Congratulations to The History Center: Archives of the Baptist General Conference and Bethel University — named the 2014 recipient of the Davis C. Woolley Award for Outstanding Achievement in Assessing and Preserving Baptist History. This puts our archives in very good company, as last year’s winner was the special collections and archives department of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University.
In particular, I want to congratulate and thank my colleague Diana Magnuson, who serves as the BGC/Bethel archivist on top of teaching U.S. history at Bethel and researching the U.S. Census at the Minnesota Population Center. As a historian of Bethel myself, I couldn’t do what I do if it weren’t for Diana’s heroic efforts to preserve and present the history of our institution despite limited space, hours, and funds. And in the last five years Diana has worked closely with our digital librarian, Kent Gerber (who contributed a chapter on curation to our forthcoming book on Pietism and higher ed), to digitize a wide array of History Center holdings, including student publications, BGC annual reports, historic photographs, and books on Bethel and BGC history.
Most admirably, Diana has made The History Center a valuable resource for our students at Bethel. It’s given several of our History majors a chance to do original, archival research on topics like Bethel in the Vietnam Era and the experience of African American students and faculty at the school. Even better, Diana has given several of her teaching assistants the chance to work in the archives, where they’ve gained valuable skills and experience and had a chance to discern a calling to similar work in their professional lives. Last year one TA finished her master’s degree in records and information management at University College London; another (who earlier interned at the UK National Archives) has recently been accepted to four graduate programs; and a third is now completing an internship at a living history site here in the Twin Cities. In addition, the student with whom I’m conducting research this summer has worked extensively on the digitization projects.
(This award is also a tribute to the late Jim Spickelmier, who was such a strong advocate for The History Center before his death last fall, and to History Center supporters like the late Virgil Olson, whose family recently gave a major gift that will significantly aid in the ongoing digitization efforts.)
The Woolley Award will be presented early next month when the Baptist History & Heritage Society holds its annual conference in Sioux Falls, SD, on the theme “Exploring the ‘Other’ Baptists.”