What we do

“What Is It, Exactly, That You Do?”

This question is put frequently to Nazarene Archives staff. And there is only one good way to answer it: by sharing these reports published over the past five years in The Dusty Shelf, the official newsletter of Kansas City Area Archivists.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 15, no. 2, 1996-1997

This past year, the Nazarene Archives assisted nearby Nazarene Theological Seminary as it celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary. Our assistance included creating a permanent exhibit focusing on the founding faculty, and a series of temporary exhibits set up in the student lounge around the theme “More Preachers, and Better Preachers,” a phrase of Kansas City resident James B. Chapman, a general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, whose personal campaign for a graduate school of theology led to the seminary’s founding in 1945.

The Nazarene Archives began cooperating with NTS over twelve years ago, when a non-competitive policy was worked out between the Archives and the Broadhurst Library at NTS: the library does not collect manuscripts and other archival materials, and the Nazarene Archives does not collect books except those needed for reference or those tied directly to a manuscript collection. This has worked quite well, and through this mechanism we have acquired over the years the personal papers of several leading theologians in the church and in the larger Wesleyan-holiness tradition. Two years ago, we also became the official repository of administrative records of the seminary and now routinely receive the non-active records of the Office of the President and the Office of the Dean.

Last spring, Stan Ingersol visited Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass., to assess its archives. In May, a written report was sent to ENC’s president (who is also a historian). The plan had a step-by-step approach to organizing, describing, and preserving the collections, and it called for the ENC Archives to also collect materials documenting the Nazarene churches and church culture of the Northeast. The report was adopted by the president and the ENC trustees as their working plan, and in June Ms. Carrie Brown was appointed as half-time archivist, half-time librarian. In August she received training at the Nazarene Archives, and since then she has reorganized the collections, moved them to a more secure environment, inventoried and described the key ones, and begun systematic collection development. These steps come at a critical time: ENC’s centennial is in five years. Encouraging and promoting a system of regional archives throughout its international church connection is an important function of the Nazarene Archives.

The visit to Boston included time in Cambridge, where the Cambridge Church of the Nazarene donated its earliest church minutes and other records to the Nazarene Archives. The accession included photographs of the church and its founder, Rev. John N. Short, one of the key Nazarene founders in the East.

Other recent accessions include a sizable donation of photographs and materials pertaining to J. B. and Maude Frederick Chapman, including pictures of their extended families and their children and grandchildren. Readers who regularly watch “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” will be interested to know that the Chapmans are Mr. Lehrer’s maternal grandparents. The photographs, donated by longtime Kansas City resident Grace Ramquist, include three or four images with the nationally-known newsman in them.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol 15, no. 3, 1996-1997

In July, a significant accretion of fifteen cubic feet of academic and professional papers was added to the Mildred Bangs Wynkoop Collection. The author of books and articles in historical and systematic theology, Wynkoop’s appointments included serving as president of Japan Nazarene Junior College, professor of systematic theology at Western Evangelical Seminary (Portland, Ore.) and Trevecca Nazarene College (Nashville, Tenn.), and theologian-in-residence at Nazarene Theological Seminary. The accession includes several hundred photographs spanning her career, along with course syllabi, lecture notes, and other classroom materials.

The Emma Colburn Collection, received in late August, casts important new light on Nazarene denominational origins on the West Coast. The collection is composed of letters written from Los Angeles to Mrs. Colburn of Seattle by Phineas Bresee, principal founder of the Church of the Nazarene, and his wife, Maria Bresee. Mrs. Colburn was a close confidant of the Bresees and the letters reflect some of the early struggles of a new religious body.

The Harvey Finley Collection, received this summer, documents the teaching of the Hebrew scriptures at Nazarene Theological Seminary from 1950 through 1990. Finley earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University where the distinguished Near Eastern archeologist, William F. Albright, was his advisor. Finley brought Albright’s biblical archeology perspective into his Kansas City classroom. The six cubic feet collection includes lecture notes, syllabi, handouts, and other classroom materials.

