What’s New at the Billy Graham Center Archives?

Luis_Palau_predicando_zoom

The Billy Graham Center Archives recently acquired some of Luis Palau’s private papers

If you study American evangelicalism, you have probably made a visit to the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College.  Last year the archives lost the papers of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, but it also acquired some very interesting collections.   Here is a taste of a recent post at the archives blog:

Every once in a while, acquisitions in a given year seem to follow a specific theme. In 2018 we received several large collections of private papers by prominent figures in evangelistic ministry, including Merrill Dunlop, Luis Palau, Merv Rosell, and George Beverly Shea. On the other hand, 2019 was the year of the authors. Individuals who had written significant books on evangelism and /or evangelical history contributed their research files, which included boxes and boxes of letters, transcripts, audio recordings, photos, and more that they had gathered. For example, Valarie Elliot Shepard donated the letters her parents had written to each other during their courtship, which formed the basis of her book, Devoted: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot (2019) The gift also included Jim Elliot’s papers from his days as a Wheaton College student. The Elliots were best known for their involvement in evangelism among the Waorani people of Ecuador. The Waorani had never heard the Christian gospel, and Jim and five other men formed a project to reach them. On January 6, 1956 after an initial friendly contact, all five men were killed by members of the tribe. In October 1958, Elisabeth, along with Rachael Saint, the sister of one of the five, and three-year old Valerie traveled into the jungle to live among the Waorani and begin the work that was to bring many of them to faith in Jesus Christ.

Read the entire post here.

In Search of Impeachment Artifacts

Impeach Nixon
The National Museum of American History wants them.  Here is Peggy McGlone at The Washington Post:

Years from now, when school groups visit the National Museum of American History, they might learn about the impeachment of a president through a fidget spinner. And they will have Jon Grinspan, the Smithsonian’s curator of political history, to thank.

Grinspan is a soft-spoken, academic version of Indiana Jones, on the hunt not for the Ark of the Covenant but for something perhaps more elusive: the exactly right objects to tell the story of the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.

Grinspan was in the Senate gallery last week when he observed several politicians — who are banned from using cellphones during the trial — keeping their hands busy with the popular toys. Maybe the items will be used to illustrate the tedium of the marathon sessions and the challenge of keeping senators/jurors alert and focused on the proceedings.

Grinspan has yet to acquire a fidget spinner — or any object that tells the story of these events, only the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation’s history. But he and two colleagues will do their best to compile a group of items that will help the museum chronicle this highly charged moment in a nonpartisan way.

It’s not an easy task, although the danger is not of the Indiana Jones, giant-rolling-boulder variety.

Read the rest here.

The National Archives is “out of the photoshop business”

00a3e-national_archives_dc_2007

On Friday we called your attention to the doctored picture of the 2017 Women’s March on display at the National Archives.  Now the National Archives are apologizing for the picture.  Here is a taste of Steven Thompson’s and Joe Heim’s piece at The Washington Post:

The museum said in tweets Saturday that the display would be replaced “with one that uses the unaltered image” and that museum officials would “start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.”

But in a Washington Post article published Friday, prominent historians expressed dismay.

After the museum’s apology, Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley said he was pleased that the National Archives is “out of the Photoshop business.”

“It’s refreshing that the National Archives stepped up and fixed a grave wrong,” he said. “It’s more important than ever that U.S. government institutions keep their integrity intact with the American public.”

Read the entire piece here.

The National Archives Edited-Out Anti-Trump Signs in an Image of the 2017 Women’s March

 

Archives

Here is Joe Heim at The Washington Post:

The large color photograph that greets visitors to a National Archives exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage shows a massive crowd filling Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement.

But a closer look reveals a different story.

The Archives acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred.

In the original version of the 2017 photograph, taken by Getty Images photographer Mario Tama, the street is packed with marchers carrying a variety of signs, with the Capitol in the background. In the Archives version, at least four of those signs are altered.

A placard that proclaims “God Hates Trump” has “Trump” blotted out so that it reads “God Hates.” A sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women” has the word Trump blurred out.

