Elbert Russell papers, 1893 - 1968

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Russell, Elbert, 1871-1951
Elbert Russell served as a Quaker historian, author, minister, and Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University from 1928 until 1941. Personal and professional papers contain correspondence, manuscript materials, sermons, articles and short writings, and clippings. Major subjects include Duke University Divinity School, study and teaching of the Bible, history of Quakerism, study and teaching of Quakerism, fellowship, study and teaching of pacifism, and sermons. Materials range in date from 1893-1968. English.
1.3 Linear Feet
1,000 Items
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates > 02 -- Individuals


Scope and content:

Contains materials pertaining to the personal and professional work of Elbert Russell, Quaker historian, author, minister, and Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University from 1928 to 1941. In addition to his sermons, articles and books, Russell authored many poems and a play. Much of the correspondence in the collection includes references to pacifism and concerns sermons, teaching, preaching, Quakerism, and formal publication of his writings. Some clippings and correspondence in the collection date from after Russell's death and discuss his life and work. These most likely were collected by colleagues or family members. Materials range in date from 1893-1968.

Biographical / historical:

Elbert Russell, Quaker historian, author, minister, and leader, was born in 1871 in Friendsville, Tennessee. He was educated at Earlham College (Richmond, Ind.) and the University of Chicago. After earning a degree at the University of Chicago (Ph.D.), he returned to teach religion at Earlham College from 1895 to 1915. Russell also taught at Johns Hopkins University, Woolman College, Haverford College, and Swarthmore College.

Russell joined the faculty of the Duke University Divinity School in 1926 as a professor of Biblical Interpretation. In 1929, he became Dean of the Divinity School. He served on the Executive Committee of Carolina Institute of International Relations and worked closely with colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to establish a network of specialists in nonviolent international relations. When he retired from the Divinity School in 1942, the Divinity School Alumni Association established the Elbert Russell Scholarship in his honor.

Russell was a prominent leader of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, a traditionally pacifist religious group. He was a guest speaker at Quaker educational institutions, a visiting preacher at churches and religious gatherings across the country, and a teacher of nonviolent conflict resolution. In 1927, he traveled to Central America in on a goodwill mission. After World War II, he traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East working on projects for his church and as a representative of the American Friends Services Committee. A pacifist, Russell had helped young men to defend their right to declare themselves conscientious objectors of war.

Some of Elbert Russell's writings include The Beatitudes (1929), The Book of Revelation: with an introduction, paraphrase and notes (1930), The Message of the Fourth Gospel (1932), A History of Quakerism (1942), and Elbert Russell, Quaker: an Autobiography (1956).

After retiring from Duke University in 1942, Russell and his family lived in Greensboro, N.C., Mobile, Ala., and St. Petersburg, Fla. Russell was married to Lieuetta Cox Russell, and had two children. Elbert Russell died in 1951 at age 80.

Acquisition information:
The Elbert Russell Papers were received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1966, 1968, and 1974.
Processing information:

Processed by Emily Glenn

Completed March 2003

Encoded by Jill Katte, September 2003

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Elbert Russell Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.