Yours and HIS: Letters from W. Carl Ketcherside

Few individuals among Churches of Christ in the 20th century were as well-known as Carl Ketcherside (1908-1989). He described his journey as that of a piece-maker who became a peacemaker. He was for many a champion for the recovery of a lost unity amid a divided fellowship; for others, his voice represented a dangerous departure from historic restorationism if not biblical teaching. However his legacy is characterized, any interpretation of it rests on available sources: from a voluminous published corpus to archival materials from his own hand. On the one hand, ACU Special Collections holds a robust collection of his published books. Further we have copies or originals of as complete a set of his periodicals as is obtainable. On the other hand, we have numerous letters written by Carl to several of his associates. Never intended for publication, they shed additional light into his ministry and through his life, the wider story of Churches of Christ in his day. Each letter includes an attached transcription, and as a result of the typed transcriptions, the letters are now text searchable. We thank Ian Davidson, Cecil Hook. Hoy Ledbetter, Boyce Mouton and Terry Gardner for making the letters, transcriptions, and annotations available to ACU’s Special Collections.

During the 2013 ACU Friends of ACU Library luncheon during Summit I discussed the archival significance of this correspondence and the role archives play in the preservation and dissemination of our faith story. You can find this video presentation here.

Now, I was recently called attention to this speech. I composed it in haste, delivered it with some fear and trepidation, and then moved on. Fear and trepidation because this film captures the first time I spoke in front of an ACU audience, and on top of that Leroy Garrett was seated just in front of me. I also had a full plate in the fall of 2013 trying to begin to get the archive put back together after Donald, Chad, and I relocated everything to the lower level (in just four weeks) only 2 months prior. And we just moved into our house in late July and Laura and the girls started at school just a couple weeks before this Summit presentation. That was just the fullness of the moment. My plate stayed full since, and truthfully I did not really think about this speech again. Though the speech was filmed and placed online, I see now that I did not even take time then to link to it on this blog. I edited the ‘Spoken Word’ page to include a link.

But, I think it has aged very well. I listened to it again just now. I remember working very hard to condense it, to gain clarity, to maintain an even keel of tone and texture. But I do not remember the side line on archival practice. I like it. I’m glad I said it because it needed to be said then, and it needs to be said again. I like the way I said it, and I like what I said. I can see now that some of these thoughts filtered into an article I wrote for Restoration Quarterly.

So, here it is, my attempt to narrate a story about a man whose letters reveal much… much about him, his church, the imperatives which compelled him, and an archive which holds them in trust.

Footlong footnotes

I appreciate academic journal articles in which the author feels compelled to provide nearly a full page of footnotes for three lines of text.

I appreciate the philosophical approach this represents. I appreciate the close reading and comparison of texts and sources it requires. I appreciate the detail and perspicuity it evidences. I appreciate that the author takes the task, topic, and sources and reader so seriously that they unload in the footnotes. I appreciate footnotes which dialogue with other footnotes, which reference earlier or later notes, or which pit source against source, nuancing each other as they dance toward understanding. Kudos to anyone who composes a footnote dialogue so finessed that it is not complete without a contra this or that or a however here or there. I do not regard cf. or vis-a-vis as garnish. Rather, to my eye and appetite the reflect some meaty substance. They are signs of heft. Sure signs the author has homework under their belt. This person has served me a meal, and if I starve after reading it I have only myself to blame.

To some, that is puffery.

Yet, I read claims in which the sentence says ‘many’ or ‘some, or ‘most’ or some such. Yet lo and behold, only one item is noted in the reference.

You tell me which one is puffery.

The Author’s Dilemma—An Autobiographical Reflection on the Maxim, “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”

Ron relates a recent exchange in a social media forum prompted by his announcement of his new book. Presumably the group is intended to promote the exchange of ideas. I don’t know that, since I am not even aware of which platform, much less which group the exchange happened in. (Gosh, that is just about the sole premise behind *every single* social media group). But, perhaps this group has a rule prohibiting self-promotion of poster’s own books. Perhaps. The commenter didn’t say as much, though. It would be a simple thing to point out self-promotion of one’s own books is prohibited. I suspect it was a Facebook group. FB groups allow for posts containing group rules to be pinned to the top of the group page. I know this because I administer one FB group and I do this. It could have gone like this: ‘Hi Ron, thanks for the note, but this kind of self-promotion is against group rules. Please take note and have a nice day.’ Easy enough. But that is not what the commenter said. You can read Ron’s post to see the exchange.

So, why re-blog this? Good question.

