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!

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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: digitalcommons.auctr.edu/itcimg/893/

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: digitalcommons.auctr.edu/itcimg/605/

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!

Next steps: Digitization!

We are keeping busy here, digitizing photographs and making them accessible via the Library’s Digital Commons. Another large part of the Spreading the Word project is digitizing the audio and video materials that are part of the C. Eric Lincoln Lecture Series, C. Eric Lincoln, Bishop J. Howard Dell, Issac R. Clark Memorial, Martin Luther King Fellows in Black Religious Studies, Inc., and the Society for the Study of Black Religion Collections.

Some of the many formats of video tape like those found in the Spreading the Word project.

Magnetic tape – of which audio and video tape is comprised – is not considered a good long-term storage medium for archival material. The main concern with magnetic tape is instability of the binder (which holds the content), and the rapid obsolescence of the equipment. Video has had over 56 formats since its creation in the 1950s; that means you would need a different machine for each of these formats to play! Many of these formats have been superseded and working equipment is rare or no longer available. To top it off, these machines must be well-maintained so as to not damage the tape as it is playing and to produce the best quality transfer possible. This is why we chose to outsource the digitization of these special formats to a local company, Crawford Media Services.


Digitization studio – Multiple videotapes can be digitized and monitored for quality assurance at this station. Playback decks can be seen in the background. The videos from the J. Howard Dell and C. Eric Lincoln collections were digitized here.

Crawford Media Services provides “end-to-end creative and post production services, including solutions for mass migration of legacy content to digital formats, storage and archiving, media asset management, and e-commerce enabled on-line publishing”. They have acquired and maintained a large collection of legacy professional playback decks and systems which were necessary for the varied formats in the project’s collections. We delivered over 1,300 audio and video tapes of various formats to Crawford in January, and just recently picked them back up with the tapes cleaned, repaired (when  necessary), and digitized, along with three RAID array hard drives which contain the digital content that will be backed up on a server and made available via digital commons. We are excited to begin reviewing these materials and to share them with you! Here are a few images of the equipment at Crawford used to digitize magnetic media:

Occasionally video tapes get dirty from poor storage environments. Machines such as these are used to clean the tape surface to ensure best playback possible.


Otari MTR-12 and MX-55 machines used to digitize 1/4 inch audiotape containing lectures and sermons from the Issac R. Clark Memorial collection.



A large inventory of playback decks are on hand in case a machine breaks or needs parts. Like many tape formats, these machines are no longer manufactured.



The Crawford cat. Mascot and Chief Security Officer  🙂


Announcing the Anna E. Hall collection

It’s time for another look inside the 14 collections that are a part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library’s NEH sponsored Spreading the Word project. This collection illustrates the life of a phenomenal African American woman.

anna hall portrait
Anna E. “Mamma” Hall

“Not for ourselves, but for others” was her motto. Anna E. Hall, affectionately known as “Mamma Hall”, was a Methodist pioneer. This tall, stately woman born in Bainbridge, GA in 1870 and raised by a single mother, helped to pave the way for African American women in missionary work and the Christianization of Liberia. A graduate of Clark University (now Clark Atlanta University), Hall became the first African American woman to attend the New England Deaconess Training School in Boston Massachusetts. She would later become a lead missionary in Liberia for 25 years.

hall_mission school students
Mission School class. Garraway, Liberia, West Africa

Inside the Anna E. Hall collection scholars can view correspondence to Miss Anna E. Hall and other writings dating her arrival in Liberia to 1906. These writings express the love and trust she received from her students and the community. Exemplifying this trust, a mother writes to Miss Hall revealing that she bore a child out of wedlock with a Methodist minister, and has never revealed his name to anyone besides her. There are also several correspondences within the collection from the Liberian community, including former students and ministers expressing their friendship and prayers to Mamma Hall. Government correspondences and invitations from Liberia (including a 1956 invitation to the presidential inauguration and ball) illustrate her significance in the country.

Order for the dedication of the Anna E. Hall Dormitory

Finally the collection includes Gammon Theological Seminary’s 1954 and 1963 publications of its magazine, The Foundation which references the naming of a dormitory in Anna E. Hall’s honor. The magazine also describes how Mamma Hall would rarely miss Chapel services. Within these magazines are images and information related to the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA) past presidents, students and faculty.
The Anna E. Hall collection with its many photographs, publications and writings is another rich source for African, African American, Methodist and Georgia history. The collection is also a valuable source of research about women in ministry and missionary work. The AUC Woodruff Library is excited to have the collection of this phenomenal woman. Follow this link to view the finding aid: http://findingaid.auctr.edu/arc/view?docId=ead/auctr.edu/anna_hall.xml

The photographs within this collection have been scanned and will be made accessible to the public in the near future. We hope you will continue to follow our progress as we continue to update our findings within the 14 collections that are a part of the Spreading the Word project. See ya’ll next time!