Other recent accessions include the collected papers of the Consultation on the Relationship Between the Natural Sciences and the Wesleyan Tradition (1991), and Rich Houseal’s M.A. thesis in sociology at UMKC on “Women Clergy in the Church of the Nazarene: An Analysis of Change from 1908 to 1995.”

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1997-1998

The Emma Colburn Collection is an important new accession received late last fall. Mrs. Colburn, of Seattle, was an intimate friend of the primary founder of the Church of the Nazarene, Phineas Bresee, and his family. Between 1903 and 1920, she received over fifty letters from Bresee, his wife, and their daughter Sue. The letters are important new sources on Nazarene origins in Los Angeles, a primary center where the church emerged. The Bresees were remarkably frank in their views and comments. The collection was donated by longtime Kansas City resident Alpin Bowes.

The Archives was allowed to copy a travel diary of Môry Dupertuis, a Swiss immigrant who spent her early childhood in frontier Oklahoma. The diary remains in the family’s possession. It describes the Dupertuis family’s migration from Oklahoma Territory to Washington State in 1899, with insight into American religious influences on this Swiss family. Môry was later a charter member of Seattle First Church of the Nazarene and the mother of theologians Mildred Wynkoop (Nazarene) and Carl Bangs (United Methodist), who taught in graduate theological seminaries in Kansas City. Another of Môry’s daughters was a Nazarene pastor and home missionary in Alaska.

Other recent accessions reflect the international character of the Archives’ holdings, including photographs taken at ordination ceremonies for new ministers in Haiti, the papers of the late Mary Cooper, missionary in Swaziland, and the papers of Ruth Dech, missionary teacher in Central America.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 16, No. 2, 1997-1998

Lon Dagley, Nazarene Archives staff member since 1986, accepted an offer in April to work in the Information Technologies office of the Nazarene Headquarters (now Global Ministry Center). While Lon’s contributions to the future development of the archives are missed, Lon continues to work out of his old desk in the archives workroom for the present, using his computer skills to prepare the Office of the General Secretary for the Church of the Nazarene’s upcoming quadrennial General Assembly in June. Lon has been an active member in KCAA throughout his years in the Nazarene Archives.

The archives collections have been utilized by several entities preparing exhibits for General Assembly. These include videos prepared by different departments of the church and a significant contribution to the Office of the General Secretary’s exhibit.

The Raymond W. Hurn Papers is one of our significant new accessions. Hurn served the church as pastor, district superintendent in West Texas, Executive Secretary of the Department of Home Missions, and General Superintendent (1985-1993). The 12 cubic feet accession deals strictly with his general superintendency and the districts, educational entities, and Global Ministry Center departments assigned to his jurisdiction. Hurn has been a strong supporter of the archives and over 100 reels of microfilm and other papers pertaining to his earlier leadership in the area of home missions and church growth were donated several years ago.

The archives also recently received over 300 reels of microfilm from the Division of World Mission of papers extending from 1911 through 1985. These include financial papers and correspondents with missionaries and national pastors outside North America.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 17, no. 1, 1997-1998

Typically, a cross-section of accessions includes “something old and something new,” and even “something borrowedl” (though not necessarily something blue). The recent past is no exception. Recent accessions include microfilm copies of the administrative board minutes and other records of San Diego First Church of the Nazarene dating from 1907 to the present. These were loaned to the Archives for microfilming. The cost of microfilming them was underwritten by the Merle Dimbath Memorial Fund, which is designated for the preservation of congregational records. Our newer accessions include photographs and materials of the 1998 Kansas City District (Church of the Nazarene) Women Clergy Conference. Not only do the women clergy materials document the networking of local women, but the collection ties in nicely to a broader collection of materials produced by the on-going International Wesleyan-Holiness Women Clergy Conference. That organization is composed of women in ministry in the Free Methodist, Wesleyan Church, Salvation Army, Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), Brethren in Christ, Evangelical Friends, and Church of the Nazarene denominations. Two years ago, the Nazarene Archives was designated as the official repository of the organization, which sponsors an international conference every two years.

