BW Description of the Project

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From Arnold D. Ehlert:

The question is frequently asked me, "How did you come to get interested in Brethren literature?" The answer is that while I was at Dallas Theological Seminary as librarian I had run across the problem of trying to identify some of the anonymously published works of the Brethren that we had there and works that bore only initials. I had tried to do some indexing of periodical articles in magazines that contained articles by these men and was challenged to try to identify them. This led to some research into the history of the movement. I remember discovering, for instance, that G.V.W. was George Vicesimus Wigram, because I read that the Vicesimus was an indication that he was the twentieth child in his family. Dallas had quite a few titles by Brethren writers, and we added quite a few more while I was there. The same has been true of the other two libraries where I have served: Fuller Theological Seminary, and the Biola Library which serves Biola College and Talbot Theological Seminary.

Another factor probably was that I had done the research on the genealogical history of Bibliotheca Sacra in connection with its centennial in 1943, and that project led me into the field of the history of religious magazines in America particularly. I was thus prepared to note with interest that very few of the Plymouth Brethren magazines have come to the attention of religious historians and bibliographers. The very illusiveness of the whole field intrigued me. It had never been worked bibliographically. I have not seen any bibliography of appreciable scope covering more than one author, and none at all that is in standard form according to the Library of Congress pattern of entry.

Material accumulated and encouragement came from a number of sources, and I have adopted the project as a sort of lifetime hobby. My records consist of a number of files. First, there is the name file. This is a file of writers only. I have included the names of those who have written separately published books, or pamphlets of four or more pages, the editors of Brethren periodicals, and translators of the Bible and portions of it. This is really a name authority file, and I have tried to get full names and dates of birth and death where possible. The source of the information is recorded. This list has been in process of compilation for over twenty years and represents the best efforts of authorities in the United States and Great Britain to identify authors associated with the assemblies. A Christian Brethren Research Fellowship was formed in the early '60s and some of its members have given considerable assistance.

The second file is the title file. I have recorded every title that I have discovered from any source that could reasonably be established as being written by a Brethren author. Where I have actually seen the book I have put the data in Library of Congress form. It is my purpose not to rest satisfied with any entry until I have had the book in my hand and made the entry bibliographically complete. It would be out of reason to reproduce his title list here. Such a list will be prepared as rapidly as time allows, but its publication in full would entail some problems.

The third file is a periodical list. I shall have more to say about this later.

The fourth file is a list of publishers of Brethren literature. I also have a list of writers that I have some reason to believe may have been associated with Brethren, but which I have not been able to establish definitely either as being, or as not being, Brethren. I also have a list of men who were definitely among Brethren, but that have not been established as writers, i.e., for whom I have no actual titles recorded. From time to time names are transferred from this list to the name file when I discover that they have written something.

Finally, I have a file of series of Brethren writings, and another of photographs and pictures of writers. My entire list has been checked against the British Museum Catalogue.

A list privately compiled in England has been acquired by the Biola Library. It consists of 5,120 manuscript leaves, one title to a leaf, although some leaves record only biographical information concerning authors, and there is a list of publishers and periodicals, and an index of abbreviations and symbols at the beginning, which takes up a couple hundred of leaves. This list is reported to have been compiled by Aubrey White.

It was purchased from him by C.A. Hammond's secondhand department in London and sold to David Campion of Birmingham, from whom it was obtained by the Biola Library after considerable negotiation. Hence, we call it the White-Campion list. A valuable feature of this list is that many of the authors are identified as to the group of the movement with which they were affiliated. This list, as well as my card file, are in the possession of the Biola Library.

2019 Update: Arnold Ehlert’s card file is in the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, and the White-Campion list is in the archives at Emmaus Bible College, as well as in my (Doug Engle) file, and will eventually be on Brethrenpedia.

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