Now available: Photographs from the James P. Brawley Collection

 Portrait of James P. Brawley, circa 1955

If you are on any of the Atlanta University Center campuses, you will probably know his name because a prominent promenade bearing his name runs right through the AUC (and right in front of the AUC Woodruff Library)! That’s right, it’s Dr. James P. Brawley, President of Clark College from 1941 to 1965. Photographs from the James P. Brawley Collection have been digitized, and are available in our Digital Commons.  The photographs feature events from the life of Brawley, scenes around Clark College, and images used in his teachings. Born in Lockhart, Texas in 1895, his vast education includes Samuel Huston College, University of Southern California, and Northwestern University, culminating in receiving his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago. During his scholarship, he taught at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi before moving to Atlanta for a job as head of the Department of Education and Religious Education at Clark College. There, he moved up the ladder to succeed Dr. M. S. Davage as President.

 James P. Brawley at UNCF banquet. Written on verso: Taken at the UNCF Banquet during the UNCF tribute to Dr. Brawley. L to R: Clarence Cooper, Ronald Jackson, Dr. Brawley, and Carl Ware, October 1984

As President of Clark College, Brawley oversaw the moving of the College to its current location near the other institutions of the Atlanta University Center. During his tenure as President, Brawley became a founding member of the United Negro College Fund, created a fundraising culture on campus, and saw several new buildings added to the campus. A few images in the collection are from a fundraiser featuring David W. Williams, an American attorney and judge. Williams was the first African-American federal judge west of the Mississippi, and known for overseeing 4,000 criminal cases that stemmed from the 1965 Watts riots. Also of note in the Collection are lantern slides of religious clergy, historical events and campus life, which Brawley most likely used in his classes. The images show his interest in Methodism and civil rights, reflecting current events of the time and his background in religious education.


A breakfast honoring California Judge David W. Williams. Left to Right: City Attorney Henry C. Bowden, Dr. James P. Brawley, Judge David W. Williams, and Dr. Benjamin Mays. circa 1974

In 1965, Brawley resigned and began his tenure as President Emeritus, serving as a fundraiser for the College. He also wrote the history of Clark College titled The Clark College Legacy: an Interpretive history of Relevant Education 1869-1975. The Clark College history was the second book written by Dr. Brawley, the first was titled Two Centuries of Methodist Concern: Bondage, Freedom and Education of Black People.

 Students stand in an entryway at Clark College, circa 1960

Outside of his work with Clark College, Brawley was an active member of the Methodist Church. He served on the President’s Council of the Methodist Board of Education as well as several boards, commissions and committees related to social action and concerns. Be sure to check out these historic images and we will be back soon with more collections! If you are interested in researching the papers of James P. Brawley, you can view the finding aid for more information. The Archives Research Center holds his history!



The Levi and Jewell Terrill collection is now available!

Hi everyone- time to introduce you to the Levi and Jewell Terrill collection. This couple has deep ties to Georgia and the history of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia (GMBCGA) and the National Baptist Convention USA (NBCUSA).

Levi and Jewell Terrill (left) in London, circa 1955 

Levi Maurice Terrill was born in Missouri on September 18, 1899. He came to Atlanta, Georgia in 1922 to enter Morehouse College, and practiced pharmacy at the old Gate City Drug Store in Atlanta to help with college expenses. He was ordained into the ministry in Athens, Georgia at the First Baptist Church, and preached around the area until he was called in 1943 to Zion Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia, staying there until his death in 1971. Aside from the active pastorate, he served as Vice President of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia for twenty years and as President from 1959 until his death. He was also the first Director of the Morehouse School of Religion for several years, and Professor of Baptist History and Polity at the Interdenominational Theological Center from 1953 to 1962. In 1969, Terrill was elected Vice President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. – a promotion from assistant secretary which was a position he held for many years.