Signs with messages that referenced women’s anatomy — which were prevalent at the march — are also digitally altered. One that reads “If my vagina could shoot bullets, it’d be less REGULATED” has “vagina” blurred out. And another that says “This Pussy Grabs Back” has the word “Pussy” erased.

The Archives said the decision to obscure the words was made as the exhibit was being developed by agency managers and museum staff members. It said David S. Ferriero, the archivist of the United States who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, participated in talks regarding the exhibit and supports the decision to edit the photo.

Read the rest here.

Here is presidential historian Douglas Brinkley: “There’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic paragraph…If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it.  But to confuse the public is reprehensible.”

It is hard to argue with Brinkley here.

Robert Caro’s Papers Go to the New-York Historical Society

Robert Caro, author of "The Power Broker," a biography on Ro

The last time I checked, author and historian Robert Caro was still writing the fifth volume in his massive history of Lyndon B. Johnson.  I’ve written a few posts on Caro over the years because I am always fascinated by the way historians work.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Caro’s papers will be deposited at the New-York Historical Society.  Here is a taste of Jennifer Schuessler’s piece at The New York Times:

Robert Caro is famous for colossal biographies of colossal figures. “The Power Broker,” his Pulitzer Prize-winning life of Robert Moses, weighed in at nearly 1,300 pages. His as-yet-unfinished biography of Lyndon B. Johnson — he likes to call the volume-in-progress “the fifth of a projected three” — totals 3,444 pages and counting.

The books are already monumental. And now Mr. Caro is getting monumental treatment himself.

The New-York Historical Society has acquired Mr. Caro’s papers — some 200 linear feet of material that will be open to researchers in its library. And just as important to the 84-year-old Mr. Caro, it will create a permanent installation in its museum galleries dedicated to showing how he got the job done.

Read the rest here.

 

Have You Visited the Billy Graham Center Archives?

Graham Center archives

Last year evangelist Franklin Graham moved the papers of his father, Billy Graham, from the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We commented here and here and here.

Despite the transfer of the Billy Graham papers, the Billy Graham Center Archives continue to be the country’s most important repository for the study of American evangelicalism.  Here is a taste of archivist Katherine Graber‘s recent piece at Christianity Today:

What makes the BGC Archives unique is its focus on collecting records that have traditionally been overlooked by other research libraries.

While church denominations collect their own records, many nondenominational and parachurch organizations simply do not have the resources to preserve their history, let alone make it available to outside researchers.

Often, these records are lost or destroyed, and with them invaluable pieces of American evangelical history. The BGC Archives exists to preserve those materials that might otherwise fall through the documentary cracks. After more than40 years of collecting, the BGC Archives now holds records documenting a broad range of missions and evangelism efforts.

Organizations like the Lausanne Movement and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship are perennially popular. More recently, we have witnessed renewed interest in role of American evangelicals in 20th-century global missions.

Records from organizations like Africa Inland Mission, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, or Latin America Mission are frequently requested by both scholars and laypeople. While documenting evangelical missions and evangelism is the core of the BGC Archives’ collecting focus, we also hold records that chronicle American evangelicalism more broadly, such as the records of Moody Memorial Church, the Fellowship Foundation, and Evangelicals for Social Action, as well as papers from figures like missiologist Donald McGavran, theologian Harold Lindsell, and even hymn-writer Fanny Crosby.

In addition to making our current collections available to researchers, the BGC Archives is continually receiving new materials, usually faster than we can open them for research. Some new and noteworthy collections donated in 2019 include a treasure trove of Elisabeth Elliot materials, such as recordings from her Gateway to Joy radio program, lecture notes from her many speaking engagements, and years of correspondence between her and Jim Elliot written during their courtship.

We also gathered new materials from a longtime missionary to Kenya that document the growth of evangelical missions efforts in East Africa and supplement our extensive Africa Inland Mission records.

Read the entire piece here.

The Huntington Library Acquires New Collections on Slavery

Huntington

Here is Pasadena Now:

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced today that it has acquired two collections related to abolition and slavery in 19th-century America, including an exceptionally rare account book from the Underground Railroad.

