Collection Highlights

by Jeremy M. Brown last modified 2016-04-28T16:30:16-04:00

Special Collections has as its focus Mercer University history and Baptist life in Georgia. More specific information about some of our collections and how best to use them follows.


Southern Baptist Convention

Southern Baptist Convention annuals have been published since 1845, noting SBC meetings and business; state convention, association, and church statistics; and occasional ordinations and obituaries of ministers for that year.

  • Earlier years may include photographs of ministers and churches.
  • A card file in the archives documents the names, ordinations, obituaries, and photographs of Georgia ministers found in SBC annuals for the late 1800s and early 1900s.
  • Published SBC histories and encyclopedias may be found via the library's catalog. Statistical information on Baptist churches may be found in titles such as Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches and the Bureau of the Census’ Religious Bodies.
  • Baptist History and Heritage, a journal of the Southern Baptist Historical Commission and the Baptist History and Heritage Society, includes research on a variety of Baptist leaders and institutions. Each volume has been indexed, and a cumulative index covering 1965-1985 was published in October 1985.
  • Quarterly Review: A Survey of Southern Baptist Progress, published by the Baptist Sunday School Board of the SBC from 1941 - 1990, includes historical and biographical sketches related to the SBC. These articles are accessible through the table of contents of this quarterly serial.
  • Various Baptist news magazines are held in the archives. The Southern Baptist Periodical Index, located in the reference collection of the library, leads to articles in many of these publications.
  • The department tries to maintain five years' worth of print annuals and newspapers for the Baptist conventions of other states, primarily in the Southeast. The professional Baptist history journal for the state of Alabama has also been acquired in its entirety as it has been published. Kentucky’s Western Recorder index has been acquired each year since 1984. All of these may be located through the catalog.
  • Special Collections has microform and pamphlets related to SBC history, accessible through an unpublished print index of as-yet uncataloged materials. Biographical materials related to SBC leaders may also be found in the biographical vertical files, manuscript letters, and personal papers, all of which are indexed in unpublished forms.
  • A few folders of miscellaneous materials related to the SBC are in a vertical file. Several panoramic photographs of SBC gatherings are in a separate photograph collection.

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Georgia Baptist Convention

  • Since its creation in 1822, The Georgia Baptist Convention has published annuals containing business of the Convention, statistics related to churches and associations, lists of ministers, documentation of ordinations and obituaries, and occasionally, photographs of Convention leaders. This information is indexed in an unpublished card catalog. Availability: print and microfilm.
  • These as well as published histories and encyclopedias of the Georgia Baptist Convention can be located through Tarver Library's catalog, using search term "Georgia Baptist Convention".

A professional journal, Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History, has been published biannually by the Georgia Baptist Historical Society since 1968. Cumulative indexes have been published for volumes 1-5, 6-10, and 11-13; and volumes 14-16 were indexed separately. This journal is indexed in Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life. Issues of Viewpoints are available in print, on microfiche, and on microfilm.

The earliest Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Committee minutes are held in manuscript and/or typescript form. Microform and pamphlets related to Georgia Baptist Convention history which are not accessible through the library's catalog may be located through a print index of uncataloged materials located in the Depository. Vertical files exist which give order to miscellaneous uncataloged materials related to the Convention at large.

A small number of photographs of Georgia Baptist Convention gatherings is in a separate photograph collection. Some of these document Georgia Baptist Convention events which were held at Mercer University.

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Other Georgia Baptist Conventions


  • Unfortunately, we have no records for:
    -Georgia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, existed 1937-1960
    -The Georgia Baptist Missionary Convention, based in Macon, 1960-present
    -The New Era Missionary Baptist Convention, based in Atlanta, 1961-present

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Published Histories of Non-Georgia Baptist Convention Organizations

 

These may be searched in the Tarver Library catalog by following the links below:

 

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The Christian Index

  • Since 1822, The Columbian Star/The Christian Index has been in constant publication, making it the oldest continuing denominational publication in the United States. This weekly Baptist newspaper publishes news related to Baptist work on the local, state, national, and international levels, including biographical, church, association, institutional, and Convention information. In early years, it included a significant amount of news from non-Convention Georgia Baptists, as well as many advertisements (even for the cure of cancer!) and much secular news.
  • On-site, unpublished card indexes have been developed, documenting information from the beginning of publication into the early 1980s. Separate published indexes cover obituaries and marriages.

