JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) – It’s a worldwide center of all things Baptist, with Bibles from the 1600s, sermons from Southern Baptist leaders dating to 1846, periodicals spanning two centuries, and intimate collections from a diversity of leaders.
The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (SBHLA) was honored Nov. 3 with the Society of Tennessee Archivists’ (STA) 2022 John H. Thweatt Archival Advancement Award at the group’s meeting in Jackson.
Taffey Hall, who has served since 2016 as SBHLA director, welcomed the honor.
“This award represents our continuing commitment to service to the denomination at all levels, including churches, associations, state conventions and SBC entities,” Hall told Baptist Press. “It acknowledges our service to a wide range of researchers and scholars who use the collection. It signifies our commitment to preserving and making records available for use.”
Established in 2001 in honor of the late John H. Thweatt, a longtime archivist at the Tennessee State Library and Archives and a charter Society of Tennessee Archivists member, the award recognizes significant contributions to the advancement of archives and archival issues within Tennessee, said David Sowell, the group’s vice president.
The award is presented annually “to individuals, groups and organizations that have made significant contributions to the advancement of archives and archival institutions in the State of Tennessee,” Sowell said. “The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives was nominated for this award this year for its many years of service to historic preservation, genealogical and historical research.”
The Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection in Knoxville is also a 2022 Thweatt award recipient.
“This is a treasured collection that tells a wide range of stories of Baptist work, mission, achievements and challenges,” Hall said. “It is a vital institution that preserves the memory of Southern Baptist history and life.”
The SBHLA offers many of its resources digitally. Materials across 91 titles and categories are searchable.
“Through use of the SBHLA’s digital resources, researchers from anywhere and at any time can study a wide range of topics,” Hall said, “including the actions of the convention; theological debates, social issues including hunger, marriage and family life, poverty, race relations, religious liberty, and war and peace; missions activities including work with immigrants and ethnic groups, mountain and rural missions, literacy and deaf ministry, work with the elderly and children, and evangelism; and a broad scope of SBC international missions work.”
The archive also provides links to nearly 50 digitally accessible Baptist historical and informational sites in the U.S. and abroad, including the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, the Woman’s Missionary Union Archives and the Baptist Historical Society of England and Wales.
The 10,000-square-foot collection includes thousands of books, annuals of Baptist associations and conventions, comprehensive files of Baptist newspapers, audio and video recordings, photographs, pamphlets, archival records, manuscripts, microfilm reels of Baptist historical materials and an environmentally controlled rare book room featuring a collection of rare Bibles dating from the early 1600s.
The SBHLA was established in 1938 as a part of the Southern Baptist Historical Society and is governed by the Council of Seminary Presidents. It operates on the fourth floor of the Southern Baptist Convention building in downtown Nashville.