of Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, 1871-1961 (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1963).
Scope and Content of Collection
The Collection consists of four series: 1) Correspondence; 2) Financial Correspondence; 3) Addresses and Notes; and
4) Sermons. The Collection was transferred from the old library building stacks at the American Baptist Seminary of the West. The name was changed from Berkeley Baptist Divinity School in 1968. It was arranged in the order maintained here. The Correspondence was housed in all the same type and style of
letter file boxes ca. 1937. The Addresses and Notes, and the Sermons were housed in separate and more recent types of boxes.
Though C.M. Hill was President of the school 1904-1937, the correspondence in the Collection dates 1907-1934. It is unknown
what happened to the six years of missing correspondence.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Berkeley Baptist Divinity School--Administration
Berkeley Baptist Divinity School--History--Sources
Baptist theological seminaries--United States--History--Sources
Baptists--Clergy, training of--United States--History--Sources
Berkeley Baptist Divinity School
Pacific Coast Baptist Theological Union
Pacific Coast Baptist Seminary
Fleming, Sanford, 1888-
Hobart, Charles H.
Hoyt, John G.
Johnston, Oliver M. (Oliver Martin), 1866-
Padelford, Frank W. (Frank William), 1872-1944
Sly, Lucien H.
Morgan, Julia, 1872-1957