My first formal introduction to the ABHS

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My first formal introduction to the ABHS

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:47 pm

For the uninitiated; the ABHS is the American Baptist Historical society. Last week some one on one of these BL.C boards resurfaced that old saw about there not being any thing such as a free lunch . Well on Friday Trudy and about 20 others from ABCNYS and I, received a free lunch and the oportunity to hear Dr. Deborah Van Broekhoven Executive Director of the American Baptist Historical society. After a brief introduction Dr. Broekoven ran a CD of the official opening of the
ABHS Archives as it is now housed at the Atlanta Campus of Mercer University. And she is the person who keeps it running. You may see the video by going to the ABHS web site at Some of the CBF and SBC folk and a few other ABCers will recognize the first speaker as Bill Underwood the President of Mercer, although he is not identified in the video . Trudy and I along with Bruce and I think Neil where present at a Mercer Preaching Consultation on St Simmons Island when President Underwood made the first public announcement of the then pending move of the ABC Historical archives from their two site, Rochester- Genesee Seminary in Upstate NY and the ABC HQ building at Vally Forge PA. As he says in the Video the ABC's Collection is the largest single collection of Baptist historical items in the world. Another familiar face to those of us here in the NE was that of Allan Abbott the former ex Minister of the Vermont / New Hampshire ABC region. Allen is now working with the ABC MMB the retirement board of ABC which also covers many in CBF and several other entities, even some outside of Baptist life. Allan was finishing up his Doctorate when I was at Southern in the early 90s. And he recently made a report on MMB at the CBF Assembly in Charlotte. Working with retirees from many areas of the US gives him a unique opportunity to encourage those folk to search their personal papers and books for material that may enhance the ABHS collections. Deborah (she said I could call her by her first name since) " you are on a first name basis with Bruce Gourley" :wink: It is sort of neat that she a Native of the NE and Ex Director of of ABHS now lives and works in Atlanta at Mercer while Bruce a Mercer Undergrad and still connected with that institution's Baptist Studies program, is Ex Director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society which is as she says remnant of the old SBC Historical society and he lives in Montana.

If you have a genuine interest in Baptist History check out the ABHS website At in addition to some great short stories they provide several links to other great resources. Before lunch Dr. Van Broekhoven handed me a photo copy of a journal kept by a rev GROSE in 1854 & 55 recounting his movements in and around Albany County NY. Parts of the area that he traveled are now in Schenectady, Washington and Rensselaer counties. There was an entry that on on the 15th of May 1855 he visited with Rev. Josiah Peck at Clifton Park. It happens that two of Rev. Pecks great grand Daughters are members of the Burnt Hills Church where Trudy now pastors. Back when they where teens Burnt Hills had a much more active youth program than what their Grandfather had at Clifton park. Alas it is now the other way around. At one point Clifton Park was a mission of Burnt Hills. One of the Peck Girls (Sue) and her husband Dan live in the old peck homestead we where treated to a meal there on one of our interview trips with the BH Search committee. Deborah had brought this historic Journal her because she plans to do some additional research on it before retuning to Atlanta.

Rev. Grose also made mention several times of having visited the seminary on a given day but "the seminary" is not named, and at first I thought of Rochester but it was a three and 1/2 hour drive one way for us with most of it on interstate. Then I recalled that in that time many college preparatory where called seminaries ( hot houses for the nurturing of eduction). One of his many task was helping folk in different churches write their wills. HE was not just bi vocational in addition to preaching and teaching he was a farmer and a printer one year he got a good contract to print a large quantity of Albany county voting tickets. ( I have to do some research to find out how these where used.

ABHS Is in the midst of a fund raising drive titled History Matters Any one who has read some of the misinformation on the boards on this site should be acutely aware of the truth in that statement. Some times it is hard to separate the fact from fiction. :( ABHS also has a hard copy news letter called American Baptist Primary Source and I had not been aware of this but I will subscribe. But the cost of the subscription will not cover our lunches. And on top of all that the lunch was held at the Fairport Baptist Home founded in 1907, and the Administrator of the home gave me a 96 page hard copy of their 100 year history prepared for their founders day celebration a few years ago. In addition to the history of the home there is a good bit about the Rochester Association and many churches in the area. And a ton of references to extant original documents on Baptist History in the State of NY.

Trudy also had a chance to visit with a lady who resides there but who's membership is still at the Burnt Hills Church.
Last edited by Ed Pettibone on Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My first formal introduction to the ABHS

Postby Bruce Gourley » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:00 pm

Ed, thanks for the report on your introduction to the ABHS. I have toured the collection in Atlanta, and I must say it is an amazing collection, the scope of which is so vast that there are probably treasures there that have yet to truly see "the light of day" (one of the big attractions in regards to moving the ABHS to Mercer Atlanta was so that some of the records that had been shelved away out of sight, because of space issues, might now have room to be made accessible).
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Re: My first formal introduction to the ABHS

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:18 pm

Alexis and I enjoyed our visit; spent a day researching a few American Baptist leaders from the 70s.

The archive certainly has great possibilities. I'm sure there are quite a few literally undiscovered treasures. I didn't sense, however, that the archive is completely organized yet. Also, without a decent online catalog, it's difficult to know much about the holdings.

I received a stipend to visit the archive in Nashville - a trip I hope to make later in the Fall. Their online catalog has been quite helpful in preparing to get the most of my visit.

I'd like to visit the Library of Congress sometime. I was recently reading that atrocious book by Philip Hamburger and learned that the Library of Congress has many letters from Baptist pastors to Hugo Black in response to his opinion in Everson v. Board of Education. I would love also to find out if Charles Evans Hughes received any letters from Baptist pastors following his church-state decisions, particularly the flag salute case.
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