Pastor Russell letters?

by vienne 6 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • vienne

    Most of those who read my comments and posts here know I'm not a Witness but a historian who writes about them. As my writing partner and I near completion of volume 2 of Separate Identity, we need scans of any letters, post cards or what have you written by Russell, any of his associates or any pre-1916 adherent - no matter how insignificant they may appear.

    Can you helps with this?

    We also need clear scans of Watch Tower convention programs from that era.

    I appreciate any help that comes my way.


  • slimboyfat

    I hope you find what you are looking for.

    You know, about ten years or so ago I saw the most amazing thing on eBay. It was a homemade Bible Student quiz/board game dating from before the First World War. Perhaps it had no direct connection to Russell himself, but it would have been a fascinating insight into early Bible Student ideas and social history. I have been kicking myself for not buying it ever since.

    Homemade Bible quizzes and board games have been quite popular among JW generally. I'd like to get my hands on anything of that sort, but this was a very early example.

    Would that sort of ephemera also be useful? I wonder if others come across that sort of thing.

  • Wasanelder Once
    Wasanelder Once
    This may seem simplistic but the Library of Congress has the complete set of Watchtower reprints as well as other WT publications. I went there before the internet and pulled up many WT from the 19th century to see if things I was told were true. I had visited Bethel but went to Maryland afterwards to visit "worldly" friends and I often took the underground from their place to downtown DC. It turns out a nearby congregation here in California had the complete set as well. I should have spent more time at the Smithsonian, I loved it.
  • vienne

    Wasa, thanks for that. We have a set of the reprints and we have a complete set of the originals as scans. They contain material left out of the reprints. But finding personal letters written by early adherents is very difficult. The best find so far had been two letters written by J. C. Sunderlin. Sunderlin was one of those sent to the UK to circulate Food for Thinking Christians. Letters and personal papers, when they can be found, often add imporatnt detail to our research.

  • reslight2

    I am not sure what you are looking for, but one can find all of Brother Russell's known extant published woks at:

    Other material may be found at:

    http// also has many items related to the Bible Students in Russell's time. Sometimes, however, they are hard to find when trying to use their search or other methods provided on the site.

  • vienne

    Thanks res. We have all that material. We have all the available publications including some not listed in most bibliographies. What I seek is the personal letters and papers of the principals. Not published material. I can't think of any material published before 1916 we do not have except for a few of the original Bible Students Tracts [1881]

    We do not have some of the anti-Russell polemics. Those are useful too. We gave very few letters written by Russell, and most of those we have are not especially useful. However, sometimes an off handed comment is an otherwise bland letter contributes to our understanding.

  • vienne

    Of course we want documents related to other participants in the Watch Tower movement. We found a tract published by B. W. Keith. We'll quote it in full in volume 3. We found a handwritten biography written by one of the earliest colporteurs. We will quote portions of it in volume 2. If you read volume 1 of Separate Identity you saw bits of letters written by J. C. Sunderlan. We have a portion of J. H. Patons diary. These are not regular printed publications. They're harder to find, and but give us insight into Watch Tower history in ways printed material does not.

    Items that may seem insignificant to you may add to our research in unexpected way. A letter to Paton printed in the 1913 World's Hope came our way. It changed everything we knew about an early adherent. We're rewriting a section of a chapter destined for vol 2.

    Never think anything is irrelevant.

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