A new finding aid is available for the Bianca Artom Collection. Mrs. Artom and her husband, Dr. Camillo Artom, fled fascist Italy in 1939. They came to Wake Forest, NC where he had been hired as chair of the biochemistry department at Wake Forest College Medical School. He was a world-renowned chemist whose study of lipid metabolism, atherosclerosis, and the effect of phosphorus in the body was ground-breaking. They moved to Winston-Salem in 1941 when the medical school relocated to partner with North Carolina Baptist Hospital. Dr. Artom retired in 1961 and died in 1970. Casa Artom was named in honor of the Artoms, and in 1975, Bianca began teaching Italian language and literature at Wake Forest. She taught until 1990, and also served as the summer director for the Casa Artom study abroad program for many years before she died in 1994. The finding aid for her collection is at this link: Bianca Artom Collection.
A new finding aid is available from Special Collections for the Baptist Women in Ministry of North Carolina Collection. This group has existed since 1984, and helps to support and connect Baptist women in North Carolina who serve in a ministerial capacity. This collection has materials documenting the beginning of the group, as well as those from following years which show how it has grown and changed. Photos, audio interviews, and newsletters show the rich history of the people who have been and still are involved, as well as the projects, ministries and efforts that they have been part of over the years. For more details, you can see finding aid here: Baptist Women in Ministry of North Carolina.
“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”
When people see boxes of old papers, black and white photos, and especially reels of microfilm, many of them assume that no one would want to use these types of materials because they are 1. old, 2. not online, 3. sometimes difficult to read, and 4. on microfilm. Why would anyone want to spend time trying to decipher a name written in a book over 200 years ago? Who needs to know what church someone attended after the Civil War? Who cares when a church started? What difference does it make if a church moved from one town to another in the 1900’s?
People may be surprized to know that the NC Baptist Collection is one of our most frequently used collections, with researchers requesting its materials on almost a daily basis. Many divinity school students use the collection, as well as undergraduates in history, religion and sociology classes. Faculty from WFU as well as other schools have spent many hours with Baptist materials as they write books, dissertations and articles. And genealogical researchers make up a large portion of our users, devoting much time to reading church records, histories, clippings files and manuscript collections. These researchers come to find answers, to find connections, to discover their own histories. Using these resources in the NC Baptist collection can help people find the missing part of their stories, the missing link to a distant connection. And yes, that is important. Just in the past 3 months, we’ve had genealogists from Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia and even California who have made trips here to use our Baptist materials.
Dr. Phil Neighbors, who came from California to research with us, shared his thoughts about using the collection. He wrote:
“The Dutchman Creek Baptist Church, now named the Eaton Baptist Church, in Davie County, North Carolina was founded in November of 1772. My 5th Great Grandfather, Ebenezer Fairchild, was a charter member and the first clerk of the church. My family and I discovered that the original records of the church were located in the special collections section of the library at Wake Forest University. When we visited this summer, we were thrilled to see the handwriting of our 5th Great Grandfather. Thank you for taking care of such a precious document.”
Dr. Phil Neighbors
Pastor of Valley Baptist Church
While he was here, some of his relatives were even able to travel over from Raleigh and other areas to see the records as well. It was a family reunion, precipitated by the Baptist collection! They all had a wonderful time sharing stories and information about their families, and even posed for a picture.
(The picture is of Chris Fairchild (back row, left) and her father (seated), Ed Anderson (middle, back row) and Phil Neighbors. All of us are direct descendants of Ebenezer Fairchild.)
We are glad that we had the records for Eaton Baptist Church that gave Dr. Neighbors and his relatives a direct link to their ancestor. Seeing Ebenezer Fairchild’s handwriting and touching the book that he actually wrote in connected them to him in a special way. This is one reason that we keep the materials that we do. Many times we have the only item that helps a person “live on”, the only evidence of a person’s existence. Being able to help people find this information is one of the highlights of our jobs in Special Collections.
***Special Collections is also happy to share a new finding aid that is available for Baptist materials. The Baptist State Convention of NC Scrapbooks and VBS Materials collection was recently donated to us by the main office in Raleigh. The materials reflect the conferences, training sessions, planning and day-to-day workings of the office as well as Bible School materials, clinics and statistics. See the full finding aid at this link: BSCNC Scrapbooks and VBS Materials
The Special Collections and Archives department is happy to announce that the Wake Forest Commencement Programs are now digitized and available online! We took our programs to UNC-Chapel Hill to be scanned as part of the Digital NC project. These are some of the most requested items in our collection and are a great help in finding graduates’ names, who spoke at commencement, what dates commencement was on, and how many people graduated in a certain year. People can now search these programs to see what the originals look like and find the information they need. While not a complete collection, we have a bulk of the programs from the early years until present. We are excited to have this group of materials available online now to further help researchers with their inquiries.
