(Digital Collections) Fire the Celebratory Cannon! The Tull Sermons Project Reaches Completion

With all due respect to the brave men at the Battle of Gonzales, we think this version of the flag is pretty great, too.

For years now, our boss, Assistant Director Darryl Stuhr, has joked that we need a cannon to fire every time we finish up a large project. Since he made that comment, we’ve launched a massive campus newspaper project, put more than 80 years’ worth of campus yearbooks online, and brought numerous other small projects from the archival box to the Internet. Needless to say, any cannon we acquire will need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Today, we’re firing the cannon to celebrate the completion of the Selsus E. Tull Sermons Collection. Just to refresh your memory, Dr. Tull was one of the premier Southern Baptist ministers of the first half of the 20th century, spreading the Gospel from Texas to Arkansas to Florida and back several times over. His handwritten sermon notes touch on topics ranging from the proper way to run a Sunday school program to unmasking the Antichrist and everything in between. For a fuller look at Dr. Tull’s collection, see our blog post from last summer or read his bio on the collection’s landing page.

What’s in the Box?

One of the original wooden boxes that housed Dr. Tull’s sermons.

When we first brought the sermons to the Riley Center back in 2011, they arrived in the original boxes in which Dr. Tull stored them for decades. These varnished wooden boxes were handsomely crafted and in great shape for being more than 50 years old, but they contain chemicals that, over time, could leach out of the wood and damage the envelopes and pages of the sermon notes, so we knew part of the process would include rehousing them in acid-free folders and archival boxes.

The after and before of the sermons’ storage situation.

Because of the compact way the sermons were housed in these wooden boxes, we actually expanded from four boxes’ worth of storage to 12 archival boxes, but the added amount of linear feet is worth the investment to ensure these one-of-a-kind treasures are safe for years to come.

Graduate assistant Chelsea Ferwerda (Museum Studies, 2013 graduation expected) stands with the newly rehoused sermons. Chelsea organized the sermons into their new boxes based on the IDs assigned to them during the digitization process.

The Work of a “Cloud of Witnesses”

This project, which spanned more than two years and multiple sets of student and graduate workers – as well as staff time – was truly a group effort. To wit, the following folks worked on the project at some point in time:

–       Rachel (Carson) DeShong

–       Sarah (Minott) Dodson

–       Chelsea Ferwerda

–       Hannah Kirkhart

–       Elizabeth Edwards

–       Sierra Wilson

–       Hannah Haney

–       Jadi Chapman

–       Allyson Riley

–       Eric Ames

We are truly grateful for the work of all these folks because today, we can unveil a truly unique digital asset to the world.

The finished beauties, ready to return to the archives from whence they came.

Over the next few days, I’ll be working to curate the digital assets and add some additional functionality to the collection – including a way to search quickly by which state Tull was pastoring in when he delivered a sermon, collections of sermons based on particular books of the Bible, etc. – but for now, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating the end of a long journey from wooden box to search box.

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