Access to the archives and special collections for Emory & Henry College and the Hunt Collection, is provided in the Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr. Library & Research Room, located on the second floor of Kelly Library. Researchers who desire to use the collections should contact the library first to make an appointment. Complex reference questions will be answered as staff and time permit.
The College archives contain documents and ephemera that tell the story of Emory & Henry’s history, and include such items as the minutes of the board of trustees, faculty minutes, papers of previous College presidents and officers, student registers, and course catalogs. The Hunt Collection contains nearly 2,400 books dealing with theology and homiletics that belonged to Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr., Emory & Henry’s 14th president whom the Methodist Church elevated to the episcopacy in 1964.
Appalachian Oral History Project
The Appalachian Oral History Project (AOHP) began in 1970, and quickly grew into an interstate consortium between four schools in three states, Alice Lloyd College, Appalachian State University, Emory & Henry College, and Lees Junior College (now Hazard Community and Technical College). This project started as an initiative to collect recorded oral histories and folklore of the Central Appalachian Region. In its effort to grow and provide access to interested researchers, the project applied for and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant funded further collecting and cataloguing of AOHP materials, and the project has lasted for decades at E&H where it has become a significant student learning and engagement program. Dr. George Stevenson founded the E&H branch of the AOHP, and the student engagement branch of the project is currently under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Little.
Student involvement has generated data and materials for historians, folklorists, novelists, musicians, sociologists, and anthropologists. These students develop interviewing skills and learn about social problems of inequality, while also acquiring a large amount of historical information. Overall, the AOHP serves the academic needs and interests of students, faculty, and citizens and has fostered strong ties between E&H students and the community.
- Food and drink are not permitted under any circumstances in the Hunt Library and Research Room.
- As a matter of courtesy turn off cell phones while in the Hunt Library and Research Room. If you need to use your cell phone please do so outside the confines of the library.
- Patrons must consult with a Librarian before using a collection, and must conduct their research in the presence of a Librarian or library staff person.
- Researchers are not permitted in stack areas (those separate from research areas) for security reasons, nor may a researcher access a collection without the knowledge and consent of the library staff.
- At the researcher’s work space, the patron may only have a pencil and note cards or paper on which to write. Laptop computers may also be used. Briefcases, backpacks, purses, and similar items are not permitted in the research area. They must be left at the circulation desk or other designated area.
- Parts of collections may be photocopied for the researcher’s personal use; however, library staff will make the photocopies of the requested items for the patron. The library also reserves the right to refuse to make copies due to the physical condition of the item(s).
- Patrons must be aware that they are responsible for obtaining permission for quoting or making public use of the collections or information therein when the library does not hold copyright for the collection.
Bishop Hunt Library and Research Room
In 2004, Emory & Henry College’s Board of Trustees voted to rename the archives room of the College and the Holston Conference as The Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. Library and Research Room. They did so to honor a man who has meant a great deal to the College, the United Methodist Church, and to American Christianity.
Born on 14 September 1918, Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee, and attended local schools there. He entered East Tennessee State University in 1937, and graduated with a triple major and as class valedictorian in 1941. Later that same year he entered the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he received a bachelor of divinity degree.
Upon entering the Holston Conference he ministered at churches in Kingsport, Chattanooga, and Morristown. In 1956, just shy of his thirty-eighth birthday, the Holston Conference elevated him to the presidency of Emory & Henry College. During his tenure, which he described as “the eight most precious years of … ministry,” he oversaw a marked increase in enrollment. Under his leadership the college’s physical plant expanded with the additions of Wiley-Jackson Hall (women’s dormitory) Hillman Hall (men’s dormitory), Van Dyke Student Union, and Memorial Chapel. All these additions were then valued at approximately $2,750,000. He also negotiated and received the Frederick T. Kelly estate for the college, which made it possible to build a new library and president’s home. The Bays Blackwell Lectureship and the Richard Joshua Reynolds Lectureship were inaugurated during his presidency. He also oversaw the racial integration of Emory & Henry College.
In 1964 the Methodist Church elevated him to the episcopacy, and for the next twenty-four years he served his church as a bishop in the Western North Carolina Conference (twelve years), the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences (four years), and the Florida Conference (eight years). He also served the United Methodist Church as president of its Council of Bishops, as president of its General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and as president of the Foundation for Evangelism. In addition, he has served on the board of trustees for Bethune-Cookman College and Emory University.
In the winter of 2000, Bishop Hunt donated his personal library of nearly 2,400 books to Emory & Henry College. It is a collection rich in homiletics, pastoral counseling, theology, Methodist history, and biography. Books meant a great deal to him, and it was his wish that future generations might be able to use the collection by keeping it at Emory & Henry.