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Georgia Baptist Associations

The Georgia Baptist History Depository has made a concerted effort to acquire association minutes from allGeorgia Baptist associations, including Primitive, Progressive Primitive, Free Will, Holiness, non-Georgia Baptist Convention, and African-American, as well as Georgia Baptist Convention associations. These publications include minutes of annual meetings, statistical tables of cooperating churches, lists of ministers, obituaries, and occasional sketches of individual ministers and churches. A comprehensive PDF index of the Depository’s holdings of association minutes is located here.  An important appendix to this index is a list of all known Georgia Baptist associations by type, with notations as to whether or not the Depository owns copies of minutes from these groups.

  • All of the collection’s published association histories are accessible through the library's catalog using the keyword search term "<insert name here> baptist association".
  • The earliest published information on Georgia Baptist associations is in John Asplund’s Annual Register of the Baptist Denomination, 1790 (April 1792).
  • David Benedict published A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World in 1813, and a second edition in 1848. By 1848, the chapter on Georgia was thirty-two pages long and included information on over forty associations. The list of associations includes those in cooperation with the Georgia Baptist Convention, as well as Primitive and Free Will (United) associations. Information is also given for African-American churches within the Savannah Baptist Association.
  • The Latter Day Luminary, a serial published by Luther Rice between 1818 and 1825, printed annual charts of associations by states. The Georgia Baptist Convention was begun in 1822; and some of the associations which were listed cooperated with this larger body. Along with the associations’ names, statistical information related to church membership was published; and often clerks’ names and locations of upcoming association meetings were noted.
  • After the demise of The Latter Day LuminaryThe Baptist Missionary Magazine began to publish similar charts and information.
  • Ira Allen published The United States Baptist Annual Register and Almanac in 1833, and The Triennial Baptist Register. No. 2.-1836, both of which listed associations and names of churches by states. By this time, Primitive Baptist associations had formed; and an effort was made to include them in these two books.
  • The Baptist Almanac and Annual Register/American Baptist Yearbook, also known by several other names, tried to be comprehensive in its annual listings of associations and statistical charts from the early 1840s throughout the rest of the century.
  • In 1846, the minutes of the Georgia Baptist Convention began to include listings of churches and associations throughout the state. In the early years, these lists encompassed associations other than those cooperating with the Convention, as well.
  • In 1853, the American Baptist Publication Society published The American Baptist Register for 1852, edited by J. Lansing Burrows. Information on mainline, Free Will, and Primitive Baptist churches and associations was organized by states. Tables included church name, constitution date, pastor, number of baptisms, and number of members. A separate listing notes names and residences of ministers in each state.

 

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Georgia Baptist Churches

  • The Depository currently has access to over 350 individual church records on microfilm.  The Depository plays an active role in encouraging churches to have their records microfilmed. A comprehensive inventory of the holdings of church records is available in the Church Records PDF.
  • All of the collection’s published church histories and association histories which include historical sketches of churches are accessible through the library's catalog using the keyword search term "<insert name here> baptist church" or "<insert name here> baptist association".
  • Information concerning individual churches is located in the Convention annuals (names of churches by association, statistical tables, and current church addresses) and the association minutes (statistical tables, names of church leaders, church participation in association business). Frequently, published county and city histories include sketches of churches. These histories can be located through the library's catalog.
  • Card indexes have been created for both white and African-American churches.  Church constituting dates, alternate church names, and changes in county and association affiliations are often indicated.