We are happy to announce that the processing of the Dr. Thomas K. Hearn, Jr. collection and finding aid are now complete. An intern for Special Collections, Mary Ann Ramsey, began the processing of the materials a few years ago, and did a through job with a sizable part of the collection. I picked up the processing last year and completed it after several “rogue” boxes were discovered, which caused it to take longer than originally anticipated. Now that all of the materials have been organized, the first and second parts make a complete collection that tells the story of Wake Forest from 1983 until 2005. The materials in the collection reflect Dr. Hearn’s time at Wake Forest as President of the university as well as after his retirement in 2005. Dr. Hearn presided over the school during times of great change and growth, which can be seen in the correspondence, speeches and articles that are part of this collection. His legacy of service to Wake Forest and the community is preserved in the archives and will be a wonderful resource for researchers.
See the new, completed finding aid here: Thomas K. Hearn, Jr. papers
Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce that the first segment of the Henlee H. Barnette papers finding aid is now online! The correspondence series of the Barnette papers fills 27 boxes, and spans the years 1943-1996. It gives great insight to Dr. Barnette’s life while he was a student, father, minister, professor, and social activist. Some correspondents of note include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Olin Binkley, John Claypool, John Howard Griffin, Elton Trueblood and Millard Fuller.
Henlee Hulix Barnette was a 1940 graduate of Wake Forest College who became a professor, Baptist minister, and outspoken advocate for social change. One of the most progressive Baptists of his time, Barnette worked to advance the civil rights movement, spoke out adamantly against the Vietnam war, and spent some of his early years of ministry in one of the most dangerous areas of inner-city Louisville, living in and serving the people of the Haymarket neighborhood.
Vicki and Rebecca will continue to process the other parts of the collection, and announcements will be made when new series have been added to the finding aid. This is such a rich collection of materials that researchers will find great insight and information in this first section of correspondence, as well as additional series that are to come.
See the finding aid here: Henlee Barnette Papers (MS 474)
The Wake Forest University Special Collections and Archives department is pleased to announce that the Biblical Recorder microfilm is now online and searchable! Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by theState Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, our microfilmed issues of the Biblical Recorder from 1834-1970 weredigitized, made searchable, and put online. This resource is one of our most highly used collections, and we are proud that it is now more accessible.
The Biblical Recorder is the official journal of the North Carolina Baptist Convention. Thomas Meredith, and early pastor who was instrumental in the formation of the state convention, founded the newspaper under the name of the Baptist Interpreter. The name was soon changed to the Biblical Recorder and Journal of Passing Events, and ultimately shortened to theBiblical Recorder. Readers can trace trends in social, cultural and religious views from 1833 until now, and gain a better understanding of how Baptist practices and attitudes have changed over the years.
The Biblical Recorder staff and Board of Directors in Raleigh were supportive of this effort from the beginning, and featured an article in their recent issue that will inform all current readers of the new resource as well.
We have already had a lot of positive comments and feedback from researchers who have used the online resource, as well as inquiries as to how the project took shape and what the process was from beginning to end. We are excited to have this available online, and eventually hope to have the funding to complete the remaining film from 1971-present. Please explore the site.
A story within a story, three members of the Special Collections and Archives team recount the discovery, preservation, and access of an exciting and well-traveled gem from the collection. We hope readers will enjoy the story and keep the relevance and enduring nature of the “Lebanon Greys” alive for at least another century!
It is amazing what gems we discover in the University Archives and NC Baptist collection on a regular basis… One day last week a researcher called asking to see the “Diary of the Lebanon Grays”. Our able student intern, Kathleen, took down the request and then told us what the researcher was looking for. The request was met with a resounding “huh?” by all of us. I checked our finding aids to see if there was a match, no luck. I went to the trusty ProCite database that usually contains information that isn’t listed anywhere else, no luck. Finally when Megan and I resorted to Googling the name, we found a listing on the Tennessee State Library page, under a Bibliography of Tennessee Civil War Unit Histories >Confederate. Interestingly enough, it listed a transcription of the diary that was done in 2000, the title of which is Diary of “The Lebanon Greys” Located in the Minutes of Sandy Springs Baptist Church, Iredell County, North Carolina, Reposited at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N. C. Lebanon, TN: T. E. Partlow, .
