Special Collections

Members Present

  • Kristy Sorensen, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
  • Mitzi Budde, Virginia Theological Seminary
  • David Buresh, Virginia Theological Seminary
  • W. Field, William Booth College, Salvation Army, London
  • Ellen Frost, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
  • Dustin Kelley, George Fox University
  • Liz Leahy, Azusa Pacific Seminary
  • Erica Pye, Abilene Christian University
  • Derek Rieckens, Catholic Theological Union
  • Brian Shetler, Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Lolana Thompson, Dallas Theological Seminary


Meeting agenda and summary of discussion.

  1. Introductions
  2. Reflections on Atla in Fort Worth (or virtual Atla)
    1. Folks who attended in person missed having the repository tours that were part of past meetings. Liz Leahy is on the planning committee for Atla Annual in Long Beach next year and may see if our group could sponsor a tour for any Atla member to attend. In the past, she organized a tour of the Huntington Library that was very interesting.
    2. Several sessions were mentioned, and members were encouraged to check out the recordings, which should be available in mid-to-late July, including the session on primary source instruction using rare books and the discussion of Atla Digitization grants.
  3. Round Robin reports (see below)
  4. Ideas for this coming year
    1. Rejuvenate the discussion list (scig-l@atlanow.com). Alexis Weiss collected emails from the people on the call to add to the list. Additional people who would like to be added to the list can email connect@atla.com with their request. Kristy will be set up as the moderator for the list. Use the list to share professional development opportunities, news of interest, and as a place to ask questions and start conversations.
    2. Jérémie LeBlanc (the Atla board president) has been involved in the Special Collections Interest group in the past and would be supportive of us hosting a webinar or other activity relating to our group.
  5. Adjourn

Year in Review

Highlights and/or summary of your group’s activities over the past year.

  • No specific activities this past year.

Round Robin Reports

Abilene Christian University –This past year the library hosted the Christian College Librarians (CCL) conference and is working on a large project to transfer audio recordings from a substantial donation into their institutional repository. In addition, the Waynai Bible has recently come back to Abilene Christian after being on a traveling exhibit, and it is bringing a lot of people down into the archives.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Among other projects, the Austin Seminary Archives partnered with the Presbyterian Historical Society to have material from the Texas Migrant Ministry collection and session minutes from the Texas-Mexican Presbytery records digitized, making this content more widely available to researchers.

Azusa Pacific Seminary – Work continues on the 16 pallets of material that comprise the Henrietta Mears collection, including assisting two different film crews who have been on campus working on films of Mears’s life. Another librarian has been taking classes in archives and will be able to start helping with digitization soon. In addition, the staff is getting started in contributing to JSTOR Open Community Collections.

Catholic Theological Union – Over the past year, the archivist has worked to convert binders of paper inventories and collection records into a newly deployed ArchivesSpace instance. The CTU library is also beginning a remodeling project to accommodate offices for McCormick and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. The archives is gaining much-needed square footage as part of the project, some of which is being filled with rare books being moved out of the open stacks and material that other faculty and staff have dug up as they move their own offices.

George Fox University – The archives is really starting to open back up post-pandemic and after a staffing transition. The new archivist is currently working on reviewing inventory documents and identifying high-priority collections for more intensive processing. Recently they were able to work with a Native tribe in Alaska to identify tribal materials in their collection that had been donated by missionaries; they have now respectfully returned the materials to the tribe. They look forward to working with additional tribal representatives in the future as they continue to review their collections.

Perkins School of Theology – Perkins hosted a three-day exhibit in April of the Codex Sassoon, the earliest and most complete Hebrew Bible, before it went up for auction. The exhibit, which included Bible treasures from the Bridwell Library alongside the codex, drew many visitors. In addition, the Bridwell Library was chosen as the home for the collections of the recently closed World Methodist Museum, and they are working to digitize material from that collection. In addition to manuscript material, the collection includes many portraits and objects (like John Wesley figurines!). They are looking into creating exhibit space to house a rotating display of that material.

Princeton Theological Seminary – Like George Fox University, Princeton Theological Seminary has also been working with a group to return tribal materials to Alaska, a project Brian was able to present at the recent World Christianity Conference. The archives is hard at work increasing their digitization projects and contributing material to the Seminary’s Theological Commons site, thanks to a new scanner. Speaking of new equipment, in July they welcomed some new exhibit cases to the archives with dimmable lighting! They are also working to re-inventory their cuneiform collection and produce higher-quality photographs of the items. Recently they also started working to pull lists of all their 17th century books as part of an update to the Universal Short Title Catalogue. Finally, the archivist is looking forward to presenting at the upcoming Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) conference on a panel discussing provenance and archival documentation, and he will also have a chapter on special collections in an upcoming Atla publication on theological librarianship during the pandemic.

Virginia Theological Seminary – The Seminary recently hired a cataloger and rare book curator, their first time having a librarian with a specialty in rare books. They are now affiliated with the General Theological Seminary in New York City, which has a much larger rare books collection, as well as an institutional archival collection. They are working to inventory the collection and develop a plan for the care and access of the rare books and archives collections for both schools.

William Booth College, Salvation Army (London) – The staff created unique programming for Women’s History Month featuring female Salvation Army officers based out of Egypt. The programming included an archival display and tied it into a worship service. They are also celebrating the success of a co-worker who moved on to a new position in a larger institution.