In the final months of 1997, the Archives received the papers of Dr. Donald Owens, who retired at the end of two terms (eight years) on the denomination’s Board of General Superintendents. His diverse career includes service as a missionary pastor and administrator in South Korea, professor of anthropology and missions at Nazarene Theological Seminary, founding president of Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in Manila, and second president of MidAmerica Nazarene College in Olathe, Kansas. The Archives also received 342 reels of microfilm from the World Mission Division and 39 reels from Church Growth Division.

The H. H. Hooker Collection was received in mid-1997 but deserves comment. Hooker was a minister and district superintendent whose career largely was spent in the South. The collection of diaries and preaching logs also contains very unique items: over a score of different tobacco products surrendered at the mourner’s bench by penitents during revivals Hooker conducted in Alabama in the 1940s.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 17, no. 2, 1997-1998

The recent remodeling of sections of the General Board building on the corner of 63rd Street and The Paseo marked the advent of a summer of hectic activity for Nazarene Archives staff. In early June, the Archives moved from the first floor location it has occupied since 1979 to newly-remodeled space on the building’s third floor. The move is the usual “duke’s mixture” of benefits and liabilities. The greatest benefit is a significantly larger stack room with an excellent humidity and control system that far surpasses the system in the old stack room. The new stack room does a great job of meeting our present storage needs. At the same time, compromises had to be made. The trade-off is that our work, research, and exhibit areas have shrunk. The total square footage assigned to Archives is about the same as before; the larger stack room was at the expense of other areas of the Archives. Two months later, we are still settling in.

One of our staff, Jerry Austin, left in May to become pastor of a Nazarene congregation in Chicago. Another staff member, Greg Brunson, took a leave of absence to attend Air Force chaplain’s candidacy school. The staffing gap was filled by hiring two short-term project archivists: Joel Thornton, a student at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, and Dr. Richard Cantwell, chair of Tabor College’s Music Department. Both performed excellent service, and Rich did a tremendous job of organizing and inventorying the 32 cubic foot Mildred Wynkoop Collection. Ramon Wycoff and Samuel Simoes, new students at Nazarene Theological Seminary, joined our staff the last week of August. Greg is also back on the job after his leave of absence.

In June, Stan joined Gordon Wetmore, president of Nazarene Theological Seminary, in a visit to the United Methodist Archives in Madison, New Jersey. Since 1980, the UM Archives have been located on the campus of Drew University, the oldest Methodist college in America. The UM Archives are housed in an impressive building located a few hundred feet from Drew’s main library. Our visit included a tour of all parts of the facility and discussions with several staff members. The visit was conducted as part of a plan to explore the possibility of relocating the Nazarene Archives to Nazarene Theological Seminary in a few years and incorporating it into a center for Nazarene studies that president Wetmore has proposed.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 17, no. 3, 1997-1998

The Nazarene Archives published a 50-page booklet in 1985 to coincide with the First Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Conference. Two thousand copies were distributed before it went out of print in 1990. Last fall a more comprehensive edition was published. Rescue the Perishing, Care for the Dying: Sources and Documents on Compassionate Ministries in the Nazarene Archives, Second Edition (1998) is an illustrated guide to 22 collections and a host of related materials in other collections that document social ministries of the Church of the Nazarene around the world, including orphanages, homes for unwed mothers, hospitals, social-ministry oriented congregations, and two church agencies: NCM International, and NCM USA/Canada. Two of the collections detailed document the work of Kansas City Area institutions: the Kansas City Rescue Mission, which was founded in the 1940’s and has operated for over a half-century, and the Rest Cottage for unwed mothers, founded at the turn-of-the-century and operated until the 1940s. The 100-page spiral-bound book contains a 50-page collection guide and reproduces a cross-section of materials represented in the collections. Copies are available to KCAA members and institutions for $6 postage paid, ($ 7 for non-KCAA folks) by contacting Stan Ingersol.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 18 inclusive, 2000