Well, first this incident is about writing and publishing, and I’m interested in that. As Ron said, “If you want to become an author, you’d better grow thick skin.” True. Perhaps this exchange is a one-off between a seasoned scholar and a child posing as an adult in a serious forum. I wondered aloud to Ron on FB, and will wonder aloud here, too, if his critic a) has not earned the highest credentials in the field, b) has not spent decades teaching or serving congregations, and/or c) has not written a book? How easy it is to call BS when you have not done or achieved what the other person has. There is a certain kind of person who learned this tactic in kindergarten and reserves it as a go-to MO. I left lots of FB groups because of comments like this. And as a moderator, I have culled a few (thankfully very few) from my group. So, perhaps this is one peril of entering the public discourse: you need a thick skin to deflect blows like this from people like this. On that count, and because of Ron’s kind and generous response, I reblogged it.

Second, it is also a reflection on the state of discourse in fora in which ideas are shared, advocated, and refuted. Presumably upon evidence and argumentation amid debate. The commenter offered none of those. This incident is perhaps a one-off, a cautionary tale for would-be authors. It surely is. But perhaps it is a symptom of a broader manner of discourse which has devolved in a pernicious way in social media petri dishes. So, Ron can spend years studying a discipline, decades teaching in it, and still more years identifying trends. This followed by months crafting a research question followed by writing and revising what he considers an appropriate and helpful book addressing the need he sees. Posts a comment in a forum and a critic smoothly dismisses the whole thing, unread, as BS.

Yep, sounds like social media to me.

I wondered if his commenter had any of the typical qualifications a normal person would value in one who proposes to critique such a book as Ron has written. I doubt it, but I wondered. The reason I doubt it is that normal people typically don’t act like that. Typically adults behave like adults, and those with qualifications engage on that basis.

Now, I didn’t pose this question to Ron, but will pose it here. I also wonder about the critic’s basic philosophical outlook. I predict the critic is proudly progressive. I doubt with just about everything within me that a conservative in a church-related forum called Ron Highfield’s new book bullshitty.

I am happy to be corrected, and welcome correction. Please, someone, anyone, correct me.

I’ll go one step further. Not only will I hazard a guess this critic is proudly progressive, I predict no other proud progressive in that group stepped up to call BS on the BS-caller. Why? Because in a BS world nothing matters more than perception. It is a real prize to skewer anything not progressive in as few characters as possible. And this enabled by those who know better but will not call BS on the BS-callers.

Welcome to the state of discourse in 2021. No one who has been paying attention is surprised by this. And that is the problem. I fear this one exchange is not a one-off, and that is the problem. I read Ron’s blog, had an immediate and visceral reaction, and had to get this post out. Maybe the only way to make it so that incidents like this are again one-off’s is to call the bluff.

Unlike some social media, my blog is wide open for comment, critique, and evidence-to-the-contrary no matter what the subject or question at hand may be. Anyone is welcome to comment here, but I brook no infantilism like Ron’s critic. Maybe this is the remedy: to call BS on the BS-callers? Maybe that is how sane people recapture the stage? I do not need you to agree with me, but I need to you to keep me procedurally honest. Demand evidence and argumentation out loud and in clear terms. And refuse to settle for less.

And this is my platform in which to do that. So I reblogged it.


As readers of this blog know I recently published two books, Rethinking Church and The New Adam: What the Early Church Can Teach Evangelicals (and Liberals) About the Atonement (Cascade, 2021). Although I felt compelled to write and publish those books and I believe they are worth reading, I have a hard time feeling good about promoting them. Part of my hesitancy arises from imagining that other people might view me as promoting myself, seeking honor, or placing myself above others.

This fear was reinforced about a week ago. I posted a link to the page for The New Adam to a FB group to which I belong. (It is important that you know that this is a church group.) One person commented on the link something like this:

“I wish people would stop trying to sell their Bulls…ty books to this group.”[See the note on B.S. at the…

View original post 557 more words

Just scan it! (?)

Expert: It would take hundreds of years to digitize records at Seattle National Archives:

My thoughts: 

First, apparently the archival collection in question is facing relocation, and the digitization proposal looks like a salvage operation aimed at getting something done before the records are buried even deeper in another facility. Institutions poised to receive collections really are on the front line of saving what could otherwise be lost, or buried in an undescribed or under-described deep-storage situation.  Maybe this is indicative of a trend toward larger, better funded, more capable repositories at the federal level?  Perhaps also in other settings?  For example, Perkins/SMU just received a large United Methodist archival collection from a closing sister institution. .   As institutions face space and budgetary contractions, other capable institutions who can acquire collections seem to be be doing so.  If not, I suspect the materials are parceled out at auction or otherwise dispersed (especially for small, local  museums).  