The first group of materials includes the papers of Zachariah Taylor Shugart (1805–1881), a Quaker abolitionist who operated an Underground Railroad stop at his farm in Cass County, Michigan. The centerpiece of the collection is an account ledger which contains the names of 137 men and women who passed through Shugart’s farm while trying to reach freedom in Canada; these names are recorded amid everyday details of Shugart’s business life, including the number of minks he trapped and the debts he was owed.

The second collection is the archive of some 2,000 letters and accounts documenting the history of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury saltworks, a major operation founded in 1808 in what is now Kanawha County, West Virginia. The records shed light on an industry that was not plantation-based but still relied heavily on slave labor.

“These new materials provide compelling windows into the lives of those who were enslaved and those who escaped slavery, and also shed light on the politics of the times before, during, and after the Civil War,” said Sandra Ludig Brooke, Avery Director of the Library at The Huntington. “They are a vivid complement to The Huntington’s rich collections documenting American slavery, abolitionist movements, and the history of the American South.”

Read the rest here.

Five New Digitized Manuscript Collections at the William L. Clements Library

library-outside

William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

They are:

African American History Collection, 1729-1966 (bulk 1781-1865) at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/a/africanamer/

Lydia Maria Child Papers, 1831-1894 at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/child/

Fort Wayne Indian Agency Collection, 1801-1815 at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/fortwayne/

Henry James Family Correspondence, 1855-1865 (bulk 1859-1865) at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jameshenry/
Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society Papers, 1848-1868 at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/r/rochester/

Learn more here.

An Introduction to the Winthrop Family Papers

MassHistorichq

Massachusetts Historical Society

Peter Olsen-Harbich, a Ph.D Candidate at William & Mary, reflects on his experience working with the Winthrop Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.  Here is a taste:

Among the austere manuscripts of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s collection resides an unassuming assemblage. Weighing in at precisely ten boxes, it bears a substantive though middling rank in the vast archival stock of America. An additional marker of ordinary quality concludes the title of the collection: “Transcripts.” These are thus ten boxes of derivative, copied papers—primary documents by proxy only. Yet a full examination of the collection title suggests a content that is anything but mundane, for these are the “Winthrop Family Papers [Transcripts],” also known as Ms. N-2211, a trove of transcribed, unpublished correspondence from the family whose various progeny presided at the very center of seventeenth-century New England’s political orbit.

Read the rest here.

Are you looking for some good books on the Winthrop family?  Here are a few titles:

Francis Bremer, John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father

Edmund Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop

Daniel T. Rodgers, As a City Upon a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon

Walter Woodward, Prospero’s America: John Winthrop Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676.

Richard Dunn and Laetitia Yaendle, ed., The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649: Abridged Edition.

Some Good News on the Billy Graham Papers Front

Billy Graham Library

As many of you know, we have been covering the move of the Billy Graham Papers from Wheaton College to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Much of our coverage has been negative.  I have expressed concern that the papers will now be closed-off to researchers. Read our posts herehere, and here to get up to speed.

Now it looks like the Billy Graham Library is going to hire an archivist to care for the papers.

This appears to be a step in the right direction.  I am glad to see that the BGEA is advertising through the Society of American Archivists.  It looks like someone knows what they are doing. Of course the hiring of a professional archivist tells us nothing about what future access to the papers might look like.  We will see how it all plays out.

The Billy Graham Library supports the mission of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to proclaim the Gospel to all we can by every effective means available to us, and by equipping the church and others to do the same. Our staff and volunteers present the Gospel through the Journey of Faith tour, Memorial Prayer Garden, Homeplace, and evangelistic outreaches like Christmas at the Library. We also serve and equip Christians through the Billy Graham archives, Ruth’s Attic bookstore, Graham Brothers Dairy Bar, group programs, special events, memorabilia displays, student resources, communications, and donor ministry activities.

