All SBC annuals now searchable online
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
September 08, 2011

All SBC annuals now searchable online

All SBC annuals now searchable online
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
September 08, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – SBC annuals dating to 1845 now are

available online in a searchable PDF format following a joint digitization

project by the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives and Baylor

University Central Libraries.

The 154 volumes represent a valuable resource for both scholarly research and

personal information, said Bill Sumners, director of the Southern Baptist

Historical Library and Archives.

“The SBC annual is a basic document for Southern Baptist history. All the major

events that have happened within the convention are documented in the annuals,”

Sumners said.

The annuals are a key source for students engaged in dissertation research as

well as people who, for example, might want to learn about an ancestor who was

a Baptist minister years ago.

Sumners said the annuals also might be accessed in looking for an answer to

questions like, “How have Southern Baptists addressed issues like the social

gospel?” or “What kind of work was the Home Mission Board (now North American

Mission Board) doing in Appalachia or among immigrants?”

Not only are the SBC annuals valuable as a record of the history and actions of

the Southern Baptist Convention, but the early years contain the texts of

speeches and sermons as well as useful statistics, said Kathy Robinson Hillman,

director of special collections for Baylor University Central Libraries.

“Some of the earlier issues, particularly those from the 1800s, have limited

availability even in the United States,” Hillman said. “Reports by boards,

agencies and seminaries document shifts in focus and expansion of missions and

education in the convention. Certainly, anyone studying American religion or

Baptists in the United States will be able to utilize these documents in their


The annual publication records business actions taken during convention

gatherings, including entity reports, pertinent statistics, state convention

information, and lists of staff, trustees and committees, according to the

SBHLA website. A minister list appearing at the end of certain annuals includes

pastors, ministers of education, ministers of youth, associate ministers,

mission pastors, ordained ministers, chaplains, and evangelists.

The partnership project with Baylor began in June 2010, after the Southern

Baptist Historical Library and Archives concluded a two-year project of

scanning archived Baptist Press articles dating between 1948 and 1996, Sumners

said. The actual scanning of the annuals, funded by Baylor, started in August

2010. The Executive Committee provided funding to make the results searchable

and to post them on the Internet in July 2011.

Conducting the project in partnership with Baylor was crucial because scanning

the 75,366 pages of material would have been “a bit overwhelming” for an

organization with a small staff like his, Sumners said.

“It was a very cooperative endeavor. Baylor had excellent scanning equipment we

did not have. They offered to do all the scanning and enter the metadata and

get them ready to load onto the website,” Sumners said. “We provided some of

the annuals from our collection and Baylor provided the others. We worked with

the Executive Committee to get permissions to do the scanning and put them up

on the website. Hopefully people who use it will be pleased.”

Hillman agreed: “The Baylor University Libraries are pleased to have cooperated

in the SBC annuals digitization project. Partnering made possible what would

have been a difficult process for either Baylor or the Southern Baptist

Historical Library and Archives.”

To access the files, visit www.sbhla.org

and click on Collections to find “SBC Annuals” on the list. The archives can be

searched using names, keywords or phrases. The files are indexed through Google

Search and can be located through that search utility as well.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Kelly is senior writer and an assistant editor for

Baptist Press.)