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John and Mary Harrell Collection
GTU 90-3-01  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Materials Cataloged Separately

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John and Mary Harrell Collection
    Dates: 1865-1995
    Bulk Dates: (Bulk dates 1920-1990)
    Collection number: GTU 90-3-01
    Creator: Harrell, John
    Collector: Church Divinity School of the Pacific
    Collection Size: 31 boxes, 6 folios

    20 linear ft.
    Repository: The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
    Berkeley, CA 94709
    Abstract: This collection includes personal papers, working production files, photographs, slides, audio tapes, tapestries, drawings, oil paintings, watercolor paintings
    Shelf locations: 1/A/3; 2/D/1-2/D/4; 4/A/1; 4/B/5-6; 4/C/1; Range 2/3
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    John and Mary Harrell Collection, GTU 90-3-01. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of John Harrell, 1990. Additional material given by Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA. in 1997


    John Harrell (1922-1996) was born May 24, 1922 in Hollywood, CA. He graduated from Church Divinity School of the Pacific and was ordained into the Episcopal diaconate in 1947. Ordination as a priest followed in February 1948. John served as the curate at St. Luke's, Monrovia, CA 1947-48, then as Director of Religious Education, St. James, Los Angeles, 1948-52. From 1952-54, he was on the staff of Rampart Productions, then from 1954-57 was a consultant for Cathedral Films. John was, 1957-62, the Executive Director of the Division of Audio/Visual Education, Department of Christian Education, for the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church in New York. He and Mary Pyburn were married June 6, 1959 at St. Francis' Church, Stamford, CT.
    Mary Jane Pyburn (1913 - 1985) was born September 21, 1913 in Salem, MA. Having begun a business course at Burdett College, she had to stop when a sister contracted polio. She went to work at a Woolworth Store to help with the medical expenses. She was always active in the Episcopal church in Sunday School and youth activities. When her sisters were older, Mary returned to school. After a year's course at St. Faith's School, St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York, she transferred to and completed the course at Philadelphia Divinity School in Pennsylvania. She then served as Director of Religious Education at the Church of the Ascension in Cleveland, OH for ten years. In 1956, she became editor of pre-school materials for the Department of Christian Education, National Council of the Episcopal Church.
    John and Mary Harrell moved to Berkeley, CA in 1962 to begin independent production of audiovisual materials. Their production company was named York House since they lived at 148 York in Kensington, California. In an interview with Church Resource Systems Update, Summer 1982, the Harrells spoke of their work: "Christian education resources should contain 'theological guts, strong education value, and artistic integrity,' states Episcopalian John Harrell, producer of films, film-strips, and written resources. He and his wife Mary started producing resources for parish use in 1962 because 'we were dissatisfied with the quality of audiovisuals available in the market then.' The Harrells controlled every step in their productions. 'We are the writers, the producers; I even compose some of the music. . . . We are fortunate as a small organization to have our hands at every level and to maintain quality control.' . . . Harrell also believes an independent publisher can be more daringly creative, . . . tackling subjects . . . 'that involve a risk, a gamble -- and creativity.'"

    (see biographies, Box 1 ff 1)
    John Harrell was a creative person. He was active throughout his life and career not only as a producer and publisher of audio-visual materials, but also as a poet, composer, musician, storyteller, and artist, particularly in drawing and sculpture. His creative projects were used both for the work of his York House publications, and for his private use either in his home or for his friends.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection came to the GTU Archives in two sections. The first section came in 1990 from John Harrell. It consisted of production files and materials concerning Harrell productions and publications. These are contained in Boxes 1-20. The second section came in 1997 from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA, John Harrell's beneficiary. This section consisted of personal papers, photographs, music, and art. These are contained in Boxes 21-31 and Folios 1-6.
    There are eight Series in the collection: Production Files, Personal Papers, Ministry Files, Art, Photographs: Personal and Ministry, Music by John Harrell, Slides, Negatives.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Religious education--Audio-visual aids
    Filmstrips in religious education
    Storytelling--Religious aspects
    Art and religion--California
    Music--Religious aspects
    Poetry--20th Century
    Lambert, J. K.
    Geritz, Franz
    Caswell, Edward C.
    Crite, Allan Rohan
    Remick, Doris
    Saroyan, William
    Summitt, Kathleen
    Wah, Yeo Hock
    Wilhelm, Robert Bela
    Ruffner, Howard E.
    Burrows, Larry
    Sherman, Rowland
    Hayama, Hiroshi
    Mydans, Carl

    Materials Cataloged Separately

    • Christ is Risen: A Resurrection Celebration for Children; BT481 .C4 Size 9
    • Communicating the Gospel Today; BV1534 .H3 Size 2
    • Daybreak: A Performance Piece for Reader and Musician; PS3515 .A76 D3 1977 Size 2
    • Definition of Passion; BT431 .D4 Size 9
    • The Fire and the Wind; BT121.2 .H35 Size 9
    • Hello in Exile: A Poem; PS3515 .A76 H44 Size 3
    • Hello in Exile: A Poem; PS3515 .A76 H44 1965b Size 3
    • The Joseph Saga; BS580 .J6 H3
    • Living the Christian Year; PS3515 .A76 L58
    • Lord, Come; BT202 .H283 Size 9
    • The Man on a Dolphin: The Storyteller and His Tales: GR74 .H368 1983
    • Origins and Early Traditions of Storytelling; GR74 .H37 1983
    • Showings; PS3515 .A76 S46
    • A Storyteller's Omnibus; GR76 .H37 1985
    • A Storyteller's Treasury; GR76 .S76
    • Teaching is Communicating: An Audio-Visual Handbook for Church Use; BV1535 .H3
    • To Tell of Gideon: The Art of Storytelling in the Church; LB1042 .H37
    • Ways of the Spirit; PS3515 .A76 W38