The BGEA archivist is responsible for the overall organization, management, supervision and preservation of the historical records program and the operations of the public research study center and program of the BGEA archives.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Oversee and manage BGEA archival functions and public research study center adhering to professional standards and requirements.
  • Process, arrange, catalog and store BGEA archival materials.
  • Manage archival collection and PastPerfect memorabilia databases.
  • Provide reference services to archival collections.
  • Plans and implement archival digitization and access initiatives.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current archival processes, long term storage requirements, digitization of materials, and trends in electronic delivery systems.
  • Assists in the development and maintenance of the archive’s web presence (presentation and content).

Marginal Duties and Responsibilities

  • Coordinate with Library promotions director and assistant for memorabilia displays and development of special interest programs in the Library.
  • Coordinates with the Director, Media and Archive group for preservation, storage and access for study of the BGEA audio-visual historical collection.
  • Review archival policies and procedures on an annual basis to adjust, update and create as needed.
  • Maintain professional awareness and technical expertise in archival work through attendance at educational workshops and professional training as needed, through review professional publications, and in utilizing professional networks and archival societies.
  • Maintain budgets and financial records.

Reporting Relationships

  • Reports to the Executive Director, Billy Graham Library.
  • Works with; Ministry Operations Director, Ministry Development Manager, Guest Services Manager, Volunteer Program Manager.
  • Relates to a variety of BGEA departments and ministries.

Benefits

  • Employees filling regular full-time positions, who are working no less than 40 hours per week, are eligible to participate in BGEA’s benefits program.

Skills and Knowledge

Master’s degree in library science or archival training from an ALA accredited institution.

  • Has understanding and experience with evangelical history, archival collections and theological/educational  institutions.
  • Two or more years’ experience in library or archive setting.
  • Experience in processing and organizing archival holdings, development of catalogs and guide systems.
  • Experience in archival database operations and other technical requirements.

Physical/Mental Demands

  • Excellent communication skills, written and verbal, including the ability to present information in a variety of formats.
  • Demonstrate organizational and time management skills.
  • Possess good interpersonal communication skills.
  • Ability to move boxes, stack materials, retrieve memorabilia items, and access shelving.

Working Conditions

  • Ability to perform under pressure and work with tight deadlines.
  • Ability to work independently as well as a team environment.
  • Possess excellent computer skills, including experience with archival database systems.
  • Ability to work at a computer station for long periods of time.

 

Ministry Requirements

  • Maintains a personal, active relationship with Jesus Christ and is a consistent witness for Jesus Christ.
  • Faithfully upholds BGEA in prayer.
  • Participates in daily BGEA staff devotions.
  • Demonstrates behavior aligned with BGEA’s Mission Statement, Statement of Faith, Hallmarks, policies, and expectations.
  • Effectively represents Jesus Christ to those within both personal and professional spheres of influence.

Thanks to my colleague Devon Manzullo-Thomas for bringing this to my attention.

More on the Billy Graham Archives Move from Wheaton to Charlotte

BG-Library-Fall-Events

Religion News Service is running another piece on the Franklin Graham’s decision to move the Billy Graham Archives from Wheaton College to the Billy Graham “Library” in Charlotte.

Back in March, I weighed-in as part of another RNS piece on this topic.  At that time I said this: “By taking the papers away from Wheaton, where access is open, Franklin Graham and the BGEA can now control access and can thus control the narrative of his father’s life in terms of who gets to read them….Evangelicals must come face to face with both the good side and bad side of their history by taking an honest look at people like Billy Graham.  I am not sure this will happen in Charlotte.  The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte is not a library.”

I also wrote a post here.

Here is a taste of Tim Funk’s recent RNS piece:

This week, at Wheaton College in Illinois, specially trained movers will begin organizing, preparing and packing 3,235 boxes of paper items, 1,000 scrapbooks of news clippings dating back to the 1940s and more than 1,000 linear feet of videos, cassettes, reels, films and audio.

All of it documents the life and ministry of evangelist Billy Graham, the Christian college’s most famous alumnus. And soon, all of it will be headed to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, N.C., Graham’s hometown.

