Rockefeller Archive Center

Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports are created by recipients of research travel stipends and by many others who have conducted research at the RAC. The reports demonstrate the breadth of the RAC's archival holdings, particularly in the study of philanthropy and its effects. Read more about the history of philanthropy at Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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The Interchurch World Movement and the Scientific Survey of American Religious Architecture, 1919-1924

January 1, 2010

The failures and shortcomings of the Interchurch World Movement of North America (IWM) of 1919-1920 are well documented, and historians Eldon Ernst, Charles Harvey, and Albert Schenkel have done much to reevaluate its legacy and to explore John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s (JDR Jr.) guiding role in this ambitious experiment into interdenominational cooperative action. However, there is one positive and lasting contribution of the IWM which has generally escaped notice: the special architectural work conducted within the IWM's American Religious Education Survey Department (ARESD). In 1919, the ARESD devised detailed architectural standards for American Protestant churches and Sunday schools in connection with its survey activities, and these were published by the Interchurch Press in 1920 as Standards for City Church Plants. This was the first set of interdenominational church-building standards ever produced, and a unique accompanying score card permitted the survey and rating of the effectiveness of existing church facilities.

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