Giving Old Images a New Life: Digital Preservation in the Archives

This week we go behind the scenes of Buswell Library Archives and Special Collections with a guest post from Becky Baker Halberg, who completed a practicum with the Archives last fall. Becky is an alumna of both Wheaton College and Wheaton College Graduate School and holds a B.A. in history and theology and a M.A. in History of Christianity. She is currently finishing her final semester at University at Buffalo where she is expected to graduate with her M.S. in Information and Library Science in May 2022. Becky worked at Wheaton College for the last five years while completing her M.A. before recently relocating to Minnesota. In addition to her interest in archival research related to the history of Christianity, she enjoys exploring the topic of Christian laity’s information literacy, particularly concerning the role of church libraries in fostering its growth.

This past fall, I had the privilege of participating in the inaugural Wheaton College Buswell Library Archives & Special Collection Digital Preservation Practicum. Over the course of the fall semester, under the guidance of Katherine Graber, Assistant Professor of Library Science, and Emily Banas, Public Services Archivist, I reorganized, compiled metadata, and ingested into Preservica hundreds of slide images from Collection 278 Papers of Elisabeth Elliot.

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Music in the Archival Sphere

Music is an intricate part of every human culture, including not only the production and enjoyment of sound itself, but the place it has in shaping memory and the tone of everyday life.

Song sheet from a 1948 YFC rally in Nimes, France. (CN48, Folder 14-50)

While an expression of art, music can also be a demonstration of deep-held values, hopes and fears, both for individuals and communities. As one of the central missions of Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections includes preserving the history of evangelism and evangelical Christianity, we have sought to document the music of evangelism, in all its variety and multitude.

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A Call to United Action: Commemorating 80 Years of the National Association of Evangelicals

Buswell Library Archives and Special Collections holds the records of many national evangelical organizations – From Youth for Christ (CN 48) and Christianity Today (CN 08) to Christians for Social Action (CN 37) and Prison Fellowship Ministries (CN 274). These collections provide valuable and fascinating insights into the history of evangelical Christianity in the United States. But few offer as broad a view of American evangelicalism in the last half of the 20th century as the National Association of Evangelicals (SC 113), which celebrates the 80th anniversary of its founding conference this month.

Meeting on April 7th 1942, the group of 147 evangelical pastors, leaders, and educators gathered together in St. Louis to answer the question: Who could speak for evangelical Protestantism in America?

St. Louis Conference, 1942. (SC113, Folder 10-6)
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“The Letter Kills but the Spirit Gives Life”: Julia E. Smith’s Bible Translation

From the first century onward, the form and text of the Bible has been a source of near-endless debate, review, reinvention, and artistry. Available in thousands of different translations, editions, and compilations, it is a text that is at once universal and individual.

Title page for a King James translation, 1613. (SC-10)

Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections holds more than five hundred whole or partial Bible monographs. Each of these instances carry forward the spirit of their common text and yet remain unique, with their own voices and particularities. Some of this variety comes from the different language translations available in the Archives (ranging from Hawaiian to Sanskrit), but remarkable diversity can also be found within the English translations alone.

The archive’s shelves include multiple printings, editions, and facsimiles of famous English translations, such as the Wycliffe Bible (1388), the Coverdale Bible (1535), and the King James version (1613), as well more modern classics, like the New International Version (1984) and the Living Bible (1971), among many others.   

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“A Gal, A Plane & A Dream”

This March, Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections celebrates Women’s History Month and commemorates the many women whose unique voices and stories are preserved in letters, diaries, recordings, and photographs scattered throughout our collections. Pieced together, these historical fragments offer a glimpse into the lives of faithful Christian women who fulfilled their unique vocations in a range of callings as missionaries, writers, doctors, preachers, educators, musicians, evangelists, and more.

Snapshot of Betty Greene (Printed in Mission Aviation, Summer 1948)

Today we remember the life and ministry of Elizabeth Greene (1920-1997), accomplished aviator and first pilot of Mission Aviation Fellowship, whose flying career spanned more than two decades and crisscrossed the globe from Peru to Sudan to Western New Guinea. Greene’s aviation adventures and single-minded focus on missionary service are documented in correspondence, articles, film footage, and photographs sprinkled throughout Collection 136: Records of Mission Aviation Fellowship.

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Constructed in the Clouds: The Unrealized Buildings of Wheaton College

Buildings, like people, mature and settle, acquiring unique histories and personalities through the passing seasons. Even when a beloved structure is lost to time as the result of demolition or decay, its influence burns a distinct impression into communal memory. At other times a form is planned but never built, perhaps due to lack of funding, changing needs, or diminished interest from its advocates.

The following structures, projected for the Wheaton College campus, remained stagnant on the drawing board but suggest fascinating, unrealized possibilities.   

The idealistic depiction on the left, conveying the ambitious “Greater Wheaton” project printed in the 1934 Tower, visualizes a series of modern buildings burgeoning upward from the solid basis provided by the old fashioned, neo-Romanesque Blanchard Hall. In this sketch, the drafts of a future Wheaton pile higher and higher into the clouds of the artist’s imagination, where it would remain.

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Holistic Evangelism in the Deep South: John Perkins and Voice of Calvary Ministries

(PF: Perkins, John)

In celebration of Black History Month this February, Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections highlights the transformational work of the Voice of Calvary Ministries, founded in Mendenhall, Mississippi by John M. Perkins – pastor, writer, and civil rights advocate.

The many reports, brochures, photographs, videos, oral history interviews, and correspondence available in Collection 362: Records of Voice of Calvary Ministries and Collection 367: Papers of John M. Perkins tell the story of a dynamic ministry that sought to emphasize evangelism in a context of holistic community development, economic distribution, and racial reconciliation.

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Out of War, An Open Door for the Gospel: Commemorating 75 Years of SEND International

Advertisement for GI Gospel Hour in Manila, Philippines, 1945. (CN 406 Folder 2-18)

World War II not only commanded the world’s attention and shaped international politics but also proved to be a decisive moment for missions’ history. Young American men and women military personnel traveled the world, saw the war’s devastation, and came face-to-face with the spiritual needs of the local populations. Their war experiences then shaped the college educations they returned to the US to complete and the futures they stepped into. But the context they returned to was also evolving. American Evangelicals were emerging from their isolation following the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy to take a more active role in church, political, entertainment, education, and business spheres. The National Association of Evangelicals was formed, the roots of Billy Graham’s ministry were already taking hold, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, and Campus Crusade for Christ were established on college and university campuses, and Youth for Christ was on the move among American high school students. Out of this convergence of factors grew new mission agencies, including Far Eastern Gospel Crusade (FEGC), now known as SEND International.

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Ring in the New, Accession the Old: 2021 Edition

As circulation and movement slowly returned, life approached closer to normal in Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections, as elsewhere, in 2021.

The first accession of 2021: 21-01 the papers of David Howard, described below.

Most of the staff worked from the office for almost the entire year and with proper precautions researchers could once more be seen reading in the Reading Room. Normalcy (to borrow President Harding’s term from just over a century ago) could be seen in other areas too. In 2020, the Archives acquired 16 accessions, totaling a little more than 9 cubic feet. In 2021 there were 45 accessions, totaling 119 cubic feet. 

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