The big transport trucks that will haul the valuable cargo won’t make the nearly 800-mile trip until mid to late June. But the controversy over moving the Graham materials all began more than two months ago. That’s when it was announced that, after June 1, the materials would no longer be housed at Wheaton’s highly regarded Billy Graham Center Archives.

Since it opened with Billy Graham’s blessing in 1980, more than 19,000 scholars, journalists and other researchers from around the world have spent 67,000 hours doing work there.

The BGEA’s Charlotte site does include the 12-year-old Billy Graham Library, but it was not designed as a research facility. Instead, it is a presidential-like museum celebrating the life of Graham, who died last year at age 99, and is a brick-and-mortar continuation of his worldwide evangelism efforts.

“The so-called (Billy Graham) Library is not a library,” said Edith Blumhofer, a longtime history professor at Wheaton who is now completing a study of the music of the Billy Graham Crusades. “It has no archives. It has no archivist.”

Read the entire piece here.

How is David Garrow’s MLK Article Faring Today?

King preaching

We are starting to hear from historians and others on today’s David Garrow’s Standpoint piece on Martin Luther’s King’s moral indiscretions.  I linked to the article here and blogged about it last night.

Here is some news/commentary on Garrow’s piece that we found today.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covers Garrow’s piece, has an article about Garrow, and explains to readers why it is covering this story.  In the latter piece, the AJC mentions that Garrow approached the paper with his findings and wanted to work together on an investigative report. AJC declined because it did not have access to the King tapes.  (The tapes will be released in 2027).

Meanwhile, the Washington Post quotes several historians.  Gillian Brockell’s piece notes that Garrow has been skeptical in the past about using FBI memos on historical research.  Garrow makes the case that the MLK memos are different. Yale’s Glenda Gilmore questions the veracity of the hand-written notes in the memos.  (This is relevant because the reference to King watching a rape is hand-written). Gilmore adds that FBI files often contain “a great deal of speculation, interpolation from snippets of facts, and outright errors.”  Nathan Connolly of Johns Hopkins is also “deeply suspicious” about Garrow’s sources.  He said that Garrow’s decision to publish these documents is “archivally irresponsible.”

From this article at Insider we learn that the Guardian originally accepted the piece and then retracted it at the last minute.  It was also rejected by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and The Intercept.

I am sure there are historians working on op-eds and blog posts as I type this.  I will monitor this as best I can.

Of course I have no idea if any of the allegations in Garrow’s piece are true.  Historians will offer interpretations.  The way they respond to this story could have career-defining implications.  I think you will see a lot of caution and hedging over the next few days and weeks.  And, I might add, this is a good thing.  Historians should be the last people to rush to judgement (one way or another) on a story like this.

Journalists will now try to track down people who know something about what is written in these FBI memos.  They will shape the so-called “first draft” of this story.

Indeed, as Connolly and Gilmore note, we need to think about bias in these FBI sources.  This is important, especially in light of what we know about J. Edgar Hoover.  I read some of the documents embedded in Garrow’s piece and I also had suspicions about the hand-written marginal comments.  The memos Garrow found were documents that were obviously part of an ongoing editing process.  I am guessing that the final, more polished, reports are with the tapes.  Once historians see them they will be able to make more definitive statements about how the FBI interpreted the tapes.

We also know that context teaches us that King was not a saint when it came to these encounters with women who were not his wife.  Any historian will take this into consideration. King historians can comment on just how far of an intellectual leap is needed to get from what we already knew about King to the allegations in the FBI memos.

And what if we learn that Garrow is right about King?  This will be a reminder that all historical figures are complex and deeply flawed people.  Stay tuned.

This is also a great opportunity for teaching students and others about how to read the Internet responsibly.  (See Sam Wineburg’s new book and our interview with him here).  Different news outlets and opinion sites are already reporting this story in different ways.

The David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing is Closing

David Library

I was recently contemplating a research trip to the David Library of the American Revolution (DLAR) in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.  I have some left-over professional development money that I need to spend by the end of June and the DLAR offers me the best bang (in terms of collections) for my buck.

I enjoy research at the David Library for several reasons:

First, the early American history collections are outstanding.   I have so much stuff I still need to look at for my current project!

