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St. Philip's Episcopal Church records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0269

Scope and Contents

This collection contains ledgers and documents from St. Philip's Episcopal Church documenting church history and vital records from the congregation including baptisms, confirmations, communicants, marriages, and burials.


  • circa 1861-2018


Terms of Access and Use

The St. Philip's Episcopal Church records are open to researchers.

Terms of Access and Use

Materials in this collection are undergoing conservation treatment and are being digitized. During this process, some items may be temporarily unavailable. Please contact the University Archives in advance if you would like to view materials from this collection: 716-645-2916 or


Copyright is held by The State University of New York at Buffalo. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church’s history begins a year before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1861 under the leadership of a white clergyman, Reverend Witherspoon. In the year 1865 the first Black full-time rector, Reverend Samuel L. Berry led the St. Philip's congregation until 1876, establishing the church as a home for Black Protestant Episcopalians to experience church through their African roots. The Reverend Edmund Bennett (1916-1923) served as rector through a troubling time within the community and a relocation from Elm Street, between North and South Division to Goodell Street, which lasted until 1974. Father Osmond Brown’s leadership at St. Philip's preceded and outlived the Great Depression from the year 1923 until 1956. Despite this tumultuous period in the United States history, Father Brown’s legacy remains imprinted on the St. Philip's collection. In 1957 Father Kenneth Curry (1957-1973) succeeded Father Brown, followed by Reverend E. Don Taylor who served as rector from 1973 until 1979. Under the tutelage of Reverend E. Don Taylor, the church moved to its present location at 22 Sussex Street in 1974. He also developed the St. Philip's School of Music and Boys choir, along with other outreach programs for the surrounding community. The Reverend Walter Bryan (1979-1981) would continue such community organizations along with a food pantry that remains in use today. He was followed by the Reverend James Manning (1982 –1987). Known for his ministry to the sick and bereaved, The Reverend Julius Jackson incited African American hymns to become a staple within weekly worship. He was succeeded by the Reverend D. Antonio Martin (1998-2001). The church, its community center, and food pantry continue to be in operation today under the guidance of Pastor Stephen Lane.


20.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The St. Philip’s Episcopal Church records comprise materials documenting church history and vital records from the congregation, primarily in the form of bound volumes of vestry meeting minutes, records of service, and parish registers. Founded in 1861, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church is a historically Black church that continues operation today.


The materials within this collection are arranged in chronological order of rector beginning in 1861 and continuing through present day. Materials within each series begin in chronological order, with some overlap, depending on the end date of a given file.

Custodial History

In July 2021, Dr. Lillian Williams, professor in the Department of Africana and American Studies and former chair of the Department of African American Studies, approached the University Archives about the records of St. Philip's Episcopal Church. In the late 1970s, Dr. Williams, as part of the Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier, worked to have these records microfilmed, and the film was deposited at Buffalo State College. Copies of the microfilm are housed at the North Jefferson Branch Library, the Buffalo State College Archives, and the Monroe Fordham Regional History Center, Buffalo State College. The original materials were returned to at the church.

The Interim Co-University Archivists, Sarah Cogley and Marie Elia, met with Dr. Williams and Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold, co-founder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research & Education on Women, in summer 2021. By this point, 40 years after microfilming, the materials were fragile, and Dr. Nevergold was concerned for their physical preservation. As a member of the congregation and historian of Buffalo’s Black churches, she had used the records and had first-hand knowledge of their condition. She connected the Interim Co-University Archivists with Pastor Steve Lane, who expressed support in donating the records to the University Archives.

The Interim Co-University Archivists met with Pastor Steve Lane, Dr. Nevergold, and Josephine Cross, a warden of the church, at the University Archives in September 2021. University Archives proposed a plan for the stewardship of the church records, including accelerated processing and digitization timelines. University Archives also committed to hiring a UB student, with Dr. Williams’ recommendation, to work on the collection as a paid, experiential learning opportunity under the guidance of the Interim Co-University Archivists.

The records were donated in November 2021. A PhD student, BreAnna Rice, was hired in summer 2022 and completed processing in July 2022.

Acquisition Information

The St. Philip's Episcopal Church records were donated to University Archives by Pastor Stephen Lane in January, 2022, as accession 2022-001.

Accruals and Additions

Further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

In the late 1970s, the Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier arranged to microfilm these records. The film was deposited at Buffalo State College. Copies of the microfilm are housed at the North Jefferson Branch Library, the Buffalo State College Archives, and the Monroe Fordham Regional History Center, Buffalo State College.

Processing Information

Processed and finding aid encoded by BreAnna Rice, 2022.


Finding aid for the St. Philip's Episcopal Church records
Finding aid prepared by BreAnna Rice
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)