KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has won the bid for an important piece of Baptist history and a substantial theological resource, the Charles H. Spurgeon Collection, sold by William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., for $400,000 Oct. 10.
“We are thrilled with this acquisition,” R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Seminary, said. “The Spurgeon library is a jewel for research as well as a monument to one of the Baptist and Christian world’s more effective proclaimers of the truth of Christ. Spurgeon was a giant for the cause of the Gospel; therefore, Midwestern Baptist Seminary is honored to be the guardian of this most substantive and recognized repository of his life and work.”
David Sallee, William Jewell’s president, said his school was pleased to pass the collection on to Midwestern.
“Following a thorough usage audit and conversations among Jewell administrators and trustees regarding its stewardship, it was determined that it would be best to find a new home for the collection,” Sallee said. “Midwestern has developed an outstanding plan for the preservation, presentation and use of the collection that will bring the recognition that both the collection and Dr. Spurgeon deserve.”
William Jewell housed Spurgeon’s private library for about 100 years after the Missouri Baptist General Association (now the Missouri Baptist Convention) announced that it was available for purchase in London for 500 pounds in 1905. The collection was sent on the S.S. Cuban to New Orleans, then to Kansas City by the Illinois Central Railroad.
Spurgeon, who lived from 1834 to 1892, was one of the most prominent English Baptist pastors of the 19th century. Representing the subject areas of literature, theology, travel, biography, science, hymnody, history and humor, with religion being the largest category, the collection features great Christian writers and has 5,103 volumes including many personal works.
“William Jewell College has owned and enjoyed this historic resource for a century. However, it has become clear that the collection is far more valuable to theological students outside the Jewell community, particularly those seeking a seminary-level education,” Sallee said.
Midwestern Seminary will take possession of the collection by Nov. 15, at which time some items will be available for display and the remainder will be catalogued and restored as the centerpiece for a new library. The collection will remain centrally located and readily accessible at Midwestern.
“We are grateful to President Sallee and William Jewell College for making the collection available,” Roberts said.
Midwestern did not release details of the purchase with the announcement, but told Baptist Press this information would be released sometime during the week of October 23-27.
William Jewell College declined to name the other bidders for the collection.