Mission Journal Digitization Project

Launched in 1967, Mission Journal was a forum for theological reflection on issues such as race, gender, war and peace-making, the place of the church in urban society, the nature and implications of Restorationism and critical Biblical and historical scholarship.

Mission, Volume 1, number 1, July 1967 front cover

Bob Turner, in his preface to this oral history project, describes Mission’s character as “unique—sort of Sojourners meets Village Voice meets MAD Magazine. It was smart enough to provoke a theologian but accessible enough to put on your coffee table; classic enough to attract intellectuals in the 1960s but avante garde enough to get picked up by a college kid a generation later. It was unquestionably the literary counterculture of Church of Christ periodicals for two decades.”

His oral history compiles reflections from some of the key persons involved in Mission from its founding to its closure in 1988: Dwain Evans, Don Haymes, Richard Hughes, Victor Hunter, Warren Lewis, and Thomas Olbricht.

Olbricht provides in this essay, New Journals for the Sixties: Restoration Quarterly and Mission, an extended reflection and assessment of the impact of these journals. Drawing from his deep insider involvement in Mission and from Abe Malherbe’s in Restoration Quarterly, Olbricht situates them within the journalistic, editorial, theological and historical contexts of the 1950s-1970s Churches of Christ.

Greg McKinzie conducted an interview session at the 2017 Christian Scholars’ Conference, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN, dedicated to recording the stories of Dwain Evans, Vic Hunter, and Richard Hughes in the production of Mission Journal. Participants reflected on the motivations, hardships, and successes of publishing thoughtful, courageous content during a tumultuous time for the country and for Churches of Christ. What were the personal costs? How did the journal evolve and why? What would they do differently if they had it to do over? And what is the legacy of Mission for today? Listen here:

Digitization of Mission is underway.  Fully searchable and downloadable PDFs of every issue will be available at http://digitalcommons.acu.edu/missionjournal.  Mission on ACU DigitalCommons will contain the full run of the journal, from volume 1, number 1 issued in July 1967 to the final issue, volume 21, numbers 5-6, issued in December 1987-January 1988. This digital archive will ensure Mission is widely and easily available for historical research and continued reflection on the issues it raised and discussed.

The digitization initiative is led by Greg McKinzie, Executive Editor of Missio Dei Journal and Bob Turner, Librarian at Harding School of Theology in partnership with ACU Special Collections Librarian and Archivist Mac Ice.

For information on how you can contribute to this initiative, please see this page at Missio Dei Journal.

Here I Stand: Martin Luther’s Reformation at 500, An Exhibit Celebrating the Quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation

Here I Stand: Martin Luther’s Reformation at 500, An Exhibit Celebrating the Quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation

When Martin Luther (1483-1546) nailed to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany a document containing ninety-five complaints against prevalent practices of the Roman Catholic Church, he set a course that would dramatically alter the Christian Church for centuries.  While the Protestant Reformation did not begin only with Luther, or simply with the nailing of his Theses on 31 October 1517, the impact of Martin Luther on the course of Christian history is difficult to underestimate.  In 1521 at Worms (just south of Frankfurt, Germany), Emperor Charles V faced down Luther with the demand that he recant his reform-minded views.  Luther defiantly replied:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound.”

Some accounts of that day include these now-famous concluding words:

Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.

Whether Luther spoke these words on that day remains a subject of debate, no one disputes the tremendous effect Luther had on subsequent Christian history.  This exhibit presents select items that reflect his influence and celebrates the milestone anniversary of his decisive action.

This online exhibit showcases the physical exhibit displayed on the lower level of ACU Brown Library during the fall semester 2017.  

Left case:

“Disputation of Dr. Martin Luther concerning penitence and indulgences,” from Luther’s Primary Works Together with his Shorter and Larger Catechisms, translated into English.  Ed. Henry Wace and C. A. Buchheim (London: Hodder and Stoughton), 1896.

Commonly referred to as his “Ninety-five Theses” this disputation arises from Luther’s great personal angst and despair concerning his security before God.  Further, and specifically, it articulates his concern with clergy abuses and excesses in the sale of indulgences.  Luther charged the sale of these indulgences led the common people to believe that through “the function of a Bishop’s office can a man become sure of salvation.” Luther’s scathing rebuke in the form of 95 theses, or statements, nailed to door of Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, Germany, on 31 October 1517, built on earlier reformist impulses and movements.  However, Luther’s contribution spread quickly throughout Germany and beyond, fueling what would become one of the farthest-reaching reform movements in the history of Christianity.