In making plans for their 50th reunion in 2007, members of E&H’s Class of 1957 decided to honor their former president by raising money to renovate the newly-named Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. Library and Research Room. They established a goal to raise $50,000 for the project. They ultimately surpassed the goal and collected over $56,000, which paid for new furniture, window treatments, lighting, flooring, a new ceiling, repainting, and refurbishment of shelving. The grand unveiling of the room took place on E&H’s Homecoming in October 2007, where many members of the Class of 1957, along with family and friends of Bishop Hunt, attended.
Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. died on 26 March 2005. He left behind a loving wife, son, and daughter-in-law, along with many close friends in Holston Conference, Western North Carolina Conference, Tennessee Conference, Florida Conference, and Emory & Henry College, to cherish his memory. Click here to read his obituary as it appeared in the spring 2005 Emory & Henry College Alumni Magazine.
Pictures of the Hunt Library Dedication, October 5, 2007
Hobie Cawood addressing members of the class of 1957 and friends
in the newly dedicated Hunt Library and Research Room
Bill Bennett (pictured in center with arms folded), co-chair of the
fundraising committee, preparing to officially hand over the room to
E&H President Reichard
Group shot of the members of the class of 1957 and friends
The plaque that hangs in the Hunt Room
Bishop Hunt Publications
During his ministry Bishop Hunt found the time to write the following works, many of which are still in print and are available through bookstores:
A Bishop Speaks His Mind: A Candid View Of United Methodism (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987).
Evangelism for a New Century (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1994).
I Have Believed: A Bishop Talks about His Faith (Nashville: Upper Room, 1980).
Prophetic Evangelist: The Living Legacy of Harry Denman (Nashville: Upper Room, 1993), edited with Ezra Earl Jones.
Recovering the Sacred: Papers from the Sanctuary and the Academy (Lake Junaluska, N.C.: Jonathan Creek Press, 1992).
Storms and Starlight: Bishops’ Messages on the Holy Spirit (Nashville: Tidings, 1974).
“A Study of the Evangelistic Message and Method of Dwight Lyman Moody”, Bachelor of Divinity thesis, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 1945.
Dr. James C. Logan wrote the definitive biography of Bishop Hunt under the title A Charge to Keep: The Life of Earl Gladstone Hunt, Jr. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000). Copies are available for sale though bookstores.
Civil War Cannonballs
Invented by the Chinese in the 12th century, the cannon was adopted as a weapon in Europe and Middle East in the 13th and 14th centuries, and played an important role in the American Civil War. Early cannonballs were made from dressed stone, but by the 17 th century, they were iron. Cannonballs could be explosive and packed with gunpowder, or solid iron projectiles that could cut a lethal swathe through buildings or advancing troops. Cannonballs like the ones in these photographs had a nonexplosive charge and were also called round shot.
These three cannon balls were donated to the Emory & Henry archives by W.N. Holbrook of Bristol, TN. The provenance of them is unknown The three cannon balls differ in size; the smallest one weighs 2 ½ pounds and is 8 ½ inches in circumference. The medium one is the heaviest of the three, weighing 6 pounds and measuring 11 ½ inches around. Although the small and medium cannon balls are completely round, the largest ball is lumpy and oddly shaped. It is also the lightest, weighing 5 ½ pounds and is 17 inches in circumference.
Cannonballs still turn up today in backyards, fields and construction sites where Civil War activity took place over 150 years ago. Or, as in the case of Folly Beach, SC, over a dozen cannonballs were uncovered by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. They were “live,” and had to be detonated by an area ordinance disposal team.
The only information available for the cannonballs is the name and city of the donor. If you have any additional information on these Civil War artifacts, please contact Kelly Library, 276.944.6208, or email AskALibrarian@ehc.edu.
Emory & Henry History and Finding Aids
The Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church – forerunner of the United Methodist Church – along with material and monetary assistance from citizens of Washington County and the surrounding region, established Emory & Henry College in 1836, thus making it the oldest institution of higher learning in southwest Virginia. The foundation for the main building was laid on 30 September 1836. The board of trustees hired Charles Collins (1838-1852) as the institution’s first president, and classes began in the spring of 1838 with 60 students enrolled.
Over the years the College has endured both good times and bad. The College closed its doors in April 1861 when the Civil War erupted. Although the Confederate government commandeered the campus in December 1862 and used the main building as a hospital, the College suffered no serious damage as a result of the war. In fact classes resumed just four months after Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
Under the leadership of its 18th president, Dr. Charles W. Sydnor Jr. (E&H class of 1965), the College began making great strides towards becoming a premier liberal arts college. During the Sydnor years (1984-1992) Emory & Henry tripled the size of its endowment and completed a major overhaul of its infrastructure which included the renovation and expansion of the Van Dyke Center. He also wrote the plan that modernized the College’s board of trustees.