Second, I like Rencher’s straightforward, facts-based approach.  Simply put, folks who say ‘just scan it’ betray their lack of understanding of several critical aspects of the issues (see 3 and 4)  

Third, taking a cue from Rencher, here are some rough estimates for the ACU archival collections.  We have about 6000 linear feet of archival materials in the Center for Restoration Studies Collection (over 500 sets of papers ranging in size from a folder or two to 125+ boxes, each).  Linear feet/cubic feet distinction really doesn’t matter much here, because we are talking about a banker’s box of paper either way.  Our 6000 feet translates into about 12,000,000 pieces of paper, photos, etc.  Rancher’s example of one person operating one scanner for a full ‘camera year’ renders our collection fully digitized in 24 years, or the close of the academic year 2046.  That is, if we do not receive another item, and that does not count books, periodicals, tracts, or other print or A/V materials.  A/V materials require 1:1 conversion time, that is, a 30 minute tape needs to play for 30 minutes so it can be digitally captured with the equipment we have.  2046 also assumes perfect scanning conditions, with smooth prep, get-it-right-the-first-time, quality control baked into the process, no rescanning, getting file names right (and scalable).  So, start with the first collection today and in May 2046 we will be finished.  (Add another 24 years for the 6000 linear feet of University Records we currently hold).

Fourth, the article does not touch the hem of the garment in terms of digital degradation, the ancillary costs of supervisory time and equipment (especially if we scale up with additional scanners, which will wear out in time), conservation (if we choose to do any at the point of digitization), digital storage for that amount of data the scanning will generate (redundant and secure physical and cloud-based storage, in perpetuity), and the time and expertise necessary for some kind of metadata description, not to mention public access in some kind of online repository (which includes additional upload and description time).

I could go on and on, but I thought it might be useful to think aloud about this in terms of what we have in our collection.

Now, this might seem so gloomy.  I don’t intend that, but I think it helps to put facts against perception.  In this case, the perception that everything will be (or should be) scanned is not often rooted in a realistic understanding of what must happen to make that possible. 


I last darkened the door of this corner of the web exactly one year ago. I remain amazed that several thousand people landed here in the past year. They were looking for the very things I used to write about but stopped. That tells me that what I was writing about then still has some interest now. It also tells me I should not squander an opportunity to do something I like. It is nice, I suppose, when there may be a few folks out there who might like it, too. But I never wrote for the audience. To them, yes, but really it was always for me and I thought maybe if someone else enjoys it, too, then all the better. What an odd thing to do, to stop doing what you like.

I like to write and yet I have not done too much of it. Certainly not as much as I would like to do. Supposedly a significant portion of my day job should occupy me by writing, although honestly that is a rare thing. It is also a rare thing for me to read at work. Surrounded by books, and yet it feels like I’m dying of thirst in an ocean. In fact, once a couple wandered into my office–just walked right in as I was trying to get to the bottom of the inbox. They looked at the books on my walls. May I help you? They thought my office was Special Collections. No, just my office, now, how can I help you? They just wanted to see the place, so I walked them around and showed them the place. But the irony is still there. Almost everything I have written, certainly everything I have published, in the past twenty years has been on my own dime, usually late at night. And for the past 15 or so years, some of it began on a blog.

About that day job, there is always something to do, emails to answer, the phone to answer, people to help. And all of that, too, is my day job. But finding time to read and finding time to write happens when it is prioritized and made to happen. I confess I have not been very good about saying no to other things so I can say yes to that. Especially when those other things are so loud in their neediness. Writing is a quiet neediness, but needy nonetheless. So, I will try to resume blogging as a means of discipline to get back in a habit of writing regularly.

And I know full well that by typing the above paragraphs, out loud and on paper the screen for God and everyone to see will function as an internal obligation inside my head, and that, too, is part of the point. I need to re-train the habit and I need to reclaim the space to do it before 2am. At one time on this blog (under the hood, on the admin side) I had several posts cooking at any one time, each in various stages of development. Some were ideas, others were translating research finds into readable sentences. Still others were just sharing things I found hither, thither and yon. But it was a habitual facet of an iterative process. And even if much of which happened inside my head or under the hood on the admin side, a good deal of it made its way public as I thought about my research interests, wrote, rewrote, revised, finally published, heard comments (occasionally), or talked about the stuff with friends at Wendell’s. But it happened, until it didn’t.

Recently my cousin, a writer himself, shared with me a fabulous set of Ray Bradbury quotes about writing.

There are too many good things there to cherry pick one or two. So, click and read if you want.

Ok, here’s one or two:

Writers’ block is just a warning that you’re doing the wrong thing:

What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it? Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, aren’t you? . . . You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for. . . If you have writers’ block you can cure it this evening by stopping what you’re doing and writing something else. You picked the wrong subject.

