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Southwestern Seminary obtains British Baptist history collection

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is poised to become a world leader for Baptist research with the recent acquisition of the 10,000-volume Beryl and Geoffrey Breed British Baptist History Collection.
“This is one of the finest collections of English Baptist history in the world and will be part of the foundation for Southwestern’s Baptist history and heritage study center,” said Southwestern President Ken Hemphill.
“This collection will give us a nucleus of materials for an outstanding Baptist study center and place us on the leading edge of Baptist studies with core materials into Baptist origins and primary sources unique in the United States,” said C. Berry Driver, Southwestern’s director of libraries.
The first portion of the collection is expected on campus as soon as it clears customs. The Breeds will be on campus April 15, when a presentation will be made to them during chapel.
Purchase of the collection of Geoffrey Breed, a leading Baptist history scholar in the United Kingdom, will allow people in the United States to study English Baptist primary sources without traveling abroad.
“We are fortunate to have an outstanding collection of British Baptist history here and to be able to make it available to scholars, researchers and students interested in studying the background of British Baptists and the origins of Baptists in America,” Tommy Lea, dean of Southwestern’s school of theology, said.
Some of the volumes are found only in the Breed Collection. Others are rare, providing a look at 18th- and 19th-century Baptist church life in England. The volumes include:
— an original letter by Baptist theologian Andrew Fuller, dated Aug. 9, 1810. Fuller joined with William Carey to begin the modern missionary movement and a spiritual revival among British Baptists.
— 1858 first editions of Charles Spurgeon’s published sermons.
— four leather-bound volumes of Spurgeon’s Illustrated Almanack from 1857-1904. The only other copy is in the British Museum library.
— the only known copies of The Biblical Magazine, a Baptist journal series published from 1801-1803.
— numerous rare books, photographs and manuscripts.
“The periodicals particularly will be a wonderful primary source for English Baptist pastors and church life during that period,” said Karen Bullock, an assistant professor of church history at Southwestern.
“This collection will help give our students a global Baptist perspective,” said Stephen Stookey, assistant professor of church history at the Fort Worth, Texas seminary. “It will take them beyond a southern United States understanding of Baptist life.”
Breed took great care to preserve and rebind many of the volumes in this collection, which he kept in his four-story home in Gillingham in the region of Kent in southeast England.
Breed is a retired pastor who ministered at Sitting Bourne Baptist Church from 1980-88. Breed served in World War II as a British Army officer and later had a career in commerce. He studied theology at Christ Church College in Canterbury and received a master of arts in history from Keele University in Staffordshire.
The Breed Collection will join the seminary’s collection on Texas Baptist history, which is held in the Roberts Library archives. Southwestern professor Leon McBeth also has on campus his extensive private collection on Baptists, in particular Southern Baptists, in Texas and America.
The Breed Collection will be kept temporarily in the archives of Roberts Library and may only be used on site. The seminary plans to build a Baptist heritage and history study center, which will be the permanent home for the collection.

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  • Matt Sanders