John Lakin Brasher papers, 1857-1993 and undated 45 Linear Feet — 84 boxes
The John Lakin Brasher Papers, 1857-1993 and undated (bulk 1917-1970) are comprised of church-related and personal correspondence; records of the Iowa Holiness Association; records of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Alabama Conference; religious writings and speeches (including sermons, diaries and manuscripts of published works); printed material (tracts, religious brochures, serials, and hymnals); photographs (including many of camp meetings); transcriptions of tape recordings; legal papers; financial papers; and miscellany. Most material concerns the religious career of John L. Brasher; the Holiness (Sanctification) movement in the Methodist Church, particularly in Alabama; Holiness education and the administration of John H. Snead Seminary in Boaz, Ala.; and Central Holiness University (later John Fletcher College) in University Park, Ia.; and camp meetings in the South, particularly Alabama, and the Midwest. Includes biographies of clergy and accounts of religious and family life in rural north Alabama. Among correspondents are Joseph P. Owens, F. D. Leete, John Paul, and missionaries in Egypt, India, China, and Japan. Contains letters and printed material concerning the separation and reunification of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Brasher's activities as a minister are documented throughout the collection. The Correspondence and Transcriptions of Tape Recordings Series reveal Brasher's reflections on scripture and provide accounts of congregational reactions to his preaching. Transcripts of his sermons appear in the Writings and Speeches Series, Sermons Subseries as well as in the Transcriptions of Tape Recordings and in some of the published articles (Printed Material Series, Serials Subseries) and manuscripts of his books (Printed Material Series, The Way of Faith). His diaries and correspondence document his travels and his preaching engagements. Numerous invitations to preach and requests for guidance reflect Brasher's leadership role among ministers, missionaries, and church officials. Letters to and from converts regarding their religious experiences and responses to Brasher's preaching and writing are scattered throughout the Correspondence Series.
Brasher's administrative role in religious organizations and in church-affiliated educational facilities is well-represented in the Correspondence Series as well as in the Iowa Holiness Association Series and the Methodist Episcopal Church, Alabama Conference Series. Minutes, reports, and financial records are among the papers of these organizations, reflecting both Brasher's leadership and involvement and the activities of the organizations themselves. The Pictures Series includes some photographs of the schools with which Brasher was associated and of the attending students.
Brasher's career as an author is well-documented, not only in the Writings and Speeches Series, but throughout the collection. The Correspondence Series includes letters to and from his publishers and from editors of various religious serials to which Brasher contributed. The Printed Material Series contains many of these serials with articles by Brasher as well as tracts he wrote.
Throughout the collection, information on church history abounds. The Correspondence Series and the Methodist Episcopal Church, Alabama Conference Series in particular contain letters concerning the rivalry between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; and the eventual unification of the two organizations. Conflicts between Fundamentalist and Modernist ideas also appear in the correspondence and in the Printed Material Series.
As Historian of the Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Brasher wrote biographies of preachers, missionaries, and church officials involved in the Holiness Movement. These biographies appear in the Writings and Speeches Series, Biographical Sketches of Colleagues Subseries. Some of these biographies were published in Glimpses: Some Personal Glimpses of Holiness Preachers I Have Known, and with Whom I Have Labored in Evangelism, Who Have Answered to Their Names in the Roll Call of the Skies. Manuscripts of some of those appearing in the published work can be found in the Glimpses Subseries. Some of the letters and questionnaires from which Brasher wrote his sketches appear in the Methodist Episcopal Church, Alabama Conference Series, Biographical Information Subseries. The letters from which his information was gleaned vary in degree of detail, with some providing only dates and places of birth, marriage, ordination, etc.; and others giving descriptions of incidents in the religious life of the subject.
Correspondence, Pictures, Transcriptions of Tape Recordings, and the Family Biography Subseries of the Writings and Speeches Series document Brasher's life with his family. Brasher's biographical writings and other works in the Family Biography Subseries, and the Transcriptions of Tape Recordings Series also provide a small but rich glimpse into the traditional lore, customs, and folkways of the rural upland South.
Details of camp meetings are documented throughout the collection. The Transcripts of Tape Recordings Series contains transcripts of camp meetings. The Printed Material Series includes promotional literature for camp meetings; descriptions of facilities; and hymnals (some shape-note) used in these services. An unusual collection of copies of photographs of camp meetings from the early 1900's through the 1940's in Ohio, Iowa, Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Pennsylvania can be found in the Pictures Series.
The Boatman Family Papers, also housed in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, contains correspondence from John Lakin Brasher and other members of the Brasher family.