Heritage Center Provides Access to Sources on Adventist History

Heritage Center Provides Access to Sources on Adventist History

From left, Nick Osborn and Smith Castillo get instruction on resources at the Adventist Heritage Center from Alfredo Vergel.

Since spring, the Adventist Heritage Center at Southwestern Adventist University has steadily improved access to its historical collections, making it easier to browse, search and request to view its holdings online.

Improved access means those interested in Adventist history no longer need to appear personally at the Adventist Heritage Center, located on the second floor of Southwestern’s Chan Shun Centennial Library, to find out what historical records are kept there. Rather, connecting to the Center on the web (heritage.swau.edu) now gives users instant access to its collection indexes. Patrons can also make an appointment online to view specific items.

For example, the Center’s Ellen White collection, which includes published volumes and copies of unpublished letters and other manuscripts by Ellen G. White (EGW) and other Adventist pioneers, can be browsed and searched with relative ease. Indexes in this collection include EGW’s letters and other manuscripts, letters received by her and her office, a bibliography of all EGW titles, items in her home and office libraries at the time of her death and the correspondence of W. C. White. The correspondence of other members of the White family is slated for electronic indexing too.

Other holdings are searchable online as well, including more than 2000 old and rare books, over 30 family collections, local newspapers, and some of the University’s permanent records. Especially noteworthy are the Rust Family Papers, documenting the lives of Adventist pioneers in Texas, including Civil War letters from one of its members.

Following the retirement of director Mary Ann Hadley in late 2009, the Center was left with a difficult-to-fill vacancy. Hadley’s knowledge of Adventist history, especially in the Southwest, her fund-raising connections and abilities, and her availability as a volunteer resulted in more than six years of intensive foundational and outreach activities. Building on the work of Southwestern’s librarians leading to the inauguration of the Center, Hadley oversaw the setup of the Center’s space, the acquisition and initial arrangement of collections, and the development of a network of supporters. Most remarkably, the number and variety of outreach activities under her leadership made the Center well known in the Southwest and captured the enthusiasm of Southwestern students who participated.

The current effort to improve access has been led by Special Collections Librarian Alfredo Vergel, who has been acting as interim director of the Ellen White Research Center since March 17, 2010. This effort has been made possible by Southwestern’s commitment to preserving and providing access to records related to Adventism and the contributions of generous supporters. Online easy-to-browse guides to online resources on Adventism and Ellen White are also a result.

As before, the Center continues to make presentations for congregations and schools as well as answer questions pertaining Adventist history and beliefs from church members and others. Questions can be emailed to heritage@swau.edu.

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