Guide to the John Lakin Brasher Papers, 1857-1993 and undated
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.
- Collection Number
- John Lakin Brasher papers
- 1857-1993 and undated
- Brasher, John Lakin, 1868-1971
- 45 Linear Feet, 33,750 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Correspondence, 1857-1993 and undated (bulk 1917-1970)
- Iowa Holiness Association Series, 1920-1922 and undated
- Methodist Episcopal Church, Alabama Conference Series, 1867-1943 and undated
- Writings and Speeches Series, 1890's-1968 and undated
- Printed Material Series, 1883-1973 and undated
- Transcriptions of Tape Recordings Series, 1950-1983.
- Financial Papers Series, 1855-1969 and undated
- Legal Papers Series, 1856-1963 and undated
- Pictures Series, 1870-1983 (bulk 1900-1950).
- Notebooks and Record Books Series, 1892-1902.
- Guest Books and Address Books Series, 1933-1957 and undated
- Datebooks Series, 1906-1965
- Miscellaneous Series, 1910-1970 and undated
- Oversize Materials
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
Publication of addition 2013-0075 requires special permission until Dec 31, 2023.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
Copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, consult with the reference archivist and see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], The Papers of John Lakin Brasher, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Handwritten and typed letters to and from Brasher concerning church business, personal business, family news, and the administration of John H. Snead Seminary and Central Holiness University. Arranged chronologically. The new accession includes many letters to/from John Lakin Brasher to James H. Brasher. The letters provide a snapshot of James' early life, his school work at Central Holiness University, on Altheia, and his social life. Later letters focus on James' career in the ministry. Other family members also figure greatly in the letters: Minnie, Leona, Luther, Eunice, Julius, friends, and “brothers” and “sisters” in the ministry. The letters continue unabated until John Lakin Brasher's death in 1971. Also includes restricted material, mainly correspondence between Minnie Moore Brasher and John Lakin Brasher, as well as other family members.
The majority of the letters are from John Lakin Brasher ( “papa” ) to Minnie Brasher ( “mama” ). Other family members also figure prominently: James and Joy, Luther, Leona, Elizabeth, Julius, Eunice amongst many others. But letters to/from family friends and other congregants are also present. The geographical origins of the letters vary from Jamestown, N.D. to London, K.Y. to Ozark, A.L. to Attala, A.L., as John Lakin Brasher traveled for his various ministry engagements. The subject of the frequent letters (sent several times a week) often focused on health, the farm, the weather, family news, business opportunities, and occasionally, politics. Also included are letters of condolence for Ruby and Johnny. Newspaper clippings were often also attached to letters.
Publication of this addition requires special permission until Dec 31, 2023.
Papers of the Iowa Holiness Association during Brasher's term as president of the organization. Divided into four subseries: Auxiliary Reports, Correspondence, Financial Papers, and Miscellaneous.
Reports from local auxiliaries to the Iowa Holiness Association. Most reports are handwritten on printed forms and provide names of officers, dues collected, and numbers of members. Arranged chronologically.
Original letters and copies to and from Brasher chiefly concerning the organization of camp meetings. Arranged chronologically.
Monthly financial reports, contracts for advertising, and invoices for materials purchased. Arranged chronologically.
Includes advertisement for camp meeting, list of camp meetings, a Statement of Doctrine for the Iowa Holiness Association, and a revision to the bylaws of the Iowa Holiness Association. Arranged chronologically
Records of the activities of the Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Includes biographical sketches of conference ministers and church officers and historical information about individual churches collected by Brasher from 1934 to 1936 while he served as historian for the conference. Divided into the following subseries: Annual Conference Minutes; Biographical Information; Church History; District and Charge Statistics; and Certificates and Licenses.
Typed copies of the proceedings of the Alabama Annual Conferences. Minutes from some years are not included. Arranged chronologically.
Biographies, varying in length and detail, of ministers and church officers within the Alabama conference. Many were handwritten on a printed questionnaire while some are handwritten in narrative form. Arranged chronologically by last name of the respondent.
Church histories, chiefly handwritten, of individual Methodist churches in Alabama. Includes a typed history of the Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church written by Brasher in 1936. Arranged alphabetically by the name of the church.
Statistical information regarding membership, baptism, property, and collections for Methodist churches in Alabama. Pages are numbered, although many pages are missing, and are arranged in numeric order.
Documents, chiefly issued to Brasher, granting him license to preach and perform holy ordinances and certifying his appointment to church offices. Arranged chronologically.
Works generally on religious and church-related topics, chiefly written by Brasher. Includes both published work and unpublished writings. Personal diaries and family histories and biographies of individual Brasher family members are also included. Divided into the following subseries: General Writings and Speeches by Brasher; Sermons and Sermon Notes; Diaries; Biographical Sketches of Colleagues; Family Biography; Glimpses; The Way of Faith; Tribute and Some Other Writings and Miscellaneous.
Speeches and addresses chiefly delivered by Brasher to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and other religious groups; and to organizations within John H. Snead Seminary and Central Holiness University and other educational institutions. Includes editorials and inspirational essays from religious publications. Marginalia indicates that some of these articles were also presented as speeches. Also includes chapel lectures given at God's Bible School, Cincinnati, O.H. Arranged chronologically.
Sermons and notes for sermons, typed and handwritten, by Brasher and others. Some copies. Sermons by Brasher and sermons by others arranged chronologically in separate sequences.
Bound, handwritten diaries in which Brasher recorded ideas and daily activities. There are no diaries for some years. Also includes James Brasher's daylogue from 1922-1924. Arranged chronologically.
Short biographies of ministers, church members, and religious educators, chiefly written by Brasher. Sketches vary in length and detail, and a few include memorial poetry. Many undated. Arranged alphabetically by last name of subject.
Biographies of Brasher family members, many written by Brasher in memory of deceased relatives. Includes autobiographies by Brasher. Biographies vary in length and detail. Works by Brasher are arranged chronologically by the date of writing. Works by others are arranged chronologically by date of writing in a separate folder. Includes copy of Giant of a Century Trail, a biography of Brasher written by Jon Tal Murphree in 1969.
Fragments of drafts and notes for Brasher's biographical work, Glimpses: Some Personal Glimpses of Holiness Preachers Whom I Have Known, and With Whom I Have Labored in Evangelism, Who Have Answered to Their Names in the Roll Call of the Skies (1954). Includes typescripts with marginalia and handwritten drafts. Each fragment is arranged in order of the page numbers assigned by Brasher. Material is undated.
Editorials and Sunday school lessons handwritten by Brasher for publication in The Way of Faith and Neglected Themes, a serial for which he served as editor. (For copies of the newsletter in this collection, see Printed Material: Serials). Arranged chronologically.
Published volume of memorial writings by Brasher. Most chapters concern deceased family members and fellow church officials.
Poetry and articles written by people other than Brasher