Biography / Administrative History
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Donald G. Brockett collection
Identifier/Call Number: GTU 2009-8-01
Brockett, Donald G., 1937-1986
1 linear foot
The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
Abstract: Donald G. Brockett, 1937-1986, was a Congregational minister. While a seminarian at Andover Newton Theological School, Brockett
participated in efforts to integrate the Boston public schools, volunteering as a teacher in the Freedom School Movement in
1964. He served various parishes before assuming the pastorship of the Suisun-Fairfield First Congregational Church in Suisun
City, California, in 1971, a position he held until the mid-1980s. The collection comprises correspondence, photographs, and
audio tapes, most of which were written, recorded, or collected by Donald G. Brockett, documenting his religious and intellectual
development and pastoral work in Massachusetts and California. Although the bulk of the correspondence was written by Brockett
to his parents, the collection contains scattered letters from theologians and ministers, including Paul Tillich. Audio tapes
contain sermons, lectures, messages, and conversations by Brockett and others, including John C. Bennett and Morton Kelsey.
Physical location: 5/J/4
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.
Donald G. Brockett collection, Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.
Biography / Administrative History
Donald G. Brockett, also known as Guy Brockett, was born on June 25, 1937, in Riverside, California. Brockett attended the
University of Redlands in Redlands, California, graduating in 1961 with a Bachelor in Arts degree. In the fall of 1960, he
traveled to Central and Eastern Europe with a group of University of Redlands students, meeting young communists with whom
he would maintain correspondence. Between 1961 and 1965, he attended Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts,
graduating in 1965 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. While a student at Andover Newton, Brockett edited the student newspaper
Hillview, and held a number of pastoral positions, including youth director at Grace Baptist Church in Arlington, Massachusetts, student
chaplain at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and interim pastor at First Baptist Church in Malone, New York. As
a young seminarian, Brockett took a keen interest in the new religious and social movements that swept the 1960s, reading
widely and participating in the Boston Freedom School movement in February 1964.
On July 25, 1965, Donald G. Brockett was ordained at the First Congregational Church in Riverside. He served as pastor at
the First Baptist Church in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and psychiatric social worker at Lowell Mental Health Center in 1966
and 1967, respectively. Between 1968 and 1970, Rev. Brockett served as minister to youth and young adults at the First Congregational
Church in Oakland, California, participating in ecumenical and integrationist efforts in the Oakland area. In 1971, he began
attending classes at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and assumed his new pastoral role as minister
at the Suisun-Fairfield First Congregational Church in Suisun City, California, a position he held for many years until he
was stricken with sarcoidosis in the 1980s. Rev. Brockett died on December 12, 1986, in Loma Linda, California, at the age
Scope and Content of Collection
Spanning the years 1955 to 1975, this collection comprises correspondence, audio tapes, photographs, slides, and other papers
illuminating the personal and pastoral life of Congregational minister Donald G. Brockett. In particular, the collection sheds
light on Rev. Brockett's political, intellectual, and religious development as a young seminarian and minister; his pastoral
work in the Baptist and Congregational churches; and his ecumenical and integrationist efforts in Massachusetts and California.
The bulk of the material in the collection was written, recorded, or collected by Rev. Brockett and mailed to his parents,
Ralph H. and Margaret Brockett of Riverside. It was donated to the Graduate Theological Union Archives by Rev. Brockett's
sister-in-law, Linda Brockett, in August 2009.
The collection consists of three series: Correspondence (1959-1975), Subject Files, and Audio Tapes (1955-1974). Audio Tapes
have been divided into two sub-series: Reel-to-Reel Tapes (1955-1970) and Cassettes (1969-1974). Subject files are arranged
topically; all other series are arranged chronologically. The bulk of the correspondence was written by Rev. Brockett to his
parents, Ralph H. and Margaret Brockett, concerning his experiences as a student, seminarian, and minister in Massachusetts,
New York, and California. In his letters, Rev. Brockett grapples with the new religious and social movements of the 1960s,
describing and justifying his participation in the Boston Freedom School movement in 1964, as well as his ecumenical and integrationist
efforts in Oakland in the late 1960s. The collection also includes scattered letters to Rev. Brockett from theologians and
ministers, including Paul Tillich, Walter Brueggman, Nels Ferre, Paul Clasper, Culbert Rutenber, Rev. Jim Strathdee, Rev.
Bruce Van Blair, Rev. Keith Miller, Rev. William Arthur, and Rev. Owen Miller; letters to Rev. Brockett from European pen
pals; and correspondence between Margaret Brockett and her pastor, Rev. Ernest Hereen of Riverside First Congregational Church.
Subject files comprise awards, certificates, cards, newspaper clippings, sermons, photographs, slides, and other personal
material, as well as a short biography of Rev. Brockett written by his mother. Audio Tapes, in reel-to-reel and cassette format,
consist of sermons by Rev. Brockett, Rev. Paul Yinger, and Rev. Ernest Hereen; lectures by Morton Kelsey and John C. Bennett;
messages to and from Rev. Brockett and his friend, Rev. Bruce Van Blair of the Altadena Congregational Church; messages from
Rev. Brockett to his parents; and conversations between Rev. Brockett and Rev. Van Blair. Messages and conversations between
Rev. Brockett and Rev. Van Blair are particularly intimate, revealing details about the friends' personal and pastoral lives;
spiritual and psychological conflicts; and thoughts on theology, psychology, sexuality, and ethics.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Suisun Fairfield United Church of Christ, Congregational (Suisun City, Calif.)
Congregationalists - Clergy - California
Congregationalists - Clergy - California - Correspondence
Seminarians - Massachusetts - Correspondence
Seminarians - Massachusetts
Index Terms Related to this Collection
Brockett, Donald G., 1937-1986 - Correspondence
Bennett, John C. (John Coleman), 1902-1995
Kelsey, Morton T.
Tillich, Paul, 1886-1965