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Testament written 3 June 1936 by John Baillie (1886-1960), Professor of Divinity, in favour of Ursula Mary Niebuhr (1907-1997)

Identifier: Coll-1378

Scope and Contents

The manuscript testimonial (2-sided letter) dated 3 June 1936 and signed by Professor John Baillie was found alongside some more recent photocopies of other material in a book (unnamed in a lot of 19 titles) purchased by Edinburgh University Library. The testimonial talks of Mrs. Niebuhr's maturity of scholarship, the 'soundness of her judgement' and 'the quick intuitive character of her mind'. The other photocopies are: 1 letter from John Baillie to 'My dear Bishop' dated 29 May 1939, in which Baillie writes that it is 'very easy for me to write to you about Andrew Young as I have known and admired him ever since student days'; 2 copies of a quote noting 'A. Young'; and, clipping form the 'Telegraph' undated.


  • Creation: 1936-2012


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Ursula Mary Keppel-Compton was born in Southampton, England, in 1907. She was a graduate of Oxford University, St. Hugh's College, and became the first woman to win a fellowship to the Union Theological Seminary in New York from which she graduated as Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.). In 1931 she married the American theologian Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). They made New York City their home. During the 1930s she was a lay minister preaching in Anglican churches and in this capacity she raised questions about the the role of women in the church. From 1940, and first as a lecturer, she was a member of the Barnard College faculty for some 20 years. She retired in the 1960s and died on 10 January 1997.

John Baillie was born in 1886. He was educated at Inverness Royal Academy and the University of Edinburgh. More study was undertaken at both the universities of Jena and Marburg and he held assistant positions at the University of Edinburgh before entering the church, as an assistant in 1912 and then being ordained in 1920. The First World War saw Baillie playing an active role in both the YMCA and the British Expeditionary Force, then an academic career followed. He held a number of chairs at the Auburn and Union Theological Seminaries, New York, and at Emmanuel College, Toronto, but he eventually returned to Edinburgh to become Professor of Divinity at New College in 1934. The advent of the Second World War saw Baillie use the North American links he had maintained to help persuade US entry into the conflict. He was elected as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and became Dean of the Faculty of Divinity at Edinburgh in 1950, holding this position until retiral six years later. As part of the ecumenical movement, John Baillie was member of both the British Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, becoming a President of the latter. He died in 1960.


1 folder

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired through purchase. Accession no: E2012.12.

Related Materials

Also held at Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library, are the 'Papers of Professor John Baillie, and Baillie Family Papers', Ref. code: BAI.

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.

Catalogued by Graeme Eddie 06 December 2012

Testimonial letter written 3 June 1936 by John Baillie (1886-1960), Professor of Divinity, in favour of Ursula Mary Niebuhr (1907-1997)
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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