The African Orthodox Church of Africa was founded in South Africa in 1924 by priests from the independent African Church. These priests were dissatisfied with the administration of the African Church and believed that they could establish and run an independent church for Black Christians that would be more responsive to their own needs and to the needs of their parishioners.
One of the priests in this group was Daniel William Alexander whose leadership abilities were recognized by the others. At the very same meeting in which the priests decided to resign from the African Church and to form their own independent church, they also elected Alexander to the position of bishop.
The archives of the African Orthodox Church (1880-1974) can also be considered the papers of Archbishop Daniel William Alexander. Practically all of the correspondence was either sent or received by Alexander and a large amount of the other manuscript material is in his handwriting. For fifty-one years the African Orthodox Church was at the center of Alexander’s life. His wives headed the women’s guild, his son and grandson were priests in the Church and many of the organizations that he belonged to were church-related.
In spite of this, an effort has been made to separate the things that document the life of Alexander, such as family records, diaries, newspaper clippings and memorabilia, from the things that document the history of the church. Researchers will find that there are many “gray area” items such as Vilatte’s memorandum of congratulations and the travelogue recounting Alexander’s trip to the United States for consecration. Because of items such as these, the personal papers of Alexander have been treated as a part of the Church’s archives and not as a separate collection.
The archival records, at the Archives and Manuscripts Department of Pitts Theology Library at Emory University, have been divided into thirteen series:
- These are Personal Papers of Daniel William Alexander;
- Constitution and Divine Liturgy;
- Synod Records;
- Educational Records;
- Clergy Records;
- Local Church Records;
- Baptism and Marriage Records;
- Financial Records;
- Miscellaneous Material;
- Bound Printed Material; and
- Unbound Printed Material
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