Jewell Evelyn Middlebrooks was born March 4, 1907 in Griffin, Georgia and also baptized at an early age. She was a Normal student at Atlanta University where she graduated with a certificate; she then attended Savannah State College for one year. She married Levi Terrill in 1929, and had three children together. For twelve years she was the First Lady of the 500,000-member General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia, Inc. and established a strong record of service at a variety of Baptist organizations.

State Convention at Thankful, Augusta, 1929
The dining hall at Central City College in Macon, Georgia, circa 1910

Some interesting items in this collection relate to the organizations with which the Terrills were associated, documenting the various programs and associations of the GMBCGA. A bulk of the collection materials document the work of the GMBCGA and its previous presidents and directors, including C.C. Crawford, S. S. Broadnax, James H. Gadson, and D. A. Arnold. These materials contain a large amount of programs, reports and minutes of the numerous boards, auxiliaries, and associations associated with the GMBCGA. Of note in these materials are reports, land deeds, and correspondence relating to the creation and subsequent turmoil over the closing of Central City College in Macon, Georgia. This school was founded in October 1889 by the Reverend E. K. Love under the auspices of the Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia. It served as a co-educational institution of learning for African American students at high school and college levels. It was renamed Georgia Baptist College in 1938, but beset by financial woes, the school closed in 1956.

Dining Hall, Central City College, Macon, GA
The dining hall at Central City College in Macon, Georgia, circa 1910

The photographs within this collection document trips taken by the Reverend and Mrs. Terrill – notably one to London – as well as other images of buildings and people from the GMBCGA.  They are currently available through Digital Commons. You can find more information about the Terrills and the GMBCGA through the finding aid here. A few audio recordings found in the collection will soon be available, so be sure to check back on Digital Commons to see what’s new!

Spreading the Word about Spreading the Word!

Last week Andrea Jackson, Jessica Leming, and Christine Wiseman had the honor of talking about the grant and its progress to members of the HBCU Library Alliance. The fourteen collections were presented, along with the how the grant came to fruition, and how other institutions can investigate developing grant applications of their own. Want to hear more? Check out the recording here!

A screen shot of the presentation
A screen shot of the presentation

The Interdenominational Theological Center Photograph Collection is now available!

Researchers:  get ready to travel to the Interdenominational Theological Center’s (ITC) past through pictures! Student and faculty events, programs, and campus life are all captured in the ITC’s Photograph Collection, now digitized and available on Digital Commons. A part of our Spreading the Word project, this collection contains over 1,200 images from the 1880s through the 1970s. These images recount the history of the ITC and associated denominational schools and its seminaries:

Students play badminton outside of Bowen Hall, circa 1950
  • Gammon (United Methodist Church)
  • Morehouse School of Religion (Baptist)
  • Mason (Church of God in Christ)
  • Phillips (Christian Methodist Episcopal)
  • Turner (African Methodist Episcopal)

Researchers can tour the old Gammon Theological Seminary campus through the images of Bowen Hall, Gammon Hall, Gilbert Haven Memorial Library, Thirkield Hall and the Gammon presidential residence where Dr. Harry V. Richardson lived.

Dr. Harry V. Richardson at his desk, circa 1959

Richardson was a primary figure in establishing the ITC and became the Center’s first president. The collection contains multiple images taken during Richardson’s tenure at Gammon and ITC. Through these images, researchers can follow Richardson and his wife Selma to dinners, board meetings, classrooms, and rural America to get a sense of his life and responsibilities.

Along with Dr. Harry V. Richardson are images of other past ITC presidents including Dr. Oswald P. Bronson, Dr. Grant S. Shockley, Dr. J. Deotis Roberts and Dr. James H. Costen. You will also find photographs of prominent past chairmen of ITC’s Board of Trustees such as Dr. Ernest Cadman Cowell (first chairman), Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Dr. Benjamin E. Mays. Richardson credits Dr. Mays’ “tenacity” with helping to make the vision of ITC a reality.

itc first faculty
First Faculty of the ITC, circa 1964
Morehouse College reunion featuring Drs. Benjamin Mays, Levi Terrill, and Martin Luther King, Jr., circa 1957