-from “Telling the Truth,” the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University, 2001

Don’t be afraid to cut:

Most short stories are too long. When I wrote the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, the first draft was a hundred and fifty thousand words. So I went through and cut out fifty thousand. It’s important to get out of your own way. Clean the kindling away, the rubbish. Make it clear.

-from a 2010 interview with Sam Weller, published in The Paris Review

Don’t be afraid to write crap, either:

Whatever it is—whatever it is, do it! Sure there are going to be mistakes. Everything’s not going to be perfect. I’ve written thousands of words that no one will ever see. I had to write them in order to get rid of them. But then I’ve written a lot of other stuff too. So the good stuff stays, and the old stuff goes.

-from Bradbury’s 2000 CalTech commencement speech

That was three, I can count. But the point is, and I had forgotten about how good a writer he is and how I really enjoyed reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school, the point is he is one of the writers who opened a window in my head through it helped me see out to a world of language and expression. Erich Remarque is another. Flannery O’Connor is another. Mark Twain, Shakespeare to a lesser degree, Alexander Campbell, the list goes on. Mad Magazine and National Geographic, too. And I’m back to this long-neglected blog. A place where I once wrote, and where I hope to write again.

I have no other plans than that. I can’t say how often, or what i might write about. Perhaps I might do some book reviews. And they might be reviews of old books. Or reviews of articles. Or drafts of research ideas? Or little side lines that I slice from research papers? Scraps from the cutting room floor? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out together.

Name Authority for Nashville, Tennessee Stone-Campbell Congregations, 5th edition, now available

Name Authority for Nashville Tennessee Stone-Campbell Congregations, 5th edition, revised and enlarged. April 18, 2020.  This list comprises 440 variations of time, place and character names for 247 known congregations of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee from 1812 to March 2020.


Vacation Bible School. Eastview Church of Christ, Nashville, Tennessee, early 1950s

With Quiet Diligence: How Claude Elbert Spencer Formed an Archival Tradition in the ­Stone-Campbell Movement

I published a chapter in The Faithful Librarian: Essays on Christianity in the Profession. (McFarland and Company, 2019) in which I provide for the first time a critical, source based account of Claude Spencer’s career and contribution to archival sensitivity in the Stone-Campbell Movement.  Below are the opening and closing paragraphs of the chapter:

As the pioneering archivist of the Restoration Movement or Stone-Campbell Movement, comprising the Christian Churches, Churches of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Claude Elbert Spencer (1898-1979) came onto the scene during the emergence and professionalization of library study and the concomitant higher expectation of library work in the academy; he possessed a native impulse and a unique vocational imperative to collect history; and finally he owned a theological subjunctive to embrace the breadth of Stone-Campbell material in a single archive.  This essay narrates the contours of his life’s story and work as it relates to the formation of the archive he conceived.  Further, it attends to the values and virtues that compelled his collecting and guided his service.  Spencer’s bibliographic work was exemplary and his archival work was peerless in his denomination. The story behind this work and the values that undergird it invite contemplation by those who would serve as archivists in denominational settings.


It is remarkable that a boy who learned to read at age nine would five years later become de facto librarian of his high school, and five years after that lead the library at his college in exchange for tuition, room and board.  It is remarkable that librarian who wouldn’t have known a Disciple book if it hit him in the head would compile a bibliography so authoritative it remains unsurpassed after seventy years.  It is remarkable that he formed a collegial society to serve the academy and the congregation, the graduate seminar and the Sunday school roundtable.  It is remarkable that he maintained an unrelenting commitment to charity and equal representation in collecting scope in the face of bitter intramural disputes over bureaucracy the very existence of which fractured the ecclesial fellowship he loved and served the entirety of his career.  It is remarkable that he recognized the need for, and advocated for needed research topics that were years ahead of their time.  It is remarkable that though he held no degree beyond the ars baccalaureus in education, no less than 84 master’s theses and doctoral dissertations credit his advice, counsel, and assistance.*  It is remarkable that he attained expertise with minimal formal coursework and professional training, but so mastered ‘library economy’ and was so productive in keeping up a demanding schedule, that the upon his retirement he was replaced by two and one-half full-time equivalents with graduate degrees in history, library science, and theology.

Spencer’s legacy survives in the several bibliographic works he authored, in the catalog records he generated, in the finding aids he assembled, and in the indexes he compiled.  His legacy survives among the holdings of Disciples of Christ Historical Society, of which he was visionary and architect.  His legacy endures in the community of librarians, archivists, historians, students and independent scholars he formed.  His legacy endures in the scholarship he facilitated by virtue of his quiet diligence in collecting, organizing, describing, preserving, and advocacy for print and archival materials of the Stone-Campbell heritage, consisting of the Christian Churches, the Churches of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and related groups.

