1938 In Depth Work Log Book of Episcopal Reverend and Youth Leader Arthur O. Phinney on Running Youth Programs, Church Recruitment and More

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On offer is a notebook used to record notes on his work, kept by the National Director of a large, Episcopal church-based youth program in the mid-20th century. 

The notebook belonged to the Reverend Arthur Osgood Phinney (1892-1978). Phinney was an Episcopal Archdeacon and National Executive Secretary of youth programs within the church, running camps and conferences. He also traveled frequently to the 80 dioceses across the USA, promoting new methods of Christian education. Prior to his work in the church, Phinney served in the US Army in France as an ambulance driver in the American Field Service. He married Lucile Flagg, and together they had three boys: Frederick, Arthur and William. 

At the time Phinney kept this notebook, he was National Director of the Order of Sir Galahad, having been elected in 1937 [SEE NOTES ON THE ORDER OF SIR GALAHAD FOLLOWING LISTING]. 

On the cover of the book, Phinney has listed priorities related to his youth department: “NY Leader’s Meeting…Lecture for…School…National Galahad Conference June 9, 10, 11 1939”

The notebook provides a comprehensive look at Phinney’s work in the year 1938. It is not always linear, as he clearly used this as a work journal. A large portion is devoted to his youth ministry as Director of the Order. It contains names, addresses, guidelines for various aspects of his ministry, etc. He makes extensive notes about the projects he is working on for the youth programs for which he is executive secretary. 

Some topics he notes include Counsellor Training, Provincial Officers Addresses, Camp Director’s Seminar, Suggestions for [Camp] O-AT-KA 1939, [Objectives of the] Dept on Youth Divis of Mass., Wednesday Afternoon Conference (notes about what the youth would be interested in and topics to cover), Leadership Training Group, What is Expected of [Youth] Members Outside of the Church, Evaluation Charts, Pamphlets, Youth Rally, and so much more.

This journal is full of Phinney’s notes about how to run youth programming in the year of 1938, looking toward a summer of youth camps in 1939. His notes are in-depth, lay out expectations of the youth, teaching plans, plans for executive meetings, and state the purpose of his ideas. It is clear from this book that Phinney was deeply devoted to helping young people be good Christians and this book demonstrates how he did this. This journal could be used by any organization to guide the development of successful courses and programs for youth. 

One small example is how he outlines a detailed curriculum for a Leadership Course for youth. While this section is many pages, an excerpt is provided where he notes General Requirements For Christian Leaders:

“a) Consecration to the task, b) Social adjustability, c) Some special skill, d) Some way of self-evaluation plus a method by which others may evaluate his work”. 

The final eight pages of the notebook contain a lecture to Canvassers for the Church, which he gave at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Watertown, MA in 1938. He addresses people who go out from their parish into their communities to recruit or enroll members. He openly draws from sales ideas of his time – a time that was well-known for door-to-door sales.

For a social historian, this notebook offers an excellent tool to compare principles of youth organizations in the 1930’s with those of today. The challenges regarding youth were very different in 1938 but no less daunting. Of course one thing a social historian would note immediately is that there are no references to girls – they were invisible.

ABOUT THE ORDER: The Order of Sir Galahad was an organization for Anglican and Episcopal boys and men, founded in Boston in 1896 by the Reverend Ernest J. Dennen. The Order's activities were structured around Galahad in Arthurian legend. It was a well-structured organization and its purpose was to reach boys at a time when the club idea loomed big in a boy’s mind. It’s goal was to interpret religion to boys in the forms of recreation and other interests.

Twelve years later, to aid in that goal, Dennen established a camp in rural Maine called Camp O-ATKA. Today, 113 years later, Camp O-AT-KA continues to flourish and is the oldest continuously-run residential summer camp for boys in the United States. It is located in Sebago, ME. 

This notebook measures 8.0x5.0 inches and contains 122 pages. The notebook is about 80% complete. The covers are in very good condition and the spine is wire-coil bound. The pages are in good condition and the writing is legible.

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