Dr. Mays moved the Morehouse School of Religion – then located on the campus of Morehouse College – to become a part of ITC. Photographs of Morehouse School of Religion director, Dr. Levi Terrill and his wife, Jewel Terrill, can be found in the collection. Dr. Terrill, in one image, is seen standing beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Mays in front of a Morehouse College banner. Dr. Terrill was the long time pastor of the Zion Hill Baptist Church of Atlanta, GA, and prominent within the Georgia Missionary Baptist Convention and the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Inc. (the Levi and Jewell Terrill Collection is also a part of the Spreading the Word project.) The Turner School of Theology director, Dr. J.R. Coan, can also be seen in photographs giving lectures to students, along with other ITC instructors. ITC Professors Dr. Gayraud Wilmore, Dr. Charles B. Copher, and Dr. Isaac R. Clark are also shown giving lectures, participating in faculty meetings and program and events.

Finally, there are a host of photographs taken of students participating in campus life. Whether inside their housing units, the ITC dining hall, on the lawn, or in the classroom, researchers will get a glimpse into the life of the student, particularly in the 1940s through the 1970s. Images of students studying in the ITC library, singing in the chapel choir and participating in picnics are all a part of the exhaustive collection of photographs. We hope you will soon explore this photograph collection that illuminates the rich history of the Interdenominational Theological Center. For further information on the ITC, take a look at the finding aid as well as the audio recordings created at the ITC. Until the next time, happy researching!

NEH interviews the Spreading the Word project team!

The National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access recently highlighted the work of the Spreading the Word project on their featured projects page. Check out the interview to learn more details about the current work and the collections!

NEH Logo

blog pix


Highlighting the work of Isaac Clark

Dr. Isaac R. Clark recording his lecture to students, circa 1960. Photo from the ITC Audio Visual collection, available at:

Isaac Rufus Clark believed preaching was essential to the African American experience. This systematic theology and homiletics master with a colorful personality taught 28 years at the Interdenominational Theological Center on the substance and methods of preaching.  We here at the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library Archives are pleased to highlight the Isaac R. Clark Memorial Collection.

Clark was the son of Reverend and Mrs. James H. Clark of New Castle, Pennsylvania. His wife, Dr. Betty Clark, was also of New Castle. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the United States Navy during World War II, and soon after being honorably discharged, he attended Wilberforce University where he received a Bachelor of Arts. Clark also received a Bachelor of Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary and later received his Ph.D. in Theology from Boston University. Read his and his wife’s biographical sketches found in the manuscript collection.

Dr. Isaac R. Clark (center), Dr. Harry V. Richardson (second from left), and students outside of the ITC classroom building. Matriculation Day, October 9th, 1962. Photo from the ITC Audio Visual collection, available at:

Within this collection you will find manuscripts produced by Dr. Clark during his time as Homiletics Professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center, including his class syllabi and lecture outlines. Quotes from the lecture outlines reveal the rich personality of Dr. Clark. When mentioning fresh ITC seminary graduates eager to display their new knowledge he states, “They’re often puking undigested knowledge on folks rather than creatively using their internalized knowledge.”

A 1/4 inch audio tape format used widely in the mid 20th century. This is the original format of the Clark audio materials prior to digitization.

Researchers may receive other glimpses of his personality when listening to the accompanying audio recordings that are also a part of the collection and can be accessed through the Atlanta University Center Digital Commons platform. While listening to the audio, patrons are sure to hear the colorful language and examples Dr. Clark used during his homiletics class sessions. Listeners will often hear Dr. Clark refer students to the preaching manual he authored. This fifty eight page manual titled “Principles for Preparing and Delivering Sermons” is located within the collection and emphasizes the essential elements of preaching. The proposition (as an essential element) is emphasized by Dr. Clark’s statement “If you ain’t got ‘no proposition,’ then you ain’t got ‘no sermon!” His personality and teaching style comes out in recordings such as: “Theological Definition of Preaching“and “Basic Christian Communication.

