Foldered & Finished: Ethel Lorraine Webb Small Papers, 1960-1980

The Ethel Lorraine Webb Small Papers, 1960-1980, are now processed and ready for researchers.

The Small papers contain twenty spiral notebooks, eight envelopes, and loose papers, used by Mrs. Small in the study and preparation for Bible classes. The finding aid for this 1.0 foot linear collection is now available here.

Notebook of Old Testament Lessons, Ethel Lorraine Webb Small Papers, 1960-1980. Center for Restoration Studies MS #482. Milliken Special Collections, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Ethel Lorraine Webb Small Papers, 1960-1980, Center for Restoration Studies MS #482.

This Just In: The William Douglass and Charline F. Gunselman Papers Now Open for Research

Brady Cox is a graduate student who is completing an MA in church history. He has worked in Special Collections since January 2016. He joins us today to talk about a collection he recently processed.

We have recently organized and completed a finding aid for the William Douglass & Charline F. Gunselman Papers. This collection represents the activities of the Gunselman family while they served as missionaries in Manila, Philippines (1964-1972). This collection includes Gunselman’s correspondence with American churches and financial supporters, Filipino church leaders, and other missionaries in the Philippines and Southeast Asia (1962-1972). There are meeting minutes, financial information, and student records from the Philippine Bible College in Quezon City (1965-1972). The collection additionally includes surveys, research, and edited drafts of materials for Gunselman’s Ed.D. dissertation, “Status of the Ten Evangelical Bible Colleges in the Philippines with a Proposed Program for their Improvement,” which he received from Manuel L. Quezon University (1971).

Before becoming a missionary, William Douglass Gunselman taught in Florida and Pennsylvania and worked with churches in Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. While in the Philippines, Gunselman was instrumental in leading the educational efforts of the Churches of Christ in Manila. He started the Philippine Bible College of Quezon City and served as its director from 1965-1971. The school sought to train Filipino preachers and church leaders. The Gunselman’s efforts to train Filipino preachers occurred during the peak of postwar missionary activity among Churches of Christ. While their efforts with the school were not particularly unique among other Churches of Christ missionary endeavors, this collection provides archival evidence of a phenomenon (i.e., the creation and use of schools to train ministers) that occurred among Churches of Christ missionary efforts which has been noted, but has not been thoroughly researched.

Student leading singing while Gunselman (right) observes. William Douglass & Charline F. Gunselman Papers, 1942-2009, MS #389, Box 6, Folder 21, Center for Restoration Studies, Abilene Christian University.

There are also materials related to the Churches of Christ in Florida from when the Gunselmans lived in Florida before moving to the Philippines. Gunselman was involved with the Central Florida Bible Camp and he worked at the Christian Home and Bible School (Mount Dora, Florida). He compiled information for and produced a directory of the Churches of Christ in Florida in 1962. The directory includes a list of churches and a list of preachers, and this master copy includes Gunselman’s notes. The Gunselmans received much of their financial support from churches in Florida (including Concord Street Church of Christ and Sanford Church of Christ), and Gunselman often corresponded with friends and church leaders in Florida. Therefore, there is a significant amount of correspondence with church leaders in Florida.

This collection provides unique insight into Churches of Christ mission work in the Philippines following World War II, offers Filipino perspectives and voices through letters sent to Gunselman by church leaders and students, and includes research concerning Protestant Bible colleges in the Philippines. The Florida materials are intriguing as well, and provide a look into the context of the Florida churches during the 1960s and early 1970s.

For more information, please contact Special Collections Librarian and Archivist, Mac Ice, at mac.ice@acu.edu.

 

Traveling Preacher: The George Washington Varner Papers

George Washington Varner

George Washington Varner

Special Collections is proud to add another collection to its store of historical material. Descendants of pioneering preacher George Washington (G.W.) Varner generously donated remnants of Varner’s business and ministry career. After marrying Angela Virginia Daniel, Varner settled in Pleasant’s County, West Virginia. They successfully operated a farm in Cloverdale for many years where the Cloverdale Church of Christ was eventually planted. George and Angela Varner were both instrumental to the congregation’s organization. G.W. Varner also acted as a traveling evangelist in the Ohio River Valley.  The collection includes letters written in the back of Varner’s small ledger books.  Of special note within this collection are several letters of recommendation written by church members on his behalf endorsing him and his ministry.

These letters were used to certify the credibility of traveling preachers as good standing members of Christian communities, with well behaved families, and commendable oratorical skills. Often brief biographies were included in the letters detailing the burgeoning call to ministry seen in the preacher at a young age. They attested to his knowledge of Scripture as it was assumed that he closely studied the Bible. At the time rural preachers usually didn’t have formal education so these letters served as their means of establishing themselves in new communities. See below for two typical letters of recommendation used by George Varner, along with the transcriptions of the letters.

Letter of Recommendation for G.W. Varner written by one of the Elders of the Cloverdale congregation.

Letter of Recommendation for G.W. Varner written by one of the Elders of the Cloverdale, West Virginia congregation.

Transcription for Letter of Recommendation (1890)

Letter of Recommendation for G.W. Varner written by Elder A.W. Garrett.

Letter of Recommendation for G.W. Varner written by Elder A.W. Garrett.

Transcription for Letter of Recommendation (1892)

An interesting specimen found within this collection is a Letter of Recommendation for both George Varner and his wife, Angela Virginia Varner. When families moved from town to town they would usually transfer their membership from their previous congregation to another with the help of these letters of recommendation, written and signed by elders or deacons.This particular letter however is signed by the entire congregation, women included. It is possible that the Varners were moving to another area or that Angela traveled with G.W. at times.

Letter of Recommendation for both G.W. Varner and A.V. Varner signed by the entire congregation.

Letter of Recommendation for both G.W. Varner and A.V. Varner signed by the entire congregation.

Transcription for Letter of Recommendation (1883)

Another interest piece from this collection is a small ledger book Varner used as an all-purpose notebook. In this particular ledger one will find lists of business transactions (pages used as a check book) and payments made, letters of recommendation for Varner, and also Varner’s own scribbles. These personal notes seem to be sermon notes, devotional notes, or study notes Varner made while reading Scripture.

Small ledger book used by G.W. Varner as a check book and notebook for personal notes and letters of recommendation.

Small ledger book used by G.W. Varner as a check book and notebook for personal notes and letters of recommendation.

The Varner Papers are processed and available for research.  Please contact us to schedule an appointment to view them in person, or review the finding aid and we can arrange for electronic document delivery.

Finding aid for George Washington Varner Papers, Center for Restoration Studies Manuscript # 295, is available in PDF and MS Word formats:

PDF: ACU_FindingAid_GeorgeWashingtonVarnerPapers_MS#295

MS Word: ACU_FindingAids_GeorgeWashingtonVarnerPapers_MS#295