John Stump, An Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism.  A Handbook for the Catechetical Class. (Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House), 1935

“Since the task of the pastor in catechization,” Stump writes, “is not only to impart religious instruction, but to impart it on the basis of that priceless heritage of our Church, Luther’s Small Catechism, the explanation here offered follows the catechism closely.  The words of the catechism are printed in heavy-faced type and are used as heading wherever possible; and this the words of the catechism may be traced as a thread running through the entire explanation.”

Designed for use in congregational class settings as well as private study, it is opened to a section describing the classic Reformation doctrine of sola fide or justification by faith alone.

Hymnals, ca. 17th c. – 1973

Besides his closely-argued and carefully-reasoned theological works, Luther composed a number of hymns which became an enduring feature of Christian worship within Lutheranism and beyond. Perhaps his most well-known hymn is ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God.’  Penned when the Lutheran reforms were in full-swing ca. 1527-1529, it draws the singer’s attention–and hope–squarely to the great work of God. It remains one of the most widely-known and used hymns across the Protestant denominational spectrum.

Luther Reed, in the off-print displayed here, says “Luther’s influence [in hymnody] cut deep, travelled far and continues to this day.”  Luther’s enduring contribution to the practice of worshipping assemblies was profound.  His revised liturgy informed the practice of worship for both Lutherans and the Reformed traditions.  It also prepared the way for the Book of Common Prayer (employed by the Church of England which in turn formed early Methodism).  He made Scripture reading accessible to the common people through his German-language translation of the Bible.  Finally, he promoted participatory congregational singing.

Displayed here is an undated hymnal (probably 17th c.) opened to Ein feste burg (A Mighty Fortress) #109, along with 20th century editions of the Lutheran Hymnal from the Austin Taylor Hymnody Collection.  The older hymnal is on loan from Special Collections Librarian McGarvey Ice. The Reed off-print is from the collection of longtime ACU music professor Jack Boyd.

Dr. Martin Luther’s Sämmtliche Werke, 1826-1845

This set of Luther’s works was owned by longtime ACU professor of languages Howard L. Schug who taught Spanish, French, and German.  After retiring in 1952 he spent several years in mission work in post-War Germany, continuing a lifetime of interest in missions. The set was published in Erlangen, Germany by Heyder & Zimmer between 1826-1845. Each book contains around 400 or more pages of closely-set type.  The six-foot shelf of books indicates the breadth and depth of Luther’s prodigious literary output:

Books 1-15. Hauspostilles and Kirchenpostiles, or commentaries in the form of homilies

Books 16-20. Vermischte Predigten, or miscellaneous sermons

Books 21-23. Katechetische deutsche Schriften, or his catechetical statements and writings

Books 24-26. Reformations-historische deutsche Schriften, or his history of the Reformation

Books 27-32. Polemische deutsche Schriften, or polemic writings

Books 33-52. Exegetische deutsche Schriften, or exegetical writings

Books 53-65. Vermischte deutsche Schriften, or his mixed writings

Books 66-67. Alphabetisches Sach-Register, or indices

Right case:

Framed color lithograph of Martin Luther, ca. 1900

With pen in hand and holding either a Bible or other book, Luther is portrayed here with readiness in his eyes.  Produced for the mass-market, lithographs such as this reflect the enduring populist interest in Luther.  Portraits such as this could have hung in universities, congregations, private schools and academies, as well as in ministers’ studies and private homes.

Bible leaf, page opening from the book of Obadiah, Martin Luther’s translation, 1603

Luther’s translation of the New Testament was published in 1521, followed by the Old Testament shortly thereafter.  Not only was it the first translation into German from the original languages, it unified the German-speaking world by its use of common, accessible, vernacular speech.  The approach proved very popular as it sold an estimated 5000 copies in the first two months after publication. The illustrated page displayed here is from a 1603 printing.  It features a woodcut by Virgil Solis (1514-1562) who placed his monogram (VS) in the lower right corner of the woodcut. Conrad Saldoerfer, the engraver, placed his monogram (CS) with an image of a knife in the lower center.

Volks-Bilderbibel, oder, Die ganze heilige Schrift des alten und neuen Testaments/nach der Uebersetzung Dr. Martin Luthers; achter Abdruck, mit 6 Stahlstichen und 532 in den Text eingedrucken Abbildungen. (Leipzig : Baumgärtners Buchhandlung), 1855

The People’s Picture Bible, or, The Entire Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testaments, from Martin Luther’s version. Published in Leipzig, 1855.