The Isaac R. Clark Memorial Collection contains not only materials relating to preaching; other materials, including writings by Dr. Clark, his students, and faculty of Interdenominational Theological Center such as Dr. Charles B. Copher, are also found within the holdings. Printed materials inside the collection include “Trends in Theology” by Professor L. Berkhof, The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and other African Methodist Episcopal Church material. Interdenominational Theological Center chapel service programs – including the twenty fifth silver anniversary charter day celebration – also document events at the institution. We are pleased to preserve and make accessible this rich collection at the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library Archives Research Center.  Until our next Spreading the Word project update we hope you will check out this collection! Access the finding aid for the manuscript collection, listen to the audio recordings of Isaac Clark, his students and other lecturers, and enjoy this dynamic professor’s work.

The 2016 C. Eric Lincoln Lecture Series video is now available

Dr. Rev. Pamela Lightsey delivering the 34th annual C. Eric Lincoln Lecture

Missed the widely renowned lecture series this year? Well look no further, the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library’s Digital Commons has it online for you. This year’s lecture featured Dr. Rev. Pamela Lightsey, an Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology and Practice and Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning at Boston University, and a scholar, social justice activist and veteran.

In this 34th annual C. Eric Lincoln Lecture, Dr. Lightsey presents her lecture titled, “Root Workers in an Incessant Social Media Democracy”. She ruminates on racial identity from the vantage point of a theologian, shaped within the context of the Black radical tradition, critiquing the systems of racism and discrimination. It is a fascinating lecture that focuses on relevant contemporary issues such as the Black  Lives Matter movement and police violence. You can find the lecture here.  Check it out!

C. Eric Lincoln Lecture Series Materials Available (and Online!)

Hello again! We’re still busy working on the fourteen collections of the Spreading the Word project. As promised we’re back to share with you some of our findings! This time we are featuring the C. Eric Lincoln Lecture Series collection. Lincoln was a distinguished scholar, writer and lecturer on the Sociology of Black Religion, and Race and Ethnic Relations in the United States. He authored the seminal text, The Black Church in the African-American Experience, and was one of the first to research and publish on Black Muslims. The lecture series is hosted by Clark Atlanta University’s Department of Religion and Philosophy and features speakers who are prominent in the fields of religion and sociology.  Within the collection are correspondences, descriptions of lecture events, and the biographies and lecture manuscripts of C. Eric Lincoln and other notable lecturers and panelists including John Hope Franklin and Asa Hilliard. Corresponding with the printed materials are photographs and several video and audio recordings that we are proud to make available to you via the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library’s DigitalCommons platform.

Inaugural address with lecture series materials, 1984.

One C. Eric Lincoln Lecture Series video from 1983 highlights the inaugural ceremony. It illustrates an illustrious ceremony including former CAU president Elias Blake, former Howard University School of Divinity president Lawrence N. Jones, author of Roots, Alex Haley and of course, C. Eric Lincoln. As the audience listens, Lincoln delivers the first ever lecture at CAU in his honor titled “Human Values and Human Systems” where he tackles moral crisis’s arising out of value conflicts within societies – a rich source for ethical thought.  A physical transcript of this lecture is located within the collection, as well as Asa Hilliard’s lecture on the African origins of civilization and scholar John Hope Franklin’s lecture on George Washington Williams – an American Civil War soldier and writer on African American history. In Franklin’s lecture, he also references Belgium King Leopold’s relationship to the African Congo and makes mention of the Indianapolis Freemans newspaper. Videos of both Hilliard and Franklin are available in this collection, and you can also find audio-visual materials from the Asa J. Hilliard, III Collection here.

C. Eric Lincoln talks with lecture series participants, 1995.

The collection also features correspondences where John Hope Franklin, American
historian and author, dialogues with Dr. Love Henry Whelchel, pastor and professor of Church History at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Other letters include those between Dr. Whelchel and C. Eric Lincoln, prominent preacher, Gardner Taylor, and Civil Rights activist and preacher, Rev. Hosea Williams. These correspondences discuss donations to the series and also its events.

