Southern Seminary launches archives website

Communications Staff — October 31, 2005

Information about a collection of rare Baptist history materials housed in the Boyce Library at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is now accessible online.

On Oct. 25 the seminary launched a website designed to help the public navigate the seminary’s extensive archive. The site, available at http://archives.sbts.edu, includes summaries of the library’s collections, information about the archives’ services and policies, and a brief history of Southern Seminary.

“The materials in the archives and special collections department are nearly all unique to Southern Seminary,” said seminary librarian Bruce Keisling. “Because they are unique, they require special organizing techniques and warrant the special showcasing that this website provides. The summary history of Southern that we are now providing on the website functions much like the display cases in the library–it provides a context through which we are able to exhibit collections and inform library users.”

Jason Fowler, Southern’s archivist and special collections librarian, hopes the website will help Southern Baptists realize the value of the materials in the seminary’s archives.

“The archives are an invaluable resource for information about Baptists, particularly in North America,” he said. “Several of our collections, such as our Baptist associational minutes and church minutes collections, our rare book collection and our founders collection, provide resources that give us a window into Baptist identity and Baptist distinctives through the ages. All of these collections are available for Southern Baptists to use.”

Researchers within the seminary community and outside the seminary will be able to use the website to plan their research with online finding aids. The finding aids should prove particularly useful for out-of-town researchers who wish to plan their research prior to visiting the library.

The popular history includes an outline of Southern’s development and historic photographs.

“We wanted to offer a brief popular history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary so that our faculty and students, as well as church members within convention churches, can understand the history of our institution,” Fowler said. “The history also allows us to display some of the pictures that we have in our photograph collection that Southern Baptists may otherwise never get to see.”

Library officials hope the website will inspire scholars to conduct further research on Southern’s history and cause all Southern Baptists to be thankful that their Cooperative Program dollars have gone to support an institution with such a rich background.

“We hope the popular history will spark students’ interest in the history of Southern and lead to their researching in detail some area of our history they find interesting,” Fowler said. “Most importantly, we hope that Southern Baptist church members will come to understand the history of our institution. Southern is an institution that Southern Baptists should be proud to support through the Cooperative Program.”

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