The chapter was a sheer pleasure to research and write.  Stone-Campbell historical scholarship came into its own because of Claude Spencer.  First he raised awareness of its need, articulated that vision in plain terms, and then set about sourcing everything a scholar would need to write.  Look at the footnotes of the historical works published by or about anything Stone-Campbell since World War 2.  Look hard enough, and follow the references long enough, and you will find precious few that do not cite materials he gathered, inspired others to gather, or quote those who deal with those primary sources.  I think he surpasses all historians as the most significant single figure who has contributed to ‘Restoration history.’

*– I have since located two additional theses, for a total of 86.

Nashville Christian Churches, 1904

John T. Brown published in 1904 an encyclopedic pictorial and summative account of the Christian Churches.  Churches of Christ however was not exhaustive and underrepresented those writers, evangelists, congregations and publications opposing instrumental music in worship and Christian missionary work through agencies or societies other than a local congregation.

He provides on pp. 357ff a large and beautiful photograph of the Vine Street Christian Church along with its board of elders and a brief narrative sketch.   He concludes with a list of the other congregations in Nashville.

“There are seventeen other congregations in the city.  The following is a list:

1. South College Street [South Nashville]

2. Woodland Street

3. Tenth Street

4. Lockeland Church

5. Fourth Street [Grandview Church is first listed in the 1905 City Directory]

6. Foster Street [North Edgefield]

7. Highland Avenue

8. West Nashville

9. Carroll Street

10. Line Street [Jo Johnston]

11. Waverly Place

12. Beuna Vista [not listed in the City Directory for 1904 or 1905]

13. Nashville Bible School

Three of the eighteen are colored churches:

14. Lee Avenue

15. Gay Street [Second Church]

16. Jackson Street” [listed in the 1905 directory with the white congregations]

I compared Brown’s list to the 1904 and 1905 Nashville City Directories*.  In the list above, in square brackets, I add the names of the congregations as they appear in the City Directories.  The Directories have these additional congregations: Cherokee Park, Davis Hill, Green Street, North Spruce Street, Scovel Street and Willow Street.

I point this out only to say that both sources illuminate each other; at the same time both are incomplete and even when merged do not tell the whole story.  For example, in 1904-1905 the little mission on 12th Avenue North in North Nashville (launched from the North Spruce Street Church) was underway but it was too new for Brown and so far under the radar, it seems, as to escape notice of the Directory compilers.  There was also an African-American congregation/mission in East Nashville that no one seems to have noticed.

Also, Brown and the City Directories speak of the same congregations using different names:  Line Street and Jo Johnston are the same congregation; same for North Edgefield and Foster Street; Fourth Street is probably a reference to the mission that became the Grandview Church, first listed in the 1905 Directory; South Nashville is the same as South College Street; and Vine Street is also known as First Christian Church.

Such is the nature of the sources.

All of this to say that compiling a Name Authority for the Nashville Christian Churches and Churches of Christ requires relentless sleuthing, sifting, comparing and hypothesizing.  It has been not only enjoyable but satisfying.  Five years between revisions is long enough.  One of my 2018 goals for this blog is to publish a third revised and corrected edition of the Name Authority.

*Nashville City Directory 1904. Nashville: Marshall and Bruce Company, 1904, p. 62 and Nashville City Directory 1905. Nashville: Marshall, Bruce, Polk Company, 1905, p. 35.



eScriptorium 2017 Year In Review

One of my goals for 2017 was to resume blogging.  My move to Abilene in early 2013 slowed posting; my family’s arrival in late July that year began a series of transitions that all but stopped my blogging.  We spent all our emotional energy and much of our time the remainder of 2013 settling into all things new: new home, new city, new jobs, new friends, new church, new routines, and a new son in April 2014.  That fall I went back to graduate school and completed a library degree in August 2016.

While I managed to generate a few posts in 2015-2016, the output really stagnated.  The numbers, though, did not.  I managed through regular posting in 2011 and 2012 to build a readership that topped 17,000 hits per year in both 2012 and 2013, up dramatically from about 6500-8000 per year in 2009-2010 and 3400 in 2008.  Overall, page views  moderated to about 10,000 per year (from about 4500 discrete users) in 2014-2016.  This was a decline, but a net gain of some 2000 page views more per year than the previous two years, with virtually no additional posts.  Yes, the number of hits dropped off, but much to my surprise they did not tank.  In fact, many posts about various Nashville Churches of Christ (congregations, persons, subjects, issues, etc.) kept generating hit after hit through Google searches.  I take it to mean that the material I blog about is of interest.  Ain’t none of this viral, but it seems folks are already looking for it, and they find it here.  In 2006-2007 when I began blogging more and more about Nashville Churches of Christ history I would not have predicted my readership map a decade later (after almost three years of inactivity) would look like this:

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 8.27.09 PM.png

Obviously the bulk of my readership is located in the US, but these countries are represented in 2017:

United States” 9242
Brazil 58
Canada 29
Philippines 28
India 27
United Kingdom 22
Norway 22
Australia 22
Singapore 20
Germany 19
South Africa 19
New Zealand 11
Japan 10
European Union 8
France 7
South Korea 7
Trinidad & Tobago 6
Italy 5
Mexico 5
Malaysia 4
Netherlands 4
Nigeria 4
Moldova 3
Ghana 3
Ireland 3
Belarus 3
Belgium 3
Ecuador 2
Malawi 2
Honduras 2
Thailand 2
Zambia 2
Vietnam 1
Lebanon 1
Turkey 1
Bulgaria 1
Dominican Republic 1
Indonesia 1
Haiti 1
Bahamas 1
Bhutan 1
Spain 1
Albania 1
Morocco 1
Romania 1
Hong Kong SAR China 1
Finland 1

Top Ten posts (with page views) for 2017 are:

1. Understanding Non-Institutional Churches of Christ: 350

2. Understanding Non-Sunday School Churches of Christ: 276

3. David Lipscomb: A Bibliography: 209

4. South Harpeth Church of Christ, Davidson County, Tennessee: 195

5. Nashville, The City of David (Lipscomb): Three Issues of Gospel Advocate Remember Lipscomb and His Legacy: 192

6. About: 145

7. Helpful Lectio Divina Quotes: 116

8. Facts Concerning the New Testament Church, a tract by P. H. Welshimer: 103

9. The Spoken Word: 93

10. Mack Wayne Craig visitor follow-up letter, Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ, Nashville, TN, 1958-59: 83

10. The Written Word: 83

The top spot goes again to Chris Cotten, whose guest post about noninstitutional first reads has proven to be the most enduringly popular post on my blog.  He has had the top spot each year for almost a decade now.  I can only surmise I should post less and garner more traffic, or simply redirect to his blog.  Congratulations again Chris!  In all seriousness, over the years I have made overtures to a few people for guest posts like Chris’ and no one has taken me up on the offer.

The remainder of the top ten list suggests I should spend more time in these areas:

  1. Assemble resources readers might find useful
  2. Add resources to my About Me, Spoken Word and Written Word pages
  3. Continue Nashville history including the oddball artifact, ephemera, or document

The most popular tags and categories are also revealing (also with page views or clicks):

  1. Nashville Churches of Christ: 221
  2. David Lipscomb: 209
  3. Nashville Bible School and Gospel Advocate: 208 each
  4. Nashville history: 207
  5. James A. Harding: 206
  6. Nashville Stone-Campbell sites: 204
  7. Joe McPherson, State and Local History, and David Lipscomb College: 196 each

Perhaps the most symbolic statistic reached this year is that in 2017 discrete visitors topped 25,000 (as of now 25,468 viewers) and total page views reached 101,196.

If you are brand new, welcome, take a look around.  If you are a regular, thank you for reading, even if my pace has been a bit off these last four years. I make no promises for 2018.  I would like to blog more regularly, and I think I will have a wider margin that can allow for it.  I even have some concrete ideas.  So let’s try to resume.  I invite you to read along with me this year.

A Charles Reign Scoville Precis

I thought this postcard sent by the Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company in 1913 would make an interesting holiday-themed post. I set about to compose a paragraph or two accompany it.


Postcard, Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, 1913, obverse


Postcard, Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, 1913, reverse

An afternoon later I had as an exhaustive bibliography as I could manage and almost three pages of biographical notes.  I would like to consult a few articles in Christian Standard and Christian-Evangelist before I publish the full biographical sketch.  That will have to wait until January when I am back in the office.  In the mean time here are a few scans of Scovilleiana and the bibliography.


Photograph of Charles Reign Scoville, obverse.  This card was likely mass-produced, ca. late 1910s.  It appears in Peters’ book.


Photograph of Charles Reign Scoville, reverse, bearing Scoville’s autograph.  This card was likely mass-produced, ca. late 1910s.

Scoville was active as an evangelist throughout his career. These scans are of ephemera from his 1906 Atchison, Kansas revivals.  The leaflet on baptism is from the middle-to-late 1910s and possibly circulated in response to criticism that his meetings downplayed baptism.


