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Allan A. Hunter papers

Identifier: 0397

Scope and Content

The materials in the Dr. Allan A. Hunter papers span the history of the Mt. Hollywood Congregational Church from pre-World War I to the 1990s. The bulk of the papers consists of records that were kept during the pastorship of Hunter from the 1920s through the 1960s, both records and ephemera from the church as well as Hunter's personal correspondence, manuscript materials, photographs, sermons, subject files, etc. Important subjects covered in photographs, news clippings, and correspondence include the church's involvement with the Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II, and the church's activities with orphans and refugees from Europe and Asia after the war.


  • 1905 - 2000


Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections 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.

Biographical Note

Allan Armstrong Hunter was born in 1893 in Toronto, Canada, the youngest of four children. He came to the United States at the age of eight, where his family first lived in Colorado before settling in Riverside, California.

Hunter received his A.B. degree from Princeton University in 1916 and then taught for two years in Egypt at Assiut Mission College. Between 1917 and 1918 he was a YMCA secretary with the British on the Sinai Desert, and then part of the Palestine unit of the Red Cross during World War I. After the Armistice, Hunter helped direct a large German orphanage in Jerusalem. He spent several years traveling and studying in India, China, Korea, and Japan-- experiences that would deepen his understanding of human values the world around and convince him of the waste and futility of war.

In 1923, Hunter married Elizabeth Sterling, the daughter of minister Dr. Hugh K. Walker. Around that same time he graduated from the Union Theological Seminary in New York and then was ordained a Presbyterian minister and became pastor of Union Church in Palisade, New Jersey. In 1925 Hunter received his A.M. from Columbia, and then spent time in China with his wife doing peace work and teaching at the National Normal University.

It was in 1926 that Hunter began a long and notable ministry at Mt. Hollywood Congregational Church in Los Angeles, succeeding Dr. Edwin P. Ryland, former president of the ACLU--Southern California branch. Through his involvement with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Disciplined Order of Christ, and his many social justice activities, he met and befriended many internationally known church leaders, humanitarians, and social activists such as Toyohiko Kagawa, Doris and Muriel Lester, Kirby Page, Norman Cousins, Linus Pauling, Richard Neutra, John Anson Ford, and Aldous Huxley.

A long-time ACLU board member, Hunter was concerned with the constitutional rights of minorities. During and after World War II, Hunter testified on behalf of the Japanese-Americans who were sent to concentration camps, visiting Manzanar often. Other topics that Hunter focussed on through his sermons, publications, and activities included world peace, marriage, birth control (having seen the effects of overpopulation in China and India), labor rights, civil liberties, etc.

Allan and Elizabeth Hunter had two children-- Betsy and Allan, Jr. Reverend Allan Hunter died in 1982, ten years after his wife Elizabeth. They are buried in Riverside, California where the Reverend's tombstone is inscribed "Christian Life Dedicated to Peace.".

Historical Background

Mt. Hollywood Congregational Church was founded in 1905, in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. In 1918, during World War I, Dr. E.P. Ryland was expelled from the First Methodist Church of Hollywood for his pacifism and became the minister at Mt. Hollywood. Setting a precedent for the pastor who would follow him, Reverend Ryland was a committed pacifist who supported workers' rights, labor strikes, and was involved in other civic issues. At its height, the church was comprised of over 600 members.

In 1926, Allan A. Hunter took over as pastor of the church, a role in which he served until his retirement in 1963. The church counted many progressive-minded civic leaders among its members, including John Anson Ford, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, after whom Ford Amphitheatre is named. In the 1930s, the church was one of the first congregations in Los Angeles to be racially integrated. Many notable people, friends of Allan Hunter, preached or spoke at Mt. Hollywood in its early days. Among the peace activists, philosophers, journalists, diplomats, and other dignitaries who graced Mt. Hollywood were Ralph Bunche, Cesar Chavez, Gerald Heard, Aldous Huxley, Toyohiko Kagawa, Muriel Lester, Carey McWilliams, and Howard Thurman among many others.

Because Allan Hunter served as the church's pastor for such a long time-- and was deeply involved in the church's mission after he retired-- the church's history is inexorably shaped by the passions and activities of the man who took his church through two world wars, the Korean War, the Viet Nam conflict, and all of the other social and political changes during those decades. During World War II when Japanese-Americans were being interned in concentration camps, Mt. Hollywood "adopted" a nearby Japanese-American congregation, Hollywood Independent Church, taking legal ownership of the church to protect and maintain its property, returning it to its congregation after the war. Some of the congregants and Allan Hunter visited the Manzanar concentration camp often during that time. In 1947, Mt. Hollywood received a box mailed from Japan, containing camphor wood from a burnt tree from the yard of a Methodist church which had been destroyed by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The cross was inscribed with "He Is Our Peace" and is still a centerpiece of the church. The church's property itself was sold in 2012 due to rising costs and a much smaller congregation of about 50 members.

The church's website can be accessed at:!.html.


30.21 Linear Feet (37 boxes)

Language of Materials



Mt. Hollywood Congregational Church, founded in 1905, is located in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Its longest-serving pastor, Allan A. Hunter, led the congregation from 1926 until his retirement in 1963, but stayed actively involved until his death almost twenty years later. This collection reflects the activities of the church throughout the twentieth century, as well as the progressive ideas and religious teachings of Reverend Hunter. His correspondence with other religious thinkers and social activists is included, as well as the manuscripts of most of his sermons throughout the years, which are also included on audiotapes. The collection presents a vivid picture of Mt. Hollywood Church as well as the man who was at the helm for so many decades.

Related Archival Materials

American Friends Service Committee Collected Records, Swarthmore College Peace Collection

The Sunday Before Collection, Graduate Theological Union Archives

Processing note

Assistance in processing this collection was provided by Antonio Gonzalez and Tiffany Chu.

Finding Aid of the Allan A. Hunter papers
Jacqueline Morin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States