Charles and Margaret Lawrence Papers Now Available for Research

The Archives of the Episcopal Church is pleased to announce that the papers of Dr. Charles Radford Lawrence II and Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence are now open for research by appointment.

Charles Lawrence was the 27th President of the House of Deputies, serving from 1976 to 1985. He holds the distinction of being the first and only African American elected to this position. In his secular work, Lawrence was a distinguished professor of sociology.

The papers span a crucial period of turmoil and challenge in The Episcopal Church. They provide an important perspective on the radical adjustments in the institutional life of the Church during that era, and also of the remarkable influence of lay leadership, the voice of an influential scholar, and the practical experience and know-how of a church leader.

Lawrence served as a member of a number of General Convention committees, commissions, and boards. His most influential appointment was as Chairman of the House of Deputies Special Committee on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood and Episcopate. He also served on the Executive Council's Special Advisory Committee on Church in Society, which he co-chaired with Bishop Paul Moore, Jr. Lawrence was a staunch advocate for women's ordination and included among his papers are source materials relating to the subject.

In addition, the collection includes aspects of Lawrence's long career as a professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, where he taught from 1948 until his retirement in 1977. 

Both Lawrence and his wife, psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Lawrence, were influential in the study of race in America. Margaret's work centered on the long-term effects of racism on the health of black families, particularly children. Journals and writings on these and other academic topics constitute part of the Lawrence papers. Drafts of Charles Lawrence's masters and doctoral theses, as well as notes from course-work, round out this record of his academic life.

The 14 cubic foot collection was donated by Charles’s wife Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence and their three children, Dr. Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, Dr. Charles R. Lawrence III, and the Reverend Paula Lawrence-Wehmiller.