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Biographical Information

  • Our biographical information falls into two general categoties:
    -Mercer students, faculty, and trustees.  
    -Georgia baptist ministers and other Georgia baptist leaders.
  • Published biographies are available via the library's catalog by searching for the subject's name.
  • We create and maintain thousands of biographical files on individuals include items such as newspaper/magazine clippings, biographical sketches photocopied from a variety of sources, manuscripts of sketches which were later published, and occasional manuscript or typed letters.
  • Contact us via Ask an Archivist with questions about a particular individual.

 

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Mercer University

  • We maintain an extensive collection of subject files pertaining to Mercer University.  Specific sports teams (baseball, 1906), campus organizations (the Ciceronian literary society), and campus building (Ware Hall) histories are examples of the types of information contained in these files.
  • Campus publications are excellent resources for Mercer subject matter, especially aspects of student life.  These publications include:
    -The Mercerian, the alumni publication
    -The Kinetoscope, an early yearbook
    -The Cauldron, the later yearbook
    -The Silhouette
    -The Mercer Cluster, the student newspaper
    -The Plucked Dulcimer, the literary magazine
  • Presidential papers of Rufus Weaver, Rufus Harris, Spright Dowell, William Heard Kilpatrick, and Kirby Godsey (inventory incomplete) are held in our collection.

 

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Mercer University Press/Smyth & Helwys Publishing Company

  • Mercer University Press, created in 1979, has regularly provided the library with archival copies of its publications. Currently the Press offers the Depository an archival copy and a research copy of each title.
  • Smyth & Helwys, a new publishing company formed in 1990, furnishes the Depository with a research copy of each new book. Original copies of Smyth & Helwys contracts with authors are also preserved in Special Collections.

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Tift College

  • In the early 1990s, Mercer University acquired the archives of Tift College. This women’s college was founded in 1849 as Forsyth Female Collegiate Institute and later named Monroe Female College, Bessie Tift College, and Tift College.
  • Student and alumnae publications, such as ChiaroscuroBessie Tift Alumnae BulletinCampus QuillTift CornerstoneTift College Ponderings, andTift Today, provide an intimate view of the college and its activities.
  • The collection has been organized into biographical files on students and faculty, and subject files on student life, buildings, and other aspects of the college, itself.
  • A published history of Tift and a number of Tift Historiography Papers (which were written to fulfill History class assignments) are accessible through the library's catalog.

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Other Georgia Baptist Educational Institutions

  • Various manuscript and microfiche records held in the Depository have been inventoried for various Baptist Educational Institutions.  Our holdings for these may be searched here.

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Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

This national Baptist organization was formed in 1990, and Mercer’s offer to develop its archival collection was accepted shortly thereafter. Personal papers have been acquired from Oeita Bottorff, Larry McSwain, John Hewett, Patricia Ayres, and Duke McCall. Files of clippings related to the early evolution of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have also been developed. Photographs and video tapes are available for Convocations and General Assemblies. An effort will be made in the next year to acquire a comprehensive set of Coordinating Council and committee minutes for the first five years. The history of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has been recorded in Baptists Today (formerly SBC Today), which has been in print since 1983. The Depository has a complete set both in print and on microfilm. Fellowship News has been in publication since 1991, and it is preserved in print.

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Georgia Baptist Historical Society

In 1990, a history of the Georgia Baptist Historical Society was published in Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History. The materials collected for this research, plus others generated since 1990, have been placed in the Depository. Included are minutes of the Executive Committee; correspondence; printed programs; samples of manuscripts and page proofs of articles published in Viewpoints, as well as books published by the Society; notes of telephone conversations; and photographs. The order of these materials is chronological, and then topical.

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Albert H. Newman--A Special Collection

  • In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Albert H. Newman, world renowned church historian, received four $250 installment payments for his personal library. Newman, a Mercer graduate, returned to the University to teach from 1921 to 1927. Accession records indicate that the books numbered in the hundreds, the oldest having been printed in 1497. Many of these volumes were written in Latin, Greek, French, German, and Old English, making them useful to only the most serious linguists and church historians. Newman’s collection is available via the library's catalog. The University also has a collection of letters written both by and to Dr. Newman from 1926 until shortly before his death in 1933.