Last week the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) hosted a roundtable discussion about the Community School of Tehran. The session was led by Dr. Matthew Shannon, Associate Professor of History at Emory & Henry College and Principal Investigator of the Community School Oral History Project.

The Community School of Tehran was a Presbyterian mission institution whose internationalist ethos influenced multiple generations of English-speaking students between 1935 and 1980.

Former students from Community School — whose alumni base now spans the globe — shared their memories of the school and pre-revolutionary Iran while PHS archivists discussed collections related to the school and Presbyterian mission to Iran.

PHS is partnering with Shannon, a research fellow at the Baskerville Institute, for the new Community School Oral History Project, which explores the school’s history through interviews with former students, faculty and staff from around the world.

With support from PHS, Baskerville Institute and Emory & Henry College, Shannon will conduct interviews in person and remotely. The recordings and their transcriptions will be preserved and made freely available through Pearl Digital Collections, PHS’s digital archive. You can view the Tehran Community School collection currently in Pearl here.

PHS Director of Programs and Services Natalie Shilstut is looking forward to the collaboration.

Tehran Community School, 1940. From Pearl.

Tehran Community School, 1940. From Pearl.

“PHS is thrilled to partner with Matthew Shannon and the Baskerville Institute to preserve and provide access to the oral histories created as part of the project,” Shilstut said. “The diverse scope of the planned interviews will complement the society’s existing collections, which focus primarily on the Presbyterian church’s administrative work in Iran, by filling the gap in representation of the student and faculty experience at Community School.”

The interviews and digital collection will preserve memories of the school, add alumni voices to the record and contribute to the history of Presbyterian missions, international education and U.S.-Iran relations.

Persons interested in scheduling an oral history interview about Tehran Community School should email Matthew Shannon:

This article is drawn from two blogs on