Fr Alexander Schmemann Papers

Subject: Schmemann, Alexander, 1921-1983
Collection date(s): 1930-1983
Extent and forms of material: 24 acid-free containers; correspondence, manuscripts, postcards, pictures, notebooks, and personal items.

*Note: There are recordings of Fr Schmemann's lectures at St Vladimir's Seminary and from Radio Liberty available on cassette tapes in the library. To view our holdings for these tapes in the catalog, click on the link in the far right column in the container list.

Biographical notes: Fr Alexander Schmemann was one of the most influential Orthodox theologians of the 20th century. He was an outstanding priest, dynamic preacher, and prophetic visionary. Born in 1921 in Tallinn, Estonia, where his family fled after the 1917 Russian Revolution, he was raised and educated in France. It was providential that he studied at the St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, where a number of exceptional emigré Russian Orthodox theologians and scholars taught. In 1943, he married Juliana Ossorguine and was ordained a priest in 1946.

After teaching Church History at St Sergius Institute from 1946-1951, Fr Schmemann joined the faculty of St Vladimir’s Seminary, then based in New York City.  He became Dean of St Vladimir’s Seminary in 1962 and remained in that position until his death in 1983. At various times, he also had adjunct positions at Columbia University, New York University, Union Theological Seminary, and General Theological Seminary.

Fr Schmemann was a much sought-after speaker and preacher throughout North America and Europe. In addition to his books and many articles, for many years he regularly recorded weekly messages for “Radio Liberty” which were broadcast to the Soviet Union, where he had a large underground following. Over the course of his career, Fr Schmemann received many honors and accolades for his academic achievements as well as for his service to the Church. A member of the Orthodox Church in America, he was accorded the title of Protopresbyter, one of  the highest honors bestowed on a priest.

Language of material: English, Russian, Greek, and French

Scope and content: Collection spans the length of the creator’s career  with emphasis on his administrative duties and academic activity as the Dean of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.  The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence to Fr Schmemann, notes for public lectures, and the transcripts for his sermons on "Radio Liberty".

Subject headings

  • Ecumenical Movement
  • National Council of Churches
  • Orthodox Church in America
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Religion--Philosophy
  • Russian Literature
  • St Sergius Theological Institute (Paris, France)
  • St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, NY)
  • Theological Education
  • World Council of Churches

System of arrangement: The correspondence is arranged chronologically and divided into personal and administrative letters. Items of special interest or one’s authored by the creator are arranged separately in alphabetical order.  The transcripts of his Sunday sermons and academic writings are arranged alphabetically.