Second, the David Library farm is a wonderful place to work.  Fellows have 24-hour access to the library.  One does not have to worry about parking.  There is housing on site. And the farm’s location on the Delaware Canal provides opportunities for walking and other forms of exercising.  It has always been my favorite place to work.

Third, former fellows and other scholars can stay at the on-site residence at a discount.  I have taken advantage of this several times. Meg McSweeney has always been so hospitable.

Fourth, I am nostalgic.  I attended my first McNeil Center for Early American Studies (it was then called the Philadelphia Center for Early American Studies) seminar at the David Library in 1995.  I held a research fellowship at the DLAR in 2008-2009.  I wrote my first The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog post in my room at the residence. I have lectured at the DLAR on several different occasions.  My family even visited one rainy Saturday afternoon during my fellowship and we organized baseball cards in my room.

David Library 2

But the days of the David Library–at least the Washington Crossing days–are coming to an end. The DLAR has just announced that it will be selling the farm and moving its collections to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.  Here is a taste of the press release:

In a bold decision that will preserve the material record of American Revolutionary history and make it accessible to scholars across the globe, the David Library of the American Revolution (DLAR) and the American Philosophical Society (APS) announce a new partnership that will create an unparalleled single site for the comprehensive study of early U.S. history.

The newly formed David Center for the American Revolution at the American Philosophical Society will provide for the long-term care and protection of the David Library’s collections, permit expanded public access to the materials, advance the current fellowship program, and enable the digitization of the documents. This new model of preservation comes at a time when many American historical institutions are struggling to maintain their collections.

“As a former research fellow at both the David Library and the American Philosophical Society, I am incredibly excited about this partnership,” said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, President & CEO of the Museum of the American Revolution. “In an era of tight budgets and uncertainty about the future of some of our most venerable historical organizations, this collaboration will make the David Center a powerhouse of scholarship on the American Revolution.  With the 250th anniversary of the nation fast approaching, this is definitely a case of 1 + 1 = 3.”

The David Library will continue to operate as usual in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania until the end of 2019.The transition period is expected to begin as early as this summer, as various committees work to fulfill the joint vision of the partnering institutions. Relocation of the collection from the David Library’s Bucks County campus to the American Philosophical Society will begin after the Library closes at the end of this year.

James J. Linksz, President of the David Library said that the partnership will ensure the long-term success of the David Library. “For the David Library to fulfill its potential to be the pre-eminent institution for scholarship and study of American history in the era of the American Revolution, the Board of Trustees determined that we needed a strong and distinguished institutional partner. In the American Philosophical Society, we think we have found the best partner possible. We are sad to leave Bucks County, the David Library’s home since its founding in 1959, but we are excited to join the APS in Philadelphia, the city where the United States of America began, and we look forward to our future as the David Center.”

The new Center will house the vast collection of rare and important documents, microfilm and other material from the David Library of the American Revolution, including original letters and journals from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and other founding fathers.

The David Library Board of Trustees will be tasked with determining the next life for portions of the 118-acre Bucks County property along River Road in Upper Makefield Township (Washington Crossing), where the Library has been located for the past 45 years.  A significant portion of the property, 52.53 acres, has already been protected from development through the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation program, and will remain open space. With that restriction, the entire property will be offered for sale and the proceeds will help to fund future programming and collections care at the David Center for the American Revolution at the American Philosophical Society.

“The DLAR and the APS have long shared missions to support scholarship and disseminate knowledge about the birth of our nation,” said Robert M. Hauser, Executive Officer of the APS. “This new partnership allows the DLAR to preserve that mission while leveraging professional, financial, and technological resources at APS that will expand the David Library’s reach and impact.”

Read the rest here.

I will reserve judgement until I learn more about the nature of “David Center for the American Revolution.”

T.J. Stiles: “America is losing its memory”

Archives

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian T.J. Stiles has a great piece at The Washington Post on reduced funding for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  This is a must read.

