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.

Foldered & Finished: Exodus/New Jersey Records

The Exodus/New Jersey Records are ready for researchers. An updated finding aid and digitized selections from the collection are now available on DigitalCommons@ACU.

Broadway Bulletin from 12 September 1971, box 1, Exodus/New Jersey Papers, 1964-1971. Center for Restoration Studies MS #10. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Exodus/New Jersey was a missions program spearheaded by the Golf Course Road Church of Christ in Midland, TX. The church, along with others sent families and individuals to Somerset Co., New Jersey to establish a church plant. The program was a part of the larger Exodus Movement, which sought to establish Churches of Christ in the Northeast.

Advancing the Church through Effective Missions September 1965, box 1, Exodus/New Jersey Papers, 1964-1971. Center for Restoration Studies MS #10. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

International Mission is an organization founded by Garretson Road Church of Christ in Bridgewater, New Jersey. The organization sought to evangelize international travelers in New York City by inviting them into the homes of members of their congregation.

International Mission booklet, box 1, Exodus/New Jersey Papers, 1964-1971. Center for Restoration Studies MS #10. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

This collection contains materials concerning and produced by the Exodus/New Jersey missionary program. The collection also contains materials produced by International Mission, an organization sponsored by Garretson Road Church of Christ.

Other resources from ACU Special Collections related to the Exodus Movement:

This Just In: Congregational Histories

A few days ago a donor sent us another box of wonderful books that will fill in many gaps in our collection. Among those books are several congregational histories. These, too, are a welcome addition. Each one is new to us and as a lot they represent a very wide ideological, chronological, and geographical spectrum. Tip O’Neill remarked ‘All politics is local.’ In a similar way, all history is local, and congregational histories document how people lived out their convictions as an assembly.  They are vital sources of information.  Intellectual and social histories of the Restoration Movement provide one kind of analysis; congregational history provide another. In congregational life and history and practice we see the general rules proved time and again; or we can see exceptions and variations. Sometimes we may see both in the same congregation. In every case, the congregational history, and the congregational historian, makes this kind of analysis possible. For this reason we want very much to preserve a robust collection of congregational histories.

We file them in a subset of our vertical files. Within the collections of Center for Restoration Studies we have a set each of biographical, congregational, missions or world churches, organizational, and subject files. We catalog books with a Dewey number and shelve them; materials that cannot be easily or safely shelved need another storage method. A vertical file is an ideal storage method for items that are small, thin, ephemeral, or for some other reason cannot or should not go on a shelf. Rather, they go in folders in a file cabinet. While a Dewey number gives us access to books (search for an item in the online catalog, find it, then locate the number and go to the shelf), a vertical file gets a finding aid. The folders are arranged in some kind of order (often alphabetical) and each one is listed in a document. That document is published or made available to the public so researchers can read or scan (or search) the document and locate the desired folder.  Then we go to the right drawer in the file cabinet and bring them just what they need.  Our congregational files are arranged in alphabetical order by state, then by city within each state, then by congregation in each city. Items in a vertical file usually are not cataloged or described at the item level. In the case of our vertical files, if a researcher can discover we have a file for a particular person, congregation, organization or subject, then that usually gets them far enough along in the discovery process.  This provides a reliable way to manage the information and get the item in the hands of the researcher.  It is also scalable: we can easily grow and expand the collection when new items like these come in.

So, thanks to a generous donor, here are the newest additions. When we update the finding aid it will be available here.

High Street Church of Christ, Akron Ohio

Church of Christ, Alice, Texas

Gatton Church of Christ, Gatton, Queensland, Australia

Alleghany Church of Christ, Christiansburg, Virginia

First Christian Church, Frankfort, Kentucky

Ninth Avenue Church of Christ, Haleyville, Alabama

Salem Church of Christ, Lauderdale County, Alabama

Highland Street Church of Christ, Memphis, Tennessee

Eastside Church of Christ, Midwest City, Oklahoma

First Christian Church, Nevada, Missouri

Southgate Church of Christ, San Angelo, Texas