Obviously Mr. or Ms. Partlow had found the diary and done the translation sometime in the past, but we could find no information about it here in our listings. Maybe it was a misprint and the diary wasn’t really here, or maybe it was at the WFU historical museum the town of Wake Forest… Luckily when I went to investigate, I found that we had the original manuscript records for the church as well as the microfilm. As I looked through the records, I came upon a small book that was literally falling apart. I opened it carefully and saw a diary entry from April 23rd 1861 that said “On Tuesday the 23rd day April 1861 at the Court House in the town of Lebanon a company for the defense of the South was organized comprised of the Young men of the town and vicinity- Said company was duly organized at 2 o’clock of the day above mentioned and by report of a com. appointed for that purpose it was unanimously determined to call themselves The Lebanon Greys. “ Regular entries continue only through August of that year, but one final entry was added that said “April 9th 1865 today the Army of Northern Va surrendered Quite an unpleasant day with the Rebs to day in Va.”
So how did this wind up in a book of church minutes, you ask? On the following page is the inscription “This Book was found one the Battle field of Manases Brought here by T F Hayne and sold to M.S. Vestal and then M.S. Vestal taken this book an presented it to the Sandy Springs Church. M.F. Vestal, C.C.” I suppose that because resources were scarce in the South at that time, the church decided to use the book for its records, which begin on the next page and go through 1879 and hold quite an interesting history of their own as well.
Rebecca Petersen brought this diary/church record to Preservation. I don’t think I am alone in thinking about the person who actually held this book on a battlefield during the Civil War. This kind of makes you get goose bumps. It is one of the pleasures of being part of Special Collections and I’m sure is part of the reason most of us are drawn to this work.
In Preservation, I was able to repair this diary, which was missing the front cover and was about to lose all the pages. I stabilized the text block with Japanese tissue and created a new cover piece which I attached to the text block. I scanned the rear cover and printed out a copy of it for the front cover. After covering the new front cover with book cloth, I glued down the scan of the rear cover I’d made to the cloth so it was roughly similar in appearance. I also created a new end sheet with was glued to my new cover and the recently repaired text block. A few other minor repairs like repairing paper tears and loose hinges meant the book was structurally sound enough for handling and scanning. I have to confess, I didn’t want to give the diary back to Vicki and Rebecca.
It is amazing to hold this book and know that a soldier who fought in the Civil War wrote on these pages. It is even more amazing that we found itbecause of a research request and probably wouldn’t have ever known about it if the researcher hadn’t asked. Just another unique piece of the history we have here in Special Collections!
By the time the diary made it back to me, it had a new chapter to the story and a new front cover. Craig did a fantastic job of restoration and our plan to digitize the item was easier now that the diary was stable. The Special Collections and Archives team has completed many digital projects this year focusing on Civil War materials to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the war between the states. We have already contributed the Herbert E. Valentine Civil War Diary, the Lipe Family Civil War Letters, the Confederate Broadside Collection, and the George L. Bright Civil War Diary. ASERL has put together a “Civil War in the South” to highlight archival collections relating to this time in American History. We intend to digitize the Diary of the Lebanon Greys and add it to both our digital collections page as well as the ASERL project.
It is amazing that an object like a diary can have so many different stages of “life.” We are excited to show the world the journey from Lebanon, Tennessee, to Manassas, Virginia, to Sandy Springs Baptist Church, to the ZSR Preservation room, and finally to a new life as a digital object. Stay tuned and we will soon have the diary available in both the physical form and a digital representation for the public to view, learn from, and enjoy.
This past summer (remember when it was hot)? we received a request from a researcher who wanted to see our collection of old football programs, especially the ones from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. He said he wanted to make a calendar of some of the covers, and he spent several days looking through and photographing our collection. We thought that was a nice idea, but didn’t realize what a great final product would result! Lo and behold, one day a few weeks ago, I received a box of the new calendars and they look GREAT. We are excited that part of our collection made this publication possible, and we hope that lots of folks will want one for themselves. No, we don’t get any money from the sales of the calendars, but it’s a great tool for showcasing the unique materials that are in the Archives and letting people know that we are here. If you know a Wake alum, current student, or anyone who loves WFU, this would be a great gift for Christmas or any time. Check out this link to get more info and to order one for yourself.