RG 123: Records of the Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ [UCC], 1908-2003

Collection Number
RG 123
The Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ is a diverse religious community. It was founded in 1912 by a group of residents living in the Vanderwerken area of Arlington who wanted to form a congregational church. It is a church, according to its website, “united in Christian covenant to see the will of God as revealed in scripture, in tradition, and in Jesus Christ,” and where every member has a say and all decisions are reached by consensus.

This inclusive and egalitarian organization became involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in its association with the Arlington Council on Human Relations. Consisting of a broad spectrum of people and which included many members of Rock Spring Congregational, the Arlington Council on Human Relations was formed in 1958 in order to improve the economic, civic, and racial conditions in Arlington County. Affiliated with the Virginia Council on Human Relations and coordinating with other local, regional, and national agencies and organizations, it sought to promote better understanding and communication while trying to lessen tensions between the different groups living and working within Arlington County’s borders.
Scope and Content
RG 123 has a mix of both textual and visual materials. The textual materials consist mainly of administrative records, such as correspondence, meeting minutes, mailing lists, financial records and announcements. The visual items include negatives (both glass plate and film) and lantern slides. The collection is a total of 3.5 linear feet. Overall, the materials range in date between 1908 and 2003; the textual records cover the late 1950s through 2003 (the bulk of the items stop in 1992) while the visual items span 1908 through 1948.

The collection contains information relating to the Rock Spring Congregational Church. The textual materials deal mostly with the Church’s involvement with the Arlington Council on Human Relations. The negatives and slides, on the other hand, show images of the Church building and members of the Church as well as scenes from the Washington, D.C., area – scenic landscapes, historical monuments and structures, individual houses, canals, rivers, boats, bridges and roads. Also included are scenes from outside the immediate area, such as New York City, the Blue Ridge Mountain Range, and CB&Q (Chicago, Burlington and Quincy) Railroad construction.

Subgroup 3 consists of the Church newsletter, dating from July of 1959 to August of 1992. There are gaps in the newsletters between July of 1964 and January of 1976 and between January of 1976 and January of 1978, as well as the occasional newsletter within the larger runs. Each newsletter shows daily Church activity and its involvement in a variety of human rights movements. The newsletters have a wealth of information on the daily life of the Church, ranging from the Church budget, to charitable activities of the Church, to Church picnics and lectures on topics ranging from church-state relations to Liberation Theology. They also give great insight into the Church’s activities in the area of human rights by describing their involvement in the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s, the arms control movement in the 1970s and the movement to end apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s.
Arrangement and Description
RG 123 is divided into three subgroups. Subgroup 1, Records of Rock Spring Congregational Church/Arlington Council on Human Relations, is subdivided into three series: Administrative, Report and Miscellaneous. Series 1, Administrative Records, is further subdivided into eight subseries according to type of material. Each subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subgroup 2, Visual Records, is divided into sixteen series according to subject. Images listed within each subject are organized numerically according to a previously assigned image number, which can be found in LIST 1. [**See note below] The format of the image is also indicated: G* denotes glass plate negatives; F* stands for film negatives; L* signifies lantern slides. Boxes holding Subgroup 2 come after boxes holding the paper materials in Subgroups 1 and 3. Because of this placement, the lists of images in this finding aid follow the file listings for the boxes of paper documents.

**Please note that the visual materials in Subgroup 2 are housed in five boxes, but physically arranged according to image number, regardless of subject area. For box location, a second list is provided as a cross-reference for the user. LIST 2 is organized numerically by image number across the five boxes.

The newsletters for the Rock Spring Congregational Church (Subgroup 3) are chronologically ordered. The materials are contained in twenty-one files, with each file containing about eight months to eleven months’ worth of newsletters. There is one file which contains miscellaneous material including such items as envelopes for collecting donations and information for Church services such as bible readings and musical selections.
Charlene N. Bickford, for Rock Spring Congregation UCC, donated the materials in Subgroups 1 and 2 in July 2001. Caroline Westhaeffer donated the newsletters in Subgroup 3 in December 2004 and November 2006.
There are no restrictions regarding the use of this collection.
Related Collections
Other collections regarding Arlington Churches are RG 6, Arlington County Churches, RG 328, Lomax AME Zion Church Records, RG 342, Arlington Baptist Church Records, RG 358, Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church Records, RG 366, Bethel United Church of Christ Records, RG 375, Arlington Presbyterian Church Records, and RG 378, Mt. Salvation Baptist Church Records.

Collections with more information on civil rights groups in Arlington can see RG 18, Personal Papers of Barbara Marx, and RG 97, Church Women United Records.

More about the Rock Spring neighborhood can be found in RG 129, Rock Spring Civic Association Records, and RG 177, Rock Spring Garden Club Records.


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