When The Day’s Work Is Done: The George W. Truett Sermons Project, Complete

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G.W. Truett's signature from a letter dated January 3, 1942. Digital image from an original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX

G.W. Truett’s signature from a letter dated January 3, 1942. Digital image from an original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX

 

If you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you’ll no doubt remember that we’ve been talking about the George W. Truett Sermons project for quite some time. From their original arrival in late 2012 to an exploration of the story behind their original recording and broadcast via a Mexican “border blaster” radio station, we’ve documented these amazing discs’ life from creation to long-term preservation and 21st century access. On a personal level, I have invested hundreds of hours in the creation of metadata, transcripts, images and digital archival objects for this collection, so it comes as a big point of personal and professional pride to announce that the project is officially complete! (FIRE THE CANNON!)

The project (which also includes 26 commercially produced albums released by Word Records in 1966) presents the largest known collection of Dr. Truett’s unedited sermons in a single source, with a major emphasis on the final years of his life, 1941-1943. Users can now listen to the original audio, view images of the 16″ radio transcription discs, read full transcripts and explore the enduring genius of Dr. Truett’s messages all in one simple interface. The amount of metadata associated with each sermon, as well as the presence of full-text transcriptions, means greater discoverability via online search engines like Google and Yahoo!, making it more likely that these priceless resources will find their way into the hearts and minds of researchers, seekers and the curious alike for generations.

 

By The Numbers

* 66 total sermons (57 full sermons, 9 sermon segments)

* 258,359 total words generated during transcription process

* 33 hours of audio content

* 74 major Scriptures referenced (39 from the Old Testament, 35 from the New Testament

 

Interesting Findings

Dr. Truett most frequently cited from the books of 2 Chronicles, the Psalms, 1 Corinthians, Romans and the Gospel of Luke. His most frequently cited passage overall was a three-way tie between 2 Chronicles 29:27, Psalm 43 and Romans 8:28.

– The sermons are loaded with quotations from sources named (John Bunyan, David Livingstone, Martin Luther, John Wesley, William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt, to name but a few) and unnamed (Oscar Wilde’s definition of the word “cynic” is cited at least twice without his being named the source). Dr. Truett also frequently quotes poetry and the lyrics to hymns, most often without naming their author or lyricist. Whether this was a simple omission or the result of an assumption on his part that his audience would be familiar with the source of these words is unclear.

– Three voices other than Dr. Truett’s are heard in the course of the recordings:

  • “Brother Coleman,” assumed to be either an associate minister or perhaps a lay reader, delivers a prayer in the sermon titled, “Prayer and Personal Witness for Christ” on March 31, 1941.
  • Several sermons capture brief moments of singing at the conclusion of the recording, and we are presented of the dual treats of the First Baptist Choir and organist, as well as Dr. Truett’s enthusiastic vocal stylings.
  • Throughout the sermons, at times of particular emphasis or emotion, we hear an unidentified man utter a heartfelt, “Amen!” His voice is deep and reverential, at times almost mournful. Because of the clarity of his voice in the recordings, it is assumed that he is an associate pastor or some other member of the church staff with a seat very near to the pulpit. Though he never offers more than his simple statement of agreement, his voice is as indelibly a part of these sermons’ fabric as that of Dr. Truett himself.

– There are two separate sermons, delivered a little more than a year apart, in which Dr. Truett cites “reports” that the wives of poor farmers make up the largest proportions of populations in insane asylums “than any other group in the country.” He blames this sad condition on the fact that these women lead lives of dull monotony, with the daily routines of farm living providing no hope or encouragement but plenty of hardship, so much so that a complete mental breakdown was all but inevitable.

I was able to trace this story back to a widespread assertion made by several reform-minded speakers in the early 19th century, but the claim was debunked by a Dr. George W. Groff (director of a sanitarium) whose report to the 1909 annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Board of Agriculture rebutted these rumors with specific statistics and the opinion of a professional in the field. It is interesting to see how, even thirty years later, those rumors were still being presented as truth by even educated men like Dr. Truett.

