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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 542

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. Northeast Region. Records, 1926-2012.


This collection contains the records of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), Northeast Region and related organizations. The records span 1926-2012.


  • Creation: 1926-2012


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.


15 linear feet (15 boxes)

The bulk of this collection consists of the records of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), Northeast Region, including material on the national ACPE and pre-ACPE organizations, the Council for Clinical Training and the Institute for Pastoral Care. There is also material on related CPE organizations, writings of individuals associated with ACPE, clippings, and photographs. The collection includes accreditation and self-study reports which are completed by centers and hospitals seeking accreditation. These reports include information on various centers in the northeast region and their CPE programs. These records are arranged alphabetically, first by state, then by center name. The ACPE-related organizations include the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, the American Protestant Hospital Association, and the Massachusetts Council of Churches. The writings by individuals associated with ACPE are arranged alphabetically, and include writings by John Billinsky, Austin Philip Guiles, John I. Smith, and Anton Boisen, including several editions of Boisen's Hymns of Hope and Courage. The collection also contains photographs of Worcester State Hospital, and prominent CPE figures such as Boisen and Smith.

Biographical / Historical

The clinical pastoral education movement (CPE) started in the mid-1920s when the Rev. Anton T. Boisen, a Presbyterian minister and former mental patient, became the hospital chaplain at the Worcester State Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Boisen believed that certain types of schizophrenia could be understood as attempts to solve problems of the soul, and he felt called to "break down the dividing wall between religion and medicine." He believed it was important to give theological students hands-on training within a hospital setting to learn how to minister to patients who were experiencing a crisis in their lives. He developed a method of training that became known as the case study method, and this remains the standard method employed in CPE training. The first clinical pastoral education program was created at Worcester State Hospital, where Boisen was employed as chaplain, with the support of Richard Cabot, MD, a medical reformer with an interest in clinical and humanistic ethics. The program led to the formations of the Council of Clinical Training for Theological Students (1938), under the direction of Boisen and Helen Dunbar Flanders, a former student of Boisen's; and the Institute of Pastoral Care (1944) under the leadership of Cabot, Austin Philip Guiles, and Russell Dicks.

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) was formed in 1967 through the merging of the Institute of Pastoral Care, Council of Clinical Training (formerly known as the Council for Clinical Training of Theological Students), the Association of Clinical Pastoral Educators (formerly known as the Southern Baptist Association for Clinical Pastoral Education) and the Department of Institutional Chaplaincy and Clinical Pastoral Education - Lutheran Council. The present-day Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc., describes itself as "a multicultural, multifaith organization devoted to providing education and improving the quality of ministry and pastoral care offered by spiritual caregivers of all faiths through the clinical educational methods of Clinical Pastoral Education." One of nine regions, the Northeast Region includes Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Each region is managed by the Board of Representatives, and regional and national conferences are held annually.


Organized into the following series:

  1. Series I. Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), Northeast Region, general records
  2. Series II. Northeast Region accreditation records
  3. Series III. Northeast and Central Region CPE programs and schools
  4. Series IV. ACPE national records
  5. Series V. Institute of Pastoral Care and Council of Clinical Training
  6. Series VI. Related organizations, conferences, and seminars
  7. Series VII. Writings of individuals associated with ACPE
  8. Series VIII. Clippings and photographs
  9. Series IX. Unidentified material
  10. Series X. Audiovisual material
  11. Series XI. Printed material

Acquisition Information

Records were donated by the Northeast Region of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education in several installments.

Related Materials

For related collections, please see bMS 688, the papers of Austin Philip Guiles; bMS 690, the papers of John Billinsky; and bMS 694, the papers of John I. Smith. There is an extensive collection of the records of the ACPE in the Pitts Theology Library in the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

General note

Note: Boxes 12 and 13 are arranged in Series V, immediately following box 8.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jessica Suarez in 2007.

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. Northeast Region. Records, 1926-2013: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Divinity School Library, Harvard University Repository

Special Collections at Harvard Divinity School Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies. Known as Andover-Harvard Theological Library since 1911, it was renamed the Harvard Divinity School Library in 2021.

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