Historiographer, 1897-1991


30 boxes, 15 linear feet 

Historical Note:

In the Trinity Parish Newsletter of September 1959, then Historiographer Charles Bridgeman described his position as that of an historian who serves as the official writer of history for an institution. The first history of the Parish was written by the Rector William Berrian in 1847. In 1869, his successor Morgan Dix began a more detailed study under the supervision and authority of the Vestry. Dix was meticulous about keeping records and avidly interested in the lessons of history. He labored until 1898 at which time he presented to the Vestry the first volume of The Parish of Trinity Church in the City of New York, an account of Trinity’s history up to 1784. He then issued successive volumes more quickly: Volume II in 1901, III in 1905, and IV in 1906. When Morgan Dix died in 1908 the published history of the parish had been completed up to his own rectorship. An instinctive annalist, Dix instituted the informative Parish Year Books in 1874 which continued until 1939.

After Dix’s death, several historiographers were appointed to continue the history of the Parish but were unable to complete it due to health or mortality. The pattern continued when, in 1943, the Vestry organized an historical committee to prepare for the 100th anniversary of the Church in 1946 and the 250th anniversary of the Parish in 1947. Vestryman John A. Dix, the son of Morgan Dix, headed the committee which determined to continue the Parish History as part of the celebrations. However, John A. Dix died in 1945. The Rev. Dr. Leicester Crosby Lewis, vicar of St. Luke’s Chapel, gathered together the work of Dix and his predecessors and saw the project through to the galley proofs when he too passed away in 1949. Volume V, taking the history of the parish through the rectorship of Morgan Dix, was finally published in 1950. Dr. Stephen Bayne, appointed historiographer in 1950, worked on Volume VI until illness prevented him from continuing in 1956. The Rev. Charles T. Bridgeman succeeded him.

Bridgeman was able to complete Volume VI of the Parish history and did extensive research on Volume VII. He also found time to write the story of the Trinity Church Association recounting its work in running Trinity missions from its founding in 1879. Bridgeman worked closely with the keepers of the archives, first Helen Owen, then Helen Rose Cline, and declared them indispensable to the work of an historiographer.

When Bridgeman retired in 1964, Clifford P. Morehouse, former vestryman and Church Warden, was appointed Historiographer. Morehouse completed the last published Volume of the Parish History, Volume VII, in 1972 which takes the history of the Parish through the Rectorship of Frederic Fleming. In 1973, Morehouse published a short popular history of the Parish entitledTrinity: Mother of Churches. The Reverend Robert C. Hunsicker, the former vicar of St. Paul’s Parish, became Historiographer in 1975. Hunsicker, who retired in 1980, was the last formally appointed historiographer. In June 1980, the Rev. Dr. Parks hired John Goodbody, the Communications Officer of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, to write a popular paperback history of the Parish. Goodbody’s One Peppercorne was published in 1982.

Scope and Content Note:

This record group contains working papers for publications on the history of Trinity Church. There are research files, reference files, and drafts on volumes II through VIII (seven volumes were published) of The Parish of Trinity Church in the City of New York. Also represented here are background work and drafts for Trinity: Mother of Churches and One Peppercorne.