These are just a few of the interesting items I came across in the two years our team spent creating this collection, but there are no doubt many, many more hidden gems, major revelations and eye-opening statements to be found. We encourage you to dig deep and find your own, and please drop us a line (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu) with anything you think should be highlighted in this blog, on our social media sites or elsewhere.

We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering this collection as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it, and we welcome your feedback at any time. And if the mood strikes, please share this post – or our other social media outlets – with anyone you think would be interested in this collection. We want to ensure it gets the kind of exposure it deserves, a goal that Dr. Truett would surely agree is a “worthy ambition.”


You can access the full George W. Truett Sermons Collection here, and be sure to follow the @GWTruettSermons Twitter stream for twice-weekly excerpts from the collection. A special thanks to our friends at the Crouch Fine Arts Library and The Texas Collection for their contributions to this project.

“Watch and Pray” – A Look at The ‘Baptist Argus’ Collection, Part I

On October 28, 1897, a new publication released its first issue, and it would go on to influence thousands of lives in the Baptist world over the course of decades. Today, we are adding the first installment of three decades’ worth of The Baptist Argus (later The Baptist World) to our digital collections. In this blog post, we’ll introduce the collection and look at a few key instances of coverage given to the goings on at Baylor University (and our sister institution, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, or Baylor Female College) from 1897 to 1911. Later, we’ll blog about the years 1912-1923.

Before we get too far along, we want to give our thanks to the fine people at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for their partnership in this project. It is their physical copies of The Baptist Argus that we are digitizing for this digital archive, and their partnership and patience with the process are greatly appreciated.

A Voice for Baptists

The Baptist Argus began publication in Louisville, Kentucky in fall of 1897. It featured a blend of news coverage, biographical sketches, prayers and a continuously updated listing of preachers and their new (or former) appointments. The front page of each issue almost always featured a woodcut illustration of a major Baptist luminary.

"The Baptist Argus," Vol. 1, No. 1 - March 28, 1897.

“The Baptist Argus,” Vol. 1, No. 1 – March 28, 1897.

In 1909, the Argus changed its name to The Baptist World. The new name came with a new motto as well, changing from “Watch and Pray” to “Christ for the World, the World for Christ.” Though the layout and content would remain the same, the new emphasis on global church affairs would have greater resonance as the world entered into a state of global conflict in 1914.

We think this resource will provide rich insight into the development of late 19th- and early 20th-century southern Baptists, in particular, the importance of the church’s influence on world affairs. But of interest to historians of Texas Baptist history, it’s the look at developments related to Baylor, Mary Hardin-Baylor and associated institutions (like Waco’s First Baptist Church) that we think will be most valuable.

Baylor in the Argus

Here are just a few of the earliest mentions of Baylor University and some of its big names from the pages of The Baptist Argus. Click on the links to access the full issue for more information.

  • Baylor University has a new department – Correspondence instruction. Prof. John T. Tanner will have charge. (November 25, 1897)
  • Dr. J.M. Carroll has resigned at Baylor Female College to re-enter the pastorate. (January 6, 1898)
  • The Texas Educational Commission arranged the basis of union as follows: Baylor University is to be really a university, and the others preparatory schools of high grade. (March 17, 1898)
  • Baylor University has secured Rev. J.W. Staton as Ministerial Education Agent (March 31, 1898)
  • Baylor College Alumni elected Rev. H.C. Gleiss President (June 23, 1898)

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In Part II of this topic (which will come when we add the years 1912-1923), we’ll conclude our look at The Baptist Argus/The Baptist World as it looked in that time. We encourage you to explore The Baptist Argus collection and tell us about the treasures you unearth there. We hope you’ll agree that it’s got tons of potential, and we’re proud to host its digital presence on the Web. You’ll find it nowhere else but the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!