Stone-Campbell Journal Conference Comes to Town

This past week was quite busy for the library staff! On April 6th and 7th, the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference was held at Milligan College for the first time in its 17 year history. The occasion provided an excellent venue for the re-opening of the Helsabeck Archives of the Stone-Campbell Movement (SCM). In preparation for the event, former Theological Librarian John Mark Wade, Archives Intern Katherine Banks, College Archivist Lindsay Kenderes, and myself (Theological Librarian David Kiger) organized the third floor of the Seminary Library to house a display honoring the legacy of preaching in the Stone-Campbell Movement. We displayed the saddlebag of Dennis Helsabeck Sr.’s father, several books that focus on preaching in the SCM, a video of Marshall Leggett acting as Barton Stone, as well as many photos from our collection.

The Helsabeck Archives were moved to the third floor of Seminary Library in early 2017, but were not set up in a way that made them accessible for researchers. Through the generous donation (of time and shelving units) from John Mark Wade, we were able to store and organize many of the unprocessed boxes in a secure part of the archives. This move created space to set up a display of pictures, books, and more. Perhaps more importantly, we were able to use the available space to create room for scholars to use the archives as a research location.

The Thursday before the conference, Dr. Loretta Hunnicutt of Pepperdine University came to the Helsabeck Archives to research for her book project on the history of women’s leadership in the Stone-Campbell Movement. By accessing our online catalog she was able to locate several books and journals that were relevant to her research. She sent a bibliography of works that she would like to use prior to her visit and we had these sources ready for her upon her arrival. While the books were important, what truly impressed Dr. Hunnicutt was our collection of vertical files. The Helsabeck Archives houses 40 vertical files with a wide assortment of papers, unpublished manuscripts, correspondences and missionary newsletters. It was from this collection that Dr. Hunnicutt discovered a 1,500 page autobiography from Maude Whitmore Madden, a missionary to Japan for 43 years. This rich resource was a delight to Professor Hunnicutt and directly related to her research. At the end of her time she said that the Helsabeck Archives is the best collection of Christian Church/Churches of Christ materials she had come across.

The fun did not stop with Dr. Hunnicutt’s visit. On the first evening of the conference there was a tour of the Helsabeck Archives. Around 30 people were present for the tour, and all left with the knowledge that there is a lot of primary source research to be done here. Many people were impressed with the quality of the archives and the potential for innovative research it presents.

Our goals for the archives going forward are to create finding aids and contents lists for our vertical files, to process more of our Dean E. Walker collection, and to work toward building a more robust online presence with digitization. We would also love to see classes on Stone-Campbell history come and use our archives for class sessions, research, and more.