Invitation card, “Scoville Meetings”, Atchison Kansas, 1906, obverse


Invitation card, “Scoville Meetings”, Atchison Kansas, 1906, reverse


The Evangel, July 14, 1906, from First Christian Church, Atchison, Kansas advertising a Scoville Meeting, p. 1


The Evangel, July 14, 1906, from First Christian Church, Atchison, Kansas advertising a Scoville Meeting, p. 2


The Evangel, July 14, 1906, from First Christian Church, Atchison, Kansas advertising a Scoville Meeting, p. 3


The Evangel, July 14, 1906, from First Christian Church, Atchison, Kansas advertising a Scoville Meeting, p. 4


Invitation card, side 1, for “Women Only”, Atchison Kansas, 1906


Invitation card, side 2, for “Men Only”, Atchison Kansas, 1906


Leaflet on baptism used at Scoville meetings, ca. 1910s, obverse


Leaflet on baptism used at Scoville meetings, ca. 1910s, reverse

In 1906 he left congregational ministry in Chicago to devote his full time to evangelistic services. By 1909 he was regarded as one of the foremost national evangelists among the Disciples and exercised a leading role in the Pittsburg Centennial.


Prospectus of the 1909 Centennial Convention Report, front cover


Prospectus of the 1909 Centennial Convention Report, showing description of the climactic ‘Day of Evangelists’ moderated by Charles Reign Scoville.

From 1906-1921 he was heavily involved in hymnal publishing through the Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, which he sold to Standard Publishing Company in 1922. His publishing interests also included the ‘Cross-Reference Bible’ which he co-edited with Harold Monser and others.  First published in 1910, it was reprinted by Baker Book House as late as the 1970s.


Advertising prospectus, Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, Chicago, ca. 1912, front cover


Advertising prospectus, Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, Chicago, ca. 1912, title page.


Advertising prospectus, Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, Chicago, ca. 1912, rear cover


Advertising prospectus, Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, Chicago, ca. 1912, song specimen page, Scoville’s arrangement of Knowles Shaw’s ‘Bringing in the Sheaves’


Crowns of Rejoicing, hymnal compiled by Charles Reign Scoville, front cover.


Advertisement for Cross-Reference Bible, 1918 Yearbook of Churches of Christ (Disciples), Yearbook issue of American Home Missionary, p. 399.


Advertisement for ‘The King of Glory’ hymnal from Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, 1918 Yearbook of Churches of Christ (Disciples), Yearbook issue of American Home Missionary, p. 365.

When H. H. Peters published this ‘authorized biography’ Scoville was at the zenith of his influence and activity among the Disciples. He meetings regularly drew immense crowds, his preaching was in constant demand, and his activity in parachurch affairs was broad. W. T. Moore included him as one of a new generation of preachers featured in his New Living Pulpit in 1918.


W. T. Moore’s biographical sketch of Charles Reign Scoville, The New Living Pulpit of the Christian Church, 1918, p. 181


W. T. Moore’s biographical sketch of Charles Reign Scoville, The New Living Pulpit of the Christian Church, 1918, p. 182


H. H. Peters, Charles Reign Scoville: The Man and His Message, front cover


H. H. Peters, Charles Reign Scoville: The Man and His Message, title page


H. H. Peters, Charles Reign Scoville: The Man and His Message, illustration placing Scoville among “the four great evangelists” with Walter Scott, Knowles Shaw, and J. V. Updike


Portion of a long photograph (18″ long) from H. H. Peters, Charles Reign Scoville: The Man and His Message, showing the Melbourne Australia meeting.  Scoville standing at pulpit.


Photograph showing a Scoville Meeting.  Titled “Dr. Scoville Speaking to Men,” this card was likely mass-produced ca. late 1910s.   It appears, without the caption, in Peters’ book.



Acts of Apostles.

Parents: Please Read This Copy of a Letter Written by Dr. Scoville to Mr. and Mrs. Joslyn. [place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], [19–/]. 1 folded sheet ([3] pages).


Instructions for Workers in Gospel Meetings Conducted by Charles Reign Scoville. Jacksonville: Printed for the author from the Press of Henderson & DePew [1899]. 32p.

Compiled with Gabriel Charles H., J. E. Hawes, and W. E. M. Hackleman, Twentieth Century Songs, Part One, A Collection of New and Popular Sngs with Standard Hymns for Church, Sunday School, Young People’s Societies, and Special Services. Indianapolis: Hackleman Music Company, and Ada, Oklahoma: J. E. Hawes. 1900. 192p.

Evangelistic Sermons Delivered During the Great Meetings at Pittsburg and Des Moines Des Moines: Christian Union Publishing Company, 1902. 298p.

Gospel and Revival Sermons. 1904? 300p.

Calvary’s Praises, for Church, Sunday School and Gospel Meetings. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville, n.d. [ca. 1906] 256p.

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Paul, Ephesians iv, 5. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1906. 52p.

Compiled with Smith, DeLoss, Songs of the King. Chicago: Scoville & Smith, 1906. 247 hymns.

The Gospel of the Helping Hand: An Address Delivered as the New Orleans Convention, 1908. St. Louis: National Benevolent Association [1908]. 15p.

