Foldered & Finished: Don Heath Morris Presidential Records, 1942-1974

The Don Heath Morris Presidential Records (1942-1974) are processed and ready for researchers. The finding aid for the papers is now available on our institutional repository. These papers include 80 linear feet (190 boxes) of correspondence and topical files generated, compiled, and utilized by Don Heath Morris in the course of his duties as President of Abilene Christian College.

Dr. Don Heath Morris earned his education degree at Abilene Christian College. As a student, he served as president of his class; edited the school yearbook, the Prickly Pear; and participated in intercollegiate debate, never losing a decision. After graduation, he taught and coached debate at Abilene High School. He returned to Abilene Christian in 1928 as a speech teacher. In four years, he rose to the vice presidency. From 1932-1940, he was vice president and head of the Department of Speech. Morris was the first former student to become president of Abilene Christian College. He served 29 years, and in 1969 ranked as the dean of college and university presidents in Texas, having served the longest in the chief executive’s position. He received three honorary doctorates from other Christian colleges before his retirement in 1969. After retirement, Morris was appointed the first Chancellor and remained active in campus life. He died suddenly on January 9, 1974, suffering a heart attack while walking from Moody Coliseum back to his office in Brown Library. His Presidential papers remained as he left them, and we transferred into the University Archives shortly after his death. [Adapted from https://www.acu.edu/about/past-present-future/leadership.html. Accessed 19 August 2020]

Photo of Walter Adams (Dean), Don Morris (President), and Lawrence Smith (Bursar) sitting on a couch with Walter Adams getting ready to sign something. There are flowers on the middle of the table and a Bible is in front of Lawrence Smith. Ca. 1965. From the Jesse P. Sewell Photograph Collection: https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/sewell_photos/837/

This processing of the Morris Papers began through partnership with Dr .Tracy Shilcutt, Professor of History, and successive classes of her students in HIST 353: Historical Methods. These students worked under the supervision of Special Collections staff Chad Longley, Ron Longwell, Carisse Berryhill, Amanda Dietz, and McGarvey Ice.  Students refoldered the collection into acid-free folders, generated the folder-level description, while gaining hands-on experience in archival theory and practice as part of their training in historical methodologies.

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.

Photo of the Sub-T 16 Social Club:top row-Walter Adams, Raymond Simcox, A.C. Hill, Wendell Bedicheck, Aubrey Pete Banowsky, Jack Meyer, John Paul Gibson, Lowell Whimbush, J.C. Brown. second row-Oscar Kelley, Ernest Wells, Rupett Watson, Ernest Witt, Frank Kerchville, Albert Wall, Don Morris. From the Jesse P. Sewell Photograph Collection: https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/sewell_photos/392/


Additional materials by or about Don Heath Morris:

–Don Heath Morris, “Moral responsibilities of Christian Leadership,” 1963 Abilene Christian College Lectureship

Owen Cosgrove interview with J. W. Treat. Oral history interview on cassette dated 29 August 1975. Owen Glen Cosgrove interviewed J. W. Treat, head of the Language Department at Abilene Christian College. Cosgrove chose to interview Treat because he roomed with President Don Morris while they were doing graduate work at the University of Texas and because they worked together at Abilene Christian College for thirty-five years.

 

Save the Date: Restoration Day September 7, 2020

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Abilene Christian University and its Center for Restoration Studies will host Restoration Day 2020 on September 7 to mark the anniversary of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address and highlight the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement’s historic emphasis on unity in the Body of Christ.

This year’s Restoration Day activities will be held virtually and will center upon one of the most important figures in the movement’s history, Alexander Campbell. Dr. Douglas A. Foster, professor emeritus of church history at ACU and one of the foremost scholars of the Restoration Movement, recently completed the first ever critical biography of Alexander Campbell entitled A Life of Alexander Campbell. Dr. Foster will share his wisdom via a recorded lecture on the topic of Campbell’s life and ministry, and as an added bonus, Dr. Foster will speak from behind Thomas Campbell’s pulpit from Ireland, currently housed at ACU’s Center for Restoration Studies.

Watch the video here:

Restoration Day 2020: Alexander Campbell and Believer’s Immersion by Dr. Douglas A. Foster from ACU Library on Vimeo.

Blessings,

Wes Crawford, PhD

Assistant Professor of Church History
Director, Center for Restoration Studies
Abilene Christian University

T. B. Larimore digital archive now available

A collection of several hundred items of correspondence illustrating the educational work of Theophilus Brown Larimore is now available online.

