Arthur Carl Piepkorn was born at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 21, 1907. Dr. Piepkorn graduated from Concordia College, Milwaukee, in 1925 and from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928. He earned a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1932 with a specialty in Babylonian archeology.
He was ordained at Bethany Church, Milwaukee, on November 30, 1930, by the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (LCMS), serving pastorates in St. Louis (1930-1931, 1937), Chisholm, Minnesota (1933-1936), and Cleveland, Ohio (1937-1942). From 1940-1951 he served as a chaplain in the United States Army. He retired on July 1, 1967, having received thirteen medals and decorations during his service.
In 1951 he returned to Concordia Seminary as professor of systematic theology, a position which he held until his death in 1973. In addition to systematic theology, Piepkorn had expertise in the symbolic books of the Lutheran Church, liturgical studies and practices, Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue, and medieval and Reformation paleography. He translated the Formula of Concord for the Tappert edition of the Book of Concord.
Involved in the controversy at Concordia Seminary during the early to mid-1970s, Piepkorn joined with the faculty majority in signing of protests to Resolutions 3-01 and 3-09 of the LCMS' New Orleans convention. He was subsequently promoted to a non-teaching administrative position and offered "honorable retirement" at age 65, which he refused.
In demand as a preacher and lecturer, Dr. Piepkorn's writings include massive numbers of manuscripts based on his research in the many areas of his expertise and sermons for every Sunday of the year and myriad special occasions. His magnum opus, in process at the time of his death, was Profiles in belief : the religious bodies of the United States and Canada. To honor Piepkorn's scholarship, an annual prize competition was established at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
This collection is divided into two series of papers, personal papers and faculty papers, although there is significant overlap between the contents of each series. The personal papers include family history and genealogy, correspondence, memorials eulogizing Piepkorn, sermons and radio scripts, book reviews, essays and lectures, newspaper clippings, and more. The faculty papers include manuscripts, correspondence, Army records, and sermons. The collection also contains various audio-visual materials.