A taste:

Every American can go to the National Archives and get direct access to our past and present. And everyone suffers from the failure to pay what it costs to maintain it. In fiscal 2010, Congress granted NARA $475 million , for example. The next year, it cut the appropriation to $420 million. The appropriation for 2018 was $403.2 million. For 2020, the Trump administration is asking for $358 million. Such repeated, harsh reductions are even worse when adjusted for inflation.

Even as appropriations decline, the workload increases. Already NARA facilities are near full capacity for record storage, holding some 4.5 million cubic feet. Yet more files arrive annually, with as much as 2.5 million cubic feet of “permanently valuable, historical records” expected over the next 14 years.

Selecting and preserving these records demand countless hours of expert labor. Some records need special care; all must be identified and catalogued; security and privacy concerns require diligent attention. On top of that, NARA has been asked to digitize those existing paper records. In 2018, it lagged nearly 12 million pages behind its goal of making 65 million available online — in itself a small fraction of its total holdings.

The fiscal constriction shows at the scores of facilities where the public accesses federal records. NARA maintains more than a dozen presidential libraries, 13 federal records centers, 11 regional facilities and two personnel records centers, not to mention two central locations in College Park and Washington. Recent years have seen visitor hours restricted, new fees levied and a shrinking workforce.

That staff consists of dedicated professionals. I’ve worked with many of them personally, from rank-and-file archivists to the agency’s nonpartisan leadership, and I have great confidence in them. (I spoke to no one at NARA about this essay.) But only so much can be accomplished with a shrinking budget. In 2017, an employee survey found 73 percent agreed that “my agency is successful at accomplishing its mission.” In 2018, that figure declined to 66 percent, an alarming level for such a critical body.

We owe it to ourselves to substantially increase funding for the keepers of our national memory. No financial interest or large popular pressure group lobbies on NARA’s behalf. Its constituency is all of us — and every American to come. If we lose touch with who we have been, what we have endured and how we have argued, the United States will stand for nothing at all.

Read the entire piece here.

More on the Billy Graham Papers

Billy Graham LibraryAdelle Banks has a piece on this at Religion News Service.   I was happy to weigh-in.  I also covered this here.  This is yet another example of evangelicals trying to control their historical narratives.  This is similar to what I experienced in writing the history of the American Bible Society.

So I wonder, is Franklin Graham worried that scholars and historians will find more unflattering things about his father?  Let’s face it, evangelicals need good history more than ever.  We need to look into the mirror of the past and see what we have done well and where we have failed.  I am afraid that this will not happen if more and more evangelical institutions try to control access to records in this way.  History will become hagiography.

Pope Francis to Open Records of Pope Pius XII’s Papacy

Pope-Pius_1561952c

The records of Pope Pius XII will be open to scholars next March. If you want to know why this is important check out David Kertzer‘s piece at The Atlantic: “The Secrets That Might Be Hiding in the Vatican’s Archives.”  Here is a taste:

On Monday, 80 years after Pius XII’s election to the papacy, Pope Francis announced that the archives of the controversial wartime pontiff would be opened to scholars next March. The decision follows more than half a century of pressure. Pius XII—a hero of Catholic conservatives, who eagerly await his canonization as a saint, while denounced by his detractors for failing to condemn the Nazis’ genocidal campaign against Europe’s Jews—might well be the most controversial pope in Church history.

Less noticed in initial accounts of the announcement is the fact that Francis’s opening of the Pius XII archives makes available not only the 17 million pages of documents in the central Vatican archives, but many other materials in other Church archives. Not least of these are the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition) and the central archives of the Jesuit order. They, too, are likely to have much that is new to tell us.

Read the rest here.

Did Paige Patterson Take Letters Dealing With an Alleged Rape from the Southeastern Seminary Archives?

southwestern-baptist-theological-seminary

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I had never heard of Wade Burleson until this whole Paige Patterson mess broke.  I find his commentary to have a degree of moral clarity that seems to be missing from the decisions of the members of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary Board of Trustees.  Southern Baptists should be embarrassed by the way the Board has handled Patterson’s departure.