Two interesting recent accessions concern women in ministry. One is a copy of the official record documenting the ordination of Anna S. Hanscombe, founder in 1890 of a congregation in Malden, Massachusetts. Hanscombe was ordained to the ministry in 1892 by the Central Evangelical Holiness Association, a parent body of today’s Church of the Nazarene. These copies, sent by the pastor of the Malden Church of the Nazarene, document the process, including her election to elder’s orders by her congregation, examination by a presbytery of ordained ministers, and details of the ordination service itself. She was the first woman ordained by any parent body of the Church of the Nazarene.

Her legacy is reflected in the Lura Horton Ingler Collection, also received from New England. Lura Horton was ordained to the ministry in Chicago at the First General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene (1907). She later married fellow pastor and gospel song-writer Arthur Ingler. Her collection, donated in Autumn 1999, includes her diaries, materials relating to her ministerial career, and over a dozen photographs taken at various stages of her life from girlhood past middle age.

The Archives has begun systematic microfilming of the David Hynd Collection. Hynd and his wife were Scots who in 1925 became founders of the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini, Swaziland. The hospital became the hub of a significant Swazi medical work that included mobile dispensaries and a leprosarium. David Hynd was pivotal in establishing the Red Cross of Swaziland and was arguably the most influential medical missionary in Nazarene history. This microfilm project is vital not only for preservation but to allow Nazarene educational institutions in Africa, Great Britain, and America share the documentary heritage of this collection, which totals over 100 three-inch letter boxes of papers and span seven decades.

Other recent accessions include 31 reels of microfilmed correspondence from the World Mission Division; the diaries of Flora Brown for 1910-11, a year in which she lived in the Cape Verde Islands; and a variety of materials regarding camp meetings and gospel song-writers from historian Charles Edwin Jones.

From The Dusty Shelf, Vol. 19, nos. 1-2 combined, 2001

Dr. Richard Cantwell, head of the Music Department at Tabor College, returns to Olathe each summer and has worked in the archives for three summers in a row. Rich’s understanding of church music has been a help in the past, but this summer he indulged another interest — the inner life of church congregations — and focused his attention on our congregational collections. He has done an excellent job revising and improving the inventories of collections we hold pertaining to churches in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New York, California, Pennsylvania, and ten other states. This includes the Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene Collection, whose church board minutes are currently being microfilmed.

The Archives recently received the P. F. Bresee Research Collection from biographer and historical theologian Carl Bangs. Phineas Bresee (1838-1915), the most significant of the Church of the Nazarene’s founders, was the subject of a critical biography by Professor Bangs titled Phineas F. Bresee: His Life in Methodism, the Holiness Movement, and the Church of the Nazarene (1995). The 5.5 c.f. collection contains the assembled materials upon which that book was based, including copies of fugitive materials in Methodist congregational and conference archives in New York, Iowa, and California. Bangs, a friend to archivists throughout his career, has consistently based his major publications on thorough archival research. His first major project, begun as doctoral student at the University of Chicago, was a study of Holland’s late-16th-early 17th century theologian James Arminius. Researched in Dutch university and municipal archives, it was later published as an intellectual biography that gained Bangs recognition as a specialist in Reformation studies and Dutch religious history. That attention to detail is evident in his biography of Bresee and lies is at the heart of his current project: a book on the Mennonite Friesens. His wife, Marjorie Friesen Bangs, who speaks Dutch and German like her husband, has been his constant partner in these projects. Bangs served as president of the American Society of Church History, and the Archives is grateful to receive a substantial collection that enhances our sources pertaining to Nazarene origins.