Finally, biographical sketches of lecture series participants are in the collection, including Asa Hilliard and Jacquelyn Grant, a theologian, author, ITC professor, and one of the developers of womanist theology. The most notable sketch is that of C. Eric Lincoln, which reveals his birthplace as Athens, Alabama. It further highlights Lincoln’s high school, undergraduate, and graduate education. His biography also outlines his professional career including the 9 books and over one hundred journals he authored, among them “Black Muslims in America”, and “The Black Church in the African American Experience’.

Dr. Shayne Lee delivers his keynote lecture, “They Preachin! – Aw, Made You Look: The Black Church in the 21st Century” during the 26th annual lecture in 2008.

The C. Eric Lincoln Lecture series has become a staple at Clark Atlanta University and is held every year on the CAU campus. For an understanding of this event, the man it honors, and for the wealth of knowledge it contains on ethics, society and the African American Church, it is highly recommended that interested patrons take a look at this collection!  Additionally, the AUC Woodruff Library is the proud repository of the rich C. Eric Lincoln Collection documenting his life, career, and research.

The finding aid is available for you to view here.  View the photographs, and watch and listen to the lectures through DigitalCommons here.

Well that’s all for now. See you next time!

Hercules Wilson collection now available!

Reverend Hercules Wilson

Spreading the Word has another collection for you!  His name was Hercules Wilson (April 13, 1883-February, 1978) a native of Darien, McIntosh County, Georgia and a prominent African American minister within the Presbyterian Church. Spanning the years from 1928-1971, the collection mostly consists of short handwritten sermons that express Rev. Wilson’s theology from the 1930s through 1970 – nearly 40 years of theological thought!  Additionally in the collection are correspondences between Wilson and classmates as well as Westminster Presbyterian Church financial records spanning between 1940’s to 1950’s.

Reverend  Wilson received his theological education from Biddle University (now known as Johnson C. Smith University/Seminary). This University was established by the Presbyterian Church North’s General Assembly’s Committee on Freedmen. The Presbyterian Church North established this committee in response to the educational and worship needs of freed slaves. These freedmen, denied equal worship in white Presbyterian churches, saw the need to establish their own places of worship. Biddle University was a response to that need and was founded for the expressed purpose of “training of colored preachers, catechists and teachers of their own race to lead those places of worship”.

At Biddle, Reverend Wilson earned the degree of Bachelor of Systematic Theology. His theological education is on display in sermons within the collection where he preaches on theological topics such as creation, revelation, salvation, sin, morality, Christian living and the nature of Jesus. The sermons eloquently relate these theological themes to the problems and issues of the time. During the production of these sermons, America was engaged in the conflict of World War II, experiencing the great depression and heightened racism and segregation. In a sermon from 1942 concerning love, mercy, and humility Rev.

Elements of True Religion and The New Birth, 1928-1929

Wilson calls for a practical Christianity to confront the “vital issues” of the time. In this sermon he is critical of the Presbyterian Church and the church in general, particularly for their silence on the issue of race. From the U.S. Senate’s act of filibustering a bill to eliminate the Poll tax (a bill affecting many Blacks in certain states) to the lynching of Black boys, Wilson rebukes the church for its silence. He challenges Church leaders to awaken from their silence and cautions against falling back on the authority of the church fathers of old. He informs that revelation did not end with the church fathers or the prophets and speaks against once and for all revelation.  Wilson’s claim is God’s will must be learned fresh and new in the present time. In this sermon and others, he fully displays his theological and hermeneutical skills.

The finding aid for the Hercules Wilson materials can be found here. This collection is great for the researcher interested in culture, hermeneutics, homiletics, history and theology. A study of the sermons within the collection gives valuable insight into the culture within a period of American and World history from the perspective of an African American Presbyterian minister. Just some of the reasons you should check out this and the 13 other collections that are a part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library Spreading the Word project!