Every Christian An Evangelist. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, [ca. 1906]; reprinted [?] as Centennial Leaflet no. 2. [1908-1909?] 8p.

Edited with Excell, E. O., Christian Gospel Hymns, for Church, Sunday School, and Evangelistic Meetings, Contains the Cream of All the Old Songs and the Very Best of the New. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville, 1909. 224p.

Edited with Monser, H. E., J. W. Monser and D. R. Dungan. Cross-Reference Digest of Bible References, A Topical Index of the American Standard Edition of the Revised Bible. New York: Cross-Reference Bible Company, 1910. 681p. Various printings through 1910s. Reprint Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1960 and 1979 under title Monser’s Topical Index and Digest of the Bible.

Compiled with Excell, E. O., Crowns of Rejoicing, for Church, Sunday School, Evangelistic and Young People’s Meetings. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville, 1912. 224p.

Front Rank Songs, A Very Choice Collections of the Best Standard Hymns and Gospel Songs, for Sunday-School and All Religious Services. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville, 1913.

Sermon to Railroad Men: Also a Thesis on Hebrew Poetry. Chicago: [Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company?], [ca. 1914]. 13p.

Scoville’s Sacred Solos: Solos, Duets, and Quartettes. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville, [ca. 1915?]. 61 hymns.

Crown Hymns for Church, Sunday School, Revival and Chorus Choirs. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville Publishing Company, 1916. 36p.

Songs of Beulah. Chicago: Charles Reign Scoville, 1920.

Edited with Towner, D. B., King of Glory, Choice Gospel Hymns for the Church, Sunday School, and Evangelistic Meetings. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1923.

Compiled with Hackleman, W. E. M., et al., Wonder Hymns of Faith, A New General Purpose Song-Book Compiled by Charles Reign Scoville, W. E. M. Hackleman, J. E. Sturgis, orchestration by J. C. Blaker, Responsive Readings Selected by E. E. Violette. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, n.d. [ca. 1924]. 282 hymns.

Nineteenth Hundredth Anniversary of Pentecost. [ca. 1932-1933?] folder. 10p.


“Introduction,” in Coombs, J. V., Christian Evangelism. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1908, v-vii.

“Preaching of the Cross—the Power of God” in Moore, W. T., ed. The New Living Pulpit of the Christian Church. St. Louis: Christian Board of Publication, 1918, pp. 181-191. Includes portrait and biographical sketch.


Archival materials are held at Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Bethany, West Virginia. See note in Discipliana 25:5 (November 1965), 78, describing “six well-filled note books containing sermons, sermon notes, sermon outlines and clippings—all having to do with his evangelistic ministry….and a book in Dr. Scoville’s own hand in which he has alphabetized his sermon topics.”


Brown, L. E. Europe and the Orient: As We Saw It. Frankfort, IN: News-Banner Press, 1901. 96p.

Nichols, James Thomas. Story of the Des Moines Campaign in the Year Nineteen Hundred and Nine: With a Brief History of Our Churches in Des Moines. Des Moines: [publisher not identified], [1909?]. 78p.

Scoville Gospel Meetings: A Great Man-Making Community Uplifting, Soul-Winning Campaign, First Christian Church. Marion, IL: Republican-Leader, [1923]. 1 folded sheet ([4] pages), portraits

Peters, H. H. Charles Reign Scoville, The Man and His Message. St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1924. 401p. Illustrations.

Thornton, E. W., ed. Who’s Who in Churches of Christ, Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Ministers and Other Leaders, John T. Brown. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1929. Brief biographical sketch, with photograph, on p. 239.

Charles Reign Scoville, In Memoriam, October 14, 1869—January 23, 1938. 32p.

Horton, Roy. Visitation Evangelism. [United States] : [publisher not identified], [19–]. 96, 7 p. illustrations. Related to Scoville’s estate ‘Inspiration Point’ near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Horton, Roy F. Inspiration Point and Its Personalities. St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1961. 96p.

Brewer, Robert Sidney, The Preaching of Charles Reign Scoville in His Evangelistic Campaign in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1912. MA Thesis. Louisiana State University, 1966. vi, 173 leaves with illustrations and facsimiles.

Shaw, Wayne E., “Charles Reign Scoville: Awakening in Anderson,” in Krause, Mark S. Essays on the Restoration Plea In Honor of Dr. Harold W. Ford. Edmonds, WA: PSCC Litho, 1986.

Gresham, Charles and Keith P. Keeran, eds. Evangelistic Preaching. Joplin: College Press Publishing Company, 1991. 367p.

McAllister, Lester G. “Just As I Lived It,” Discipliana 53:4 (Winter 1993), 128, in which McAllister remembers a Scoville meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas 1923-1924.