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Woolley Award given to SBC’s archives

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional information has been added to this story since its initial release on July 1.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives has received this year’s Davis C. Woolley Award from the Baptist History and Heritage Society.

The award is given annually to a Baptist historical collection or organization for “Outstanding Achievement in Assessing and Preserving Baptist History.”

Presented by Jerry Faught, the society’s president, the award recognizes that the Historical Library and Archives added to its collection 1,070 books and pamphlets in 2008, along with 43 archival and manuscript collections, 2,940 periodicals and 667 reels of microfilm.

The award was based on the SBHLA’s 2007-08 annual report, which also noted the acquisition of the library of Baptist historian Albert Wardin and 400 linear feet of records and media from the former Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission and from FamilyNet, a network formerly operated by the North American Mission Board.

The library and archives also made 2,518 contacts with researchers, attracted more than 300 registered researchers and continues to offer the most diverse and extensive collection of Baptist material.

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In addition to the materials and contacts, the Historical Library and Archives awarded 15 Lynn E. May study grants (named for the 1971-95 executive director of the SBC’s former Historical Commission) for students conducting research at the facility in Nashville, Tenn.

“We are pleased and honored that the Society selected the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives as this year’s recipient for the Woolley Award,” SBHLA director Bill Sumners said. “Our staff works hard to make our collection open and available to a wide variety of users.”

Faught, an associate professor of religion at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, said the Baptist History and Heritage Society selected the Historical Library and Archives “because of the excellent and comprehensive report that the staff submitted detailing many activities and accomplishments,” including, for instance, “an impressive number of researchers who had visited the library and archives over the past year. Some of those researchers were given a Lynn May study grant that helped defray expenses.

“I have visited the library and archives on four different occasions, receiving the Lynn May grant twice,” Faught noted in a statement to Baptist Press. “Once I visited while working on my dissertation and several more times I visited while working on some articles about Herschel H. Hobbs,” who deposited an extensive amount of material in the archives. Hobbs, who died in 1995, was chairman of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message Committee, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and a prolific author.

“I have always found the staff to be helpful, kind and accommodating,” Faught said. “Bill Sumners and Taffey Hall (these are the staff I know personally) and other staff members go above and beyond in assisting researchers so that they will have a good experience while they visit the library and archives.”

Davis C. Woolley served as the second executive secretary-treasurer of the former Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1959-71. The Historical Commission established the award in his honor in 1991.

The purpose of the award is to encourage creativity and excellence in state Baptist history programs, including all organizations involved in assessing and preserving Baptist history, according to the History and Heritage Society’s website.

The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives is a worldwide center for the study of Baptist history. Operated by the Council of Seminary Presidents, the SBHLA is a major denominational collection and serves by assignment of the Southern Baptist Convention as the central depository and archives of SBC records. The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives opened in 1985 in the SBC Building, but the collection dates back to 1938 with the formation of the Southern Baptist Historical Society.
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Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.