Although it is more than 50 years old, the most comprehensive history of the College remains the late Dr. George Stevenson’s Increase in Excellence: A History of Emory and Henry College (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1963). Even though it is no longer in print, copies are available through one’s local public library via interlibrary loan. Those wishing to purchase a copy may do so by using www.bookfinder.com. It will direct one to those booksellers that have used copies for sale.
To commemorate Emory & Henry’s 175th anniversary, college archivist Robert Vejnar wrote Legacy & Vision: A Pictorial History of Emory & Henry College, which is available through the college’s bookstore. Vejnar also wrote “From a Bishop and a Patriot to a Bishop and a Saint: Rival Understandings of the Naming of Emory & Henry College” in The Smithfield Review.
Emory & Henry Finding Aids
Below are finding aids to those collections within the College archives that have been processed and are available for researchers to use.
This quilt was created in Elk Garden, Russell Country, Virginia in the late 1840s by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Hendricks, and was taken to California before the beginning of the twentieth century by one of her daughters. Mrs. Hendricks’s husband, Aaron Lilburn Hendricks, was a surveyor who drew the floral design, known as the Rose of Sharon. The quilt was made in the former home of the late Governor Harry C. Stuart, located in the Elk Garden / Rosedale area of Russell County. Mrs. Hendricks died in the year 1853, which makes the quilt over 160 years old. Virginia P. Maupin, who was a granddaughter of Mrs. Hendricks, returned the quilt to the area because she felt that it should be brought back to its original home in Virginia. This quilt served as inspiration for a hand-painted china design by Mrs. Mabel Cumbow Ruskin, founder and proprietor of the defunct Cumbow China Decorating Company (1933-1980) in Abingdon. Mrs. Ruskin was also a descendant of the Russell County Hendricks family.
The Cumbow China Decorating Shop had a modest beginning. Its owners, Mabel Cumbow Ruskin, a native of Washington County, Virginia, and Jacob Ruskin, a native of Basel, Switzerland, opened for business on Main Street with only twelve dozen pieces of china. They met while Jacob was on a business trip to Abingdon, and stayed in her mother’s boarding house. Originally a violin teacher, he had always been interested in china and this led him to working at the Brush Pottery Company of Zanesville, Ohio. His wife Mabel attended Stonewell Jackson College and then later attended the Chicago Art Institute. After the death of Jacob in 1938 Mabel kept the business open until her death in 1980.
So, the talent and skill of Mary Elizabeth Hendricks has been honored by her descendants –ones who protected the quilt for more than 160 years, and by being preserved as a china design.
Martha Washington College
Martha Washington College was established as an educational institution for young women by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows McCabe Lodge No. 56 in 1853 when they purchased land for the construction of the college. The name was chosen to honor George Washington’s wife as “a perfect model of womanly excellence,” as proclaimed by Colonel John Campbell.
The Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church took control of the project in 1858, and acquired the General Francis Preston’s circa-1830 residence to house the college. Used occasionally as a hospital (with some students serving as nurses) and a training ground for the “Washington Mounted Rifles,” Martha Washington College remained open during the Civil War, although its students were sometimes sent home or boarded in private Abingdon residences. The school merged with Emory & Henry College in 1918, and in 1921 it became a junior college. Due to a variety of factors it closed its doors in 1931. The structure remained vacant until 1935 (some accounts say 1937) when the former main building was transformed into the Martha Washington Inn.
Kelly Library houses some artifacts from “The Martha’s” days as a women’s college.
The first group of photographs are of a tea cup and saucer from Martha Washington College. According to Three Quarters of a Century at Martha Washington College by Claude D. Curtis (Bristol TN-VA, 1928), it is possibly “Martha’s Cup,” and is supposed to have come from an original set that belonged to Martha Custis Washington.
The second set of images is from various years of The Cameo, the annual of Martha Washington College.
The other photographs are of objects donated by Mrs. William L. Ditges from Abingdon, VA, probably in the 1970s: an aluminum ash tray with an engraving of Martha Washington College a china pitcher that was made in Germany with a painted image of the college, and a china vase.
Little is known about these objects; the only information available for the MWC ashtray, pitcher and vase is the name and city of the donor. If you have any additional information on these MWC artifacts, please contact Kelly Library, 276.944.6208, or email AskALibrarian@ehc.edu.
Useful Archival Links
- Library of Virginia in Richmond: http://www.lva.lib.va.us/.
- Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville: https://sos.tn.gov/tsla
- General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church: http://www.gcah.org.
- Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church: http://www.holston.org.
- Digital Library of Appalachia: http://dla.acaweb.org/.