What Does Special Collections Collect?: A Brief Guide for Donors and Patrons

ACU Special Collections and Archives actively seeks materials from, by and about the Restoration Movement from its earliest days to the present.  We hold books, periodicals, ephemera, photographs, audio and video recordings, archival materials and artifacts.

Books and periodicals:  Ideally we will preserve one copy in as pristine a condition as we can locate.  Where we have two copies, one will be available to researchers as a ‘use copy’ while the other is kept as a ‘preservation copy.’  We are always looking to 1) fill in gaps in our collection; 2) to acquire better-condition copies; and 3) acquire signed or inscribed copies.  In outstanding cases we will retain additional signed or association copies.

Several first editions of the works of Alexander Campbell. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Masthead, Gospel Advance, September 1919, vol. 1 no. 1. Edited and published by Price Billingsley. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Ephemera and photographs:  Printed for the moment then cast aside, ephemeral items open a window into our history that is, regrettably, seldom preserved.  Broadsides, leaflets, posters, advertising cards, clippings and the like can help us understand moments that comprise our history.  Photographs, portraits, snapshots, and slides document the moment without using words.

Campbell Street Church of Christ, Louisville, KY. 3 June 1923. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Scrapbook, Box 1, Folder 1, Mable Fuchs Papers, 1920-1921. Center for Restoration Studies MS #445. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Audio and Video Recordings:  We estimate that we hold over 15,000 recordings in a variety of formats (from magnetic tape reels to phonograph records to cassettes to VCR tapes and DVDs).  Listen below to Lynn Anderson’s sermon Ride the Wild Horses:

Listen below to Zelma Stroop remember David and Margaret Lipscomb:

Archival material: We currently house just under 490 collections of personal papers of ministers, evangelists, professors, editors and missionaries.  Each set is as different as its creator.  Some are rich in sermons or correspondence, others in manuscript materials and some contain records from congregations or organizations.  Many have a little of everything. Congregational records include minutes books, selected bulletins, membership rosters, and directories.

Letter from Carl Ketcherside to Stanley Paregien, 11 February 1970. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Letter of Recommendation for both G.W. Varner and A.V. Varner signed by the entire congregation. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Artifacts: The iconic pulpit used by Thomas Campbell at Ahorey (Ireland) Presbyterian Church may be our most recognizable artifact.  But we have communion ware from the 19th and early 20th centuries, a pew from the Madison, TN Church of Christ and artifacts from across the world from several missionaries.  These items tell yet another side to the story.

Bed-sheet sized sermon chart on Heaven, ca. 1940s-1950s. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Brass printing plates used in the production of Great Songs of the Church. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

If you have materials like these you would like to donate, please contact Mac Ice, Director of Special Collections and Archives at mac.ice@acu.edu or (325) 674-2144.  Mac will be pleased to discuss any aspect of the holdings and work of ACU Special Collections and Archives.

On the Shelf: New items added to Center for Restoration Studies collections, September 2019

In September our colleagues in Technical Services and Cataloging added 209 items to the Center for Restoration Studies, University Archives, and Rare Books collections.  Among them are books, periodical issues (bound and unbound), while others are tracts and a few A/V items. Most are new to us but a handful are second copies.  The work performed on some items reflects original cataloging, which is a tremendous contribution to knowledge about information resources from and about the Stone-Campbell Movement.

The Library in Daisy Hall.  Jesse Sewell reads a book at a table surrounded by shelves of books.

Our goal is to build a comprehensive research-level collection of print materials by, for, and about the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement.  But beyond assembly and preservation, a collection should be discoverable by those who need the information.  Collecting and preserving is only part of our task; those objects must be described and made available.  Thanks to the close and careful work of our colleagues upstairs, who describe our holdings, these materials are now discoverable. By discoverable I mean a patron can utilize our online catalog (such as by searching by author, or title, or subject) to find these materials.

209 new items…cataloged, shelved, and ready for research: Continue reading

Mission Journal (1967-1988) now available online

We are pleased to announce Mission Journal is now available online for full-text browsing, searching, and download. From 1967 to 1988, 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.  It was one of the most controversial periodicals among Churches of Christ in the decades of the late 1960s-mid 1980s.

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.”

Turner’s 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:

With the completion of the digitization project, fully searchable and downloadable PDFs of every issue are available at http://digitalcommons.acu.edu/missionjournal.  Mission on ACU DigitalCommons contains the full run of the journal, from volume 1, number 1 (July 1967) to the final issue, volume 21, numbers 5-6 (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 was led by Mac Ice, Director of Archives and Special Collections. Student workers Julia Teel and Cayla Savari accomplished much of the digitization work, from scanning to page proofing.  Archivist Amanda Dietz worked with BePress to fine tune the public display details and ensure each issue was uploaded and working properly.  We are grateful for the partnership with Greg McKinzie, Executive Editor of Missio Dei Journal, Bob Turner, Librarian at Harding School of Theology and Thomas Olbricht for their fine work in contextualizing Mission’s voice amid the editorial landscape of late 20th century Churches of Christ.