Here is a taste of Burleson’s latest blog post:

Social media and the Southern Baptist Convention are in a firestorm over the decision by trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to elevate Dr. Paige Patterson to the position of President Emeritus, to continue paying him an annual salary, and to allow him to live on campus.

Christianity Today and others report Patterson Is Out, but those in the know remember that Dr. Russell Dilday, Dr. Ken Hemphill, and other former Presidents of SBC seminaries were never given such cushy treatment when they were “out.”  I also guarantee you that every Southern Baptist pastor who’s been told “You’re out!” would love their church to define “out” the way the SWBTS trustees define it.

I scratch my head till it hurts trying to understand how President Paige Patterson can be exalted to President Emeritus just a couple of hours after a vote to terminate him as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary failed by just two votes (15-17). 

Then, of course, it hits me. 

The trustee board is stacked with Patterson loyalists who seem so blinded by their allegiance to a man, they can’t see the serious sycophancy. Maybe the school’s stained-glass windows stunt clear optics for the trustees charged to ensure Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary takes no misteps.

Trustees almost fired Paige Patterson, then in the next breath they exalted him to President Emeritus. I’d say it’s unwise, but in the name of every current SWBTS administrator that Paige Patterson will eventually throw under the bus for the imminent financial collapse of Southwestern, I’m compelled to say it’s dangerous. There is hope for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but that requires the termination and removal of Paige Patterson from every position of leadership.

Read the rest here.

And now, if Burleson is right, it looks like Patterson tried to take boxes from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary archive.  Patterson was the president of Southeastern when he allegedly tried to cover-up a rape on campus.  Here is Burleson:

Dr. Patterson left Southeastern in the summer of 2003,  not long after the meeting in President Patterson’s office with the rape victim and three of Paige Patterson’s proteges. Dr. Patterson left to become President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

When Dr. Patterson went to Fort Worth, Texas, he took a man named Chris Thompson with him. Chris was Dr. Patterson’s Chief of Staff at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s a Paige Patterson loyalist. Chris is now a Southern Baptist pastor in North Carolina. Chris was interviewed by the Religious News Service this week regarding Dr. Paige Patterson’s removal promotion to President Emeritus.

“To retroactively punish him for remarks he made years ago is unfair,” said Chris Thompson, a pastor and former chief of staff for Patterson during his 10 years as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.“I don’t know any pastor, or public speaker for that matter, who would ever want to be subject to someone pulling an audiotape from some archive and having to answer for those words 18 years later. Who’s next, is really what my question would be.”Well, Chris, I’ll answer your question “Who’s next?”

It’s your turn.

(NOTE: I gave my personal cell number to Chris’s secretary and asked that he return my phone call. I would not post till Saturday to give him time to call me. Chris did not return my call).

“(I am) not happy (to say the least) with your actions and methods of securing  boxes from the archives.” Those are the words of Librarian Dr.  Shawn Madden in a letter to Dr. Paige Patterson after discovery the archives had been taken without permission from those responsible for them.

Shawn Madden provided me a copy of his letter. In addition, he sent me a copy of a letter written a few months after Patterson became President of SWBTS in July 2003. Dr. Madden gave me permission to publish it:

“Persons not associated with Southeastern entered our archives without informing myself nor my archivists and removed material that at that point was technically the possession of Southeastern Seminary and my responsibility for their security… My concern is that material from the President’s office was removed, material that is the possession of this institution and not of an individual. What is generated by the President of this institution is owned by this institution and ought not to have been removed, especially in the dark of night.” (Dr. Shawn Madden, a letter written in 2004)During the ensuing investigation, SEBTS Librarian Shawn C. Madden was told by Michael Lawson, who is currently the Chief of Security for SEBTS, that the archives were taken by Chris Thompson.

Yes, that Chris Thompson.

Dr. Michael Lawson informed Dr. Shawn Madden that Paige Patterson’s Chief of Staff came to North Carolina from Fort Worth and “removed the material” in the dark of night when the school was closed.

Again, read the entire post here.  The plot thickens.  And who said archivists who collect primary sources and historians who interpret them are unimportant?