This online collection contains scans (and in many cases transcriptions) of the full contents of the Theophilus Brown Larimore Papers, Center for Restoration Studies Manuscripts #6 consisting of personal and business correspondence of T. B. Larimore and B. R. Colson  relating to the establishment of Dixieland College in Gainesville, Florida.

This is our first attempt at launching a full-scale online presentation of an entire manuscripts collection in DigitalCommons.  Leveraging remote-work arrangements, courtesy of COVID-19, Amanda Dietz worked from scans prepared several years ago to generate transcriptions of many items of handwritten correspondence.  She then uploaded the entire set with metadata description.  All told, there are over 400 items in this collection.

It is a significant set of materials relating to a proposed-but-never-instituted Christian school in Gainesville Florida.  Scholars interested in higher education among Churches of Christ will find this collection particularly useful, as will anyone interested in Larimore’s life and work.  He was among the most widely-known and successful evangelists among Disciples and Churches of Christ from the latter decades of the nineteenth century until his death in 1929.  Larimore established his reputation as an educator through his first school at Florence, Alabama (Mars Hill College) in the 1880s through which he trained several prominent evangelists.  He also served Freed-Hardeman College in a brief stint.  Dixieland College was one of many efforts by leaders among Churches of Christ to establish high schools and colleges throughout the Untied States. Larimore’s second wife, Emma Page Larimore, was involved also in the planning of this school.  His influence extended widely through his students and his writings, the collecting and editing of which Emma played a critical role.  This set of materials reveals the web of relationships among church periodicals and those who edited them, leading evangelists and writers, educators, and Christian business leaders and local professionals.  The materials give a scarce behind-the-scenes view, in remarkable definition, of the shared efforts requisite to sustaining Christian educational institutions in the early 20th century.

Agreement between G. M. D. Bowers, W. W. Colson, and B. R. Colson to hold land in Dixieland Park for Theophilus Brown Larimore. The one-page typewritten agreement is on Our Florida Friend letterhead and dated 1 May 1913. Recommended Citation: 1 May 1913 property agreement, Dixieland College Material (1), Theophilus Brown Larimore Papers, 1907-1935. Center for Restoration Studies MS #6. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Larimore’s partner in the Dixieland venture was Barney R. Colson.  Colson maintained an active correspondence with local constituents as well as leading figures among Churches of Christ, such as H. C. Shoulders, J. B. Nelson, J. W. Grant, J. G. Malphurs, John T. Hinds, J. M. McCaleb, W. S. Long, G. A. Dunn, and J. W. Dunn.  Larimore also received letters form several preachers and teachers interested in the work, such as W. W. Slater and Isaac E. Tackett.

Another significant letter held in this collection is one J. N. Armstrong, former President of Harding College, drafted to the United States government concerning the general position of Churches of Christ regarding the propriety of a Christian participating in war.  Armstrong send Colson a copy of that letter.

Copy of letter and paper J. N. Armstrong sent to the War Department dated 13 October 1935, Theophilus Brown Larimore Papers, 1907-1935. Center for Restoration Studies MS #6. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX. https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/dixieland_college_materials/275/

Recommended Citation Copy of letter and paper J. N. Armstrong sent to the War Department dated 13 October 1935, Theophilus Brown Larimore Papers, 1907-1935. Center for Restoration Studies MS #6. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX. https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/dixieland_college_materials/275/

Copy of letter and paper J. N. Armstrong sent to the War Department dated 13 October 1935, Theophilus Brown Larimore Papers, 1907-1935. Center for Restoration Studies MS #6. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX. https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/dixieland_college_materials/275/

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Related materials:

Manuscripts #6 is the largest set of Larimore-related items we hold.  The other significant collection is from his sister, Mary Larimore Meeks (CRS Manuscripts #264).

Three volumes of Larimore’s sermons, a hymnal, and one slim monograph entitled ‘What Must I Do To Be Saved, are available online;

Letters and Sermons of T. B. Larimore (1900, rev ed. of 1903)

Letters and Sermons of T. B. Larimore (1904)

Letters and Sermons of T. B. Larimore (1910)

What Must I Do To Be Saved? [ca. 1910]

Seventy-Seven Sweet Songs (1906)

In 1986 Doug Foster spoke at the ACU Bible Lectureship about T. B. Larimore’s life and work.  In 1995, R. L. Roberts included Larimore in his lectureship class.