Luther’s translation proved an enduring presence well after the Reformation gained solid foothold across Europe.  This family Bible is richly illustrated with 6 steel engravings and 532 pictures printed within the text.  Displayed here is the title page to the New Testament.  This volume is held in the O. C. Lambert Collection.  A minister and author among Churches of Christ, Lambert specialized in the critical study of Roman Catholicism.

Carte de viste, 1867

This carte de viste (or visiting card) photograph captures a preacher in his pulpit on the 350th anniversary of the Reformation in 1867.  The high pulpit, flanked by staircases, is decked in garland.  The preacher stands with an open Bible on the stand in front of him; Bibles or hymnals flank him at the pulpit with others on the table below.  The banner on the wall behind and above him reads “GOTTES WORT UND LUTHER’S LEHR VERGENT NUN UND NIMMERMEHR” (God’s Word and Luther’s teaching, endure now and ever more).  Visiting cards were popular, affordable and widely used.  This CDV was published in Belvidere, New Jersey by Peter D. Ketchledge.  On loan from Special Collections Librarian McGarvey Ice.

Assorted biographical studies of Martin Luther, 1883-2017

A Worldcat.org keyword search for ‘Martin Luther’ will return upwards of 210,000 items in over 100 languages.  Displayed here are selected biographical studies of Luther’s life and work.  These items held by Special Collections are from the private libraries of long-time ACU professors Howard L. Schug and LeMoine G. Lewis.  The newest biographical study, Dyron Daughrity’s Martin Luther, A Biography for the People was published in September 2017 by ACU Press.

Interested in more?  A rich array of stunning Reformation artifacts, artwork, and documents is available online at here-i-stand.com

Archives and archiving: What is ‘processing’?

With this post I launch an occasional series of reflections about what we do and how we do it.  I’ll title these posts ‘Archives and Archiving’ and will from time to time write about how an archive operates.  The inaugural installment is…processing.  Processing collections is at the very heart of an archive.

‘Archival processing’ is a set of actions performed on a collection in order to gain intellectual and physical control of the objects and the information they contain.  Here’s a good textbook definition:

—Processing: “1. the arrangement, description, and housing of archival materials for storage and use by patrons.”

From Ford Motor Company: “A collective term used in archival administration that refers to the activity required to gain intellectual control of records, papers, or collections, including accessioning, arrangement, culling, boxing, labeling, description, preservation and conservation.”
—–Richard Pearce-Moses*

*—Moses, R. (2005). A glossary of archival and records terminology. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, p. 314.

The basic idea is this: What do I have, what is it about, and where can I find it?  Answer these questions well and you have started down the road of processing that collection.

ACU history majors in Dr. Tracy Shilcutt’s HIST 353 (Historical Methods) course process the papers of longtime ACC president Don Morris. While they work the 1960 ACC Bible lectureship speech by Dr. Carl Spain, Modern Challenges to Christian Morals, plays in the background.

The size of the collection could be very small…a folder or two…or even a single item…or very large like the Herald of Truth Records at 406 linear feet (in 105 boxes).  The collection could contain a single photograph, or a dimensional object, or a set of manuscript letters or diaries, or a series of institutional or organization records in file folders or notebooks. No matter the size, form, or contents, in broadest terms much of what happens in processing is very much the same across the board.  In every case the objective is the same: we want to know what it is, what it is about, and where it is located or housed.

Until we have some answers to these questions the collection, practically speaking, is of little use to a researcher.  If you, as the user of the archive, don’t know we have it, or can’t get to it, or can’t easily learn what is in the collection, you can’t make profitable use of the materials.  However, knowing an archive has a collection, something of what it contains, and the archivist can reliably retrieve it (or you as the user can reliably and repeatedly retrieve items within it), then what a boon that is to your research project.  That is the goal of processing: to put relevant materials within reach of the user.  Or at least to put materials within reach and let the user determine relevancy and usefulness for their work. This needs to happen consistently and reliably for each collection; it also needs to happen across all collections in an archive.

The fuller definition Pearce-Moses uses above (from Ford Motor Company) captures the wide range of activities that feed into archival processing.  It is appropriate to mention what is assumed to undergird this process.  The prior assumption is that every archival repository operates from a set of core values, or at least an institutional charge or government mandate, that govern its collecting areas.  Before anything is accepted into the archive it must first meet the collecting criteria.  If it is outside of scope we decline the donation or assist the donor find a more suitable home.  All things being equal and the materials are formally received into the archive (itself a separate set of actions called accessioning), the true work of processing begins.

