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Hilrie Shelton Smith papers, 1941-1983 2 Linear Feet — 1,500 Items

Hilrie Shelton Smith began his long association with Duke University in 1931 as Professor of Religious Education. He remained at Duke until his retirement in 1963. He H. Shelton Smith was an expert on American religious thought and was considered the dean of American ecclesiastical thought and history. His collection contains material pertaining to his life including materials such as Smith's correspondence with colleagues; the correspondence and printed reviews concerning his individual books; and his sermons, addresses, and lectures. Materials in the collection date from 1941-1983.

Collection contains material pertaining to the life and career of H. Shelton Smith. Subjects addressed in the collection include the name change of the School of Religion to the Divinity School in 1941, the origins of the Kearns fellowships and professorships, and the N.C. Council of Churches. However, the bulk of the material consists of Smith's correspondence with colleagues; the correspondence and printed reviews concerning his individual books; and his sermons, addresses, and lectures.

Among his correspondents are Jimmy Carter, Theodore Hesburgh, Perry Miller, Reinhold Niebuhr, Roland Bainton, Paul Ramsey, John Hope Franklin, and Paul Green. The folders entitled "Publications: Correspondence and Reviews" contain substantive discussions and descriptions of theological trends contemporary with the times in which the books were published. The folder "Correspondence 1966-1982" contains letters from friends and colleagues that often mention theological and political issues in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

The sermons and addresses deal not only with race but also with general politics, and include a condemnation of U.S. involvement with Indochina. The lectures and unpublished writings are largely or elucidations of many of the themes he has touched on in published works, including the Southern mind, race and the Southern church, the concepts of original sin and Christology, and the general history of American theology. Five folders contain course lecture notes in typed form on similar topics, but also include notes for a course in the American Social Gospel.