Southwestern archives awarded for preservation of Baptist history
Southwestern Seminary’s J.T. and Zelma Luther Archives and Special Collections was recognized for its contribution to the preservation of Baptist history during an award ceremony, May 24, at Baylor University. The Association of Librarians and Archivists at Baptist Institutions alongside the Baptist History and Heritage Society awarded the Southwestern archives with the Davis C. Woolley Award for Outstanding Achievement in Assessing and Preserving Baptist History.
This award was established in 1991 in honor of Davis C. Woolley, the second executive secretary-treasurer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Historical Commission. The annual award recognizes the creativity and excellence of an individual, institution or program’s work to preserve Baptist history.
“Receiving this award is a verification of the professional quality of service that the Southwestern J.T. and Zelma Luther Archives seeks to deliver,” says Craig Kubic, dean of libraries at Southwestern. “Our professional archivists are passionate to pursue every opportunity to collect and preserve the dynamic history of our seminary and Southern Baptists in Texas. We are grateful for this achievement by our staff and the recognition it brings to the collection. The acknowledgement given by peers is the greatest mark of accomplishment. We are grateful to the organization for this privilege.”
The J.T. and Zelma Luther Archives contain more than 500,000 historical artifacts concerning Southwestern as well as other notable Baptist documents. Recently added items include Adrian Rogers’ personal library and papers, a sermon collection of former Southwestern president Robert Naylor, and personal papers and artifacts of evangelist Rodney “Gipsy” Smith.
Jill Botticelli, archivist and special collections librarian, says the most substantial addition to the archives in 2015 was the collection of Rogers’ personal library and papers. This acquisition includes books, papers and personal artifacts donated by the family of Adrian Rogers, a three-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention who served as senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., for more than 30 years. The collection is currently displayed in the entry of the archives and features a replica of Rogers’ home study and library. “This addition is significant because it serves as a visual representation of the SBC Conservative Resurgence Collection we are currently in the process of developing,” Botticelli explains.
In addition to the archives’ recent additions, they have coordinated with the digital resources department to improve free online access. Much of the archived materials are available to not only scholars and researchers, but the general public. Through the digital archives component of the library’s website, one can find resources and documents containing Baptist history and heritage unique to the Southwestern archives.
“Receiving this award shows that we are succeeding in our field and making contributions to our field and to the area of Baptist history,” Botticelli says. “We are proud of the amount of work we put into these projects.”
To learn more about the archives and to explore the various resources it has to offer, visit swbts.edu/library.