A processed collection stands on two legs: arrangement and description.  The materials must be arranged in some fashion, and that arrangement must be described.  The materials themselves should also be described.  For example, a minister donates to Center for Restoration Studies a large set of correspondence, sermon notes, ephemera, and photographs.  The cardinal principle we follow is to maintain the creator’s arrangement of the material.  Since the arrangement says something about the creator, we will maintain it.  Some collections come to us in no order (I remember once about a decade ago opening a box to find a truly random stack of papers).  In those cases we must impose an arrangement.

In our example, if the minister has kept correspondence in a certain way (chronological, or by sender, or some other discernible order) we will keep them as-is and describe accordingly.  If it comes to us in chaos, we will sort it in a way that makes sense and enables a user to navigate through the materials.  If a preacher worked through Biblical books in canonical order, and filed sermon notes accordingly, we will keep them just like that because the order reflects how those items were created and used and that is very important.  Similar strategies will apply to the remainder of the collection.  We will arrange this set of papers into four series: correspondence, sermon notes, ephemera, and photographs.  We might further subdivide these series if needed or if the original arrangement demands it.  Or we might decide this is sufficient to allow a researcher reasonable access, and let the motivated researcher take it from here.  At this stage we will often rehouse materials into stable acid-free folders, sleeve photographs, or perform basic conservation techniques.

This might take a day or two for a small collection or several weeks for a large collection. Estimates vary about how long this should take, but all agree it takes time.  Some estimate adequate processing should take 2-3 hours per cu. ft. box, other as high 8-10 hours per box. If items require extensive conservation it will require much more time.  If the materials come to us in good order, processing time goes down.  The opposite holds true for the rare cases when we receive materials in no discernible order.

No two collections are the same, but the goal is to achieve some level of knowledge about the contents of the collection, its arrangement, and order.  The twin legs of arrangement and description give us something to stand on and by this point we have come a long way.  Once a collection is processed we know (to some degree at least) what it contains and we can retrieve items from it easily and reliably and repeatedly.  A corollary to ‘processing’ is ‘control.’  When we know what we have in a collection of papers and what it is about, we have achieved a certain kind of control over it: intellectual control.  When we can gain physical access to it, be it at the collection level, or sometimes at the item level (or anywhere in between) we have achieved another kind of control: physical control.

The next step is to convey that information to our users in the form of ‘finding aids’ which are documents (paper or electronic) that render these kinds of knowledge available to users:

—Finding aid: “1. A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records. 2. A description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.”

—“A finding aid is a single document that places the materials in context by consolidating information about he collection, such as acquisition and processing; provenance, including administrative history or biographical note; scope of collection including size, subjects, media; organization and arrangement; and an inventory of the series and the folders.

—–Richard Pearce-Moses*

*—Moses, R. (2005). A glossary of archival and records terminology. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, p. 168.

We use not one, but three methods to convey this knowledge to our users.  The first is a library catalog record for the collection.  This renders the collection visible to searchers looking in our online library catalog and globally through Worldcat.org.  A second is through our online digital repository at digitalcommons.acu.edu.  A third is through producing electronic documents (PDF format) that are also published on digitalcommons.acu.edu.  To see examples of these, search our local library catalog and/or WorldCat for ‘Theophilus Brown Larimore Papers‘.   You can search or browse ACU DigitalCommons and find the collection record that way, too.

There are multiple ways to process a collection.  There are multiple components to the processing process: sometimes sequential, sometimes iterative, these steps come with a set of concerns, objectives, outcomes and ways of doing things.  Each step or stage has options, and just as no two archival collections are the same, no two processing strategies need be the same.  While there is a good bit of science here, much of it is an art.  Part of this process is to determine the extent to which we should process a collection.  How detailed must the arrangement and description be?  How much do we need to learn or discover about a collection before we can call it processed?  How much processing is sufficient to achieve access for the user?  Who might use the collection?  How much and what kind of processing is best, all things considered?  All good questions, and all them and more are part of the process.

These approaches aim at different kinds of outcomes, each desirable in its own way according to its own rationale.  We’ll cover some of those in future posts, with examples from the holdings of the Center for Restoration Studies. Stay tuned.