Explorations in Stone-Campbell Bibliography, # 11: First Reads in Bibliography

I scheduled a draft version of this post to post automatically on 27 December.  It snuck up on me and there were a few incorrect details and a good chunk lacking.  I have corrected those errors.  I shouldn’t schedule things to post in the future…

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No bibliography of Stone-Campbell material exists.

The closest thing is the combined card catalogs and online databases at several schools and institutions: DCHS, ACU’s Center for Restoration Studies and the Churches of Christ Heritage Center at Pepperdine, Harding University Graduate School of Religion Library, Christian Theological Seminary, Lipscomb University, Emmanuel School of Religion, Disciples Seminary Foundation, Bethany College Special Collections and Lexington Theological Seminary.  There are no doubt many Stone-Campbell items in other locations, but a combined catalog of the above will capture the majority of the stuff.

The first Curator of Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Claude Spencer (rest his soul), attempted to compile one.  His Author Catalog (1946) was built from the card catalog of the Henry Barton Robison Collection at Culver-Stockton College Library.  In other words, he started with what he had on the shelf…which wasn’t much at all.  From there he accomplished a monumental feat.  What he did with 3×5 cards and a sharp pencil, and a lot of miles traveled, can now be done with a few clicks of a mouse from your desktop.   He says this in the introduction:

This catalog grew out of necessity.  In 1924 the Library of Culver-Stockton College started a project to collect the literature produced by the religious groups which grew out of the reformation and restoration movements in the American religious scene in the early nineteenth century.  The project was handicapped from the start because of a lack of bibliographical tools which gave knowledge concerning the books and pamphlets that had been published.  The Literature of the Disciples of Christ, a study by J. W. Monser, 1906, and The Literature of the Disciples of Christ, by W. E. Garrison, 1922, were available but were far from comprehensive in scope and lacked the details necessary for use as a collecting and cataloguing guides. 

For several years the compiler worked on a want list, adding new titles as he found items in catalogs and periodicals; always making as complete an entry as possible for each title.  This want list combined with the catalog of books in the college library became the nucleus of An Author Catalog of Disciples of Christ and Related Religious Groups.  At first there was no intention to publish this listing as it was compiled  solely for use in the Henry Barton Robison Collection, the name by which the collectin of Disciples literature at Culver-Stockton was known.

The following libraries were visited during the preparation of the catalog: Bethany College, Butler University School of Religion, Christian Board of Publication, College of the Bible, The Disciples Divinity House, Drake University College of the Bible, The Gospel Advocate Company, The Kentucky Female Orphan Home, The Shepherd Library, The Standard Publishing Company, The United Christian Missionary Society, and The University of Chicago.

He arranged it alphabetically by author, giving place and date of birth and death where known.  He located the author with ‘c’ for Christian Church/Disciples and ‘cc’ for Churches of Christ so as to give us a basic orientation to the orbit in which the author moved.  For each author he listed “Separate titles, Analytics, Introductions, Joint works, Books edited and compiled, Joint editors and Books about” and followed standard library cataloging practice where his information allowed.

Spencer envisioned this project, which contains above 10,000 entries in 366 8.5 by 11 pages, to be the first step in a larger project…a union catalog of all known Stone-Campbell material.  Spencer envisioned all the material fully catalogued and cross-referenced according to the library or institution holding copies.  What Spencer was trying to do was to build a bibliographical skeleton upon which hundreds of years of research could be conducted with unprecedented ease and simplicity.  In the 1930’s much of what is now in libraries and archives was still in attics, basements and private collections.  And much of what is now known (thanks to Spencer) was then unknown.  If a name turns up in your reading you can ‘go to Spencer’ to see what, if anything, this person published…and there you go down a little research by-way.  Now you can go to WorldCat, but even so, I keep his Author Catalog within reach of my desk.  Spencer was a visionary with a heart for the researchers and scholars. 

But Spencer’s final check-list hasn’t materialized, and given this digital age we’re in, probably won’t and might not even be worth it to publish (I’d buy it, though!).  When Spencer passed in 1979 we lost the person who probably knew our literature the best.  Folks tell me Don Meredith and Don Haymes know Churches of Christ material like Claude knew the old Disciples stuff.  I’ve met both Don’s in person and we have corresponded by email.  They are indeed experts and their expertise has come, I’m sure, by spending years immersed in the material…handling it, reading it, cataloging it, noting variant printings and editions, and learing where such treasure comes to be stashed.  In this way they carry on in fine Spencerian tradition.

For the rest of us, we have to have some help in wading through the books.  Here’s my first attempt to bring together some of the places worth starting if you’re interested in Restoration literature.

Claude E. Spencer, An Author Catalog of Disciples of Christ and Related Religious Groups. Canton, MO: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1946.

Leslie R. Galbraith and Heather F. Day, The Disciples and American Culture, A Bibliography of Works by Disciples of Christ Members 1866-1984. ATLA Bibliography Series No. 26. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990.

There are a number of helpful resources for dissertations and periodicals which I will save for future posts.

These three surveys have helpful bibliographies:

Henry E. Webb, In Search of Christian Unity, A History of the Restoration Movement. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1990.

M. Eugene Boring, Disciples and the Bible, A History of Disciples Biblical Interpretation in North America.  St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1997.

D. Duane Cummins, The Disciples, A Struggle for Reformation. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2009.

As always, comments, suggestions and corrections earnestly solicited and eagerly received.

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2 thoughts on “Explorations in Stone-Campbell Bibliography, # 11: First Reads in Bibliography

  1. Mac –
    I look forward to checking this out. I appreciate the way you put together these kinds of resources. Speaking from experience at Harding Grad, Don Meredith does have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Church of Christ materials. Just read about your transition recently, and I pray that everything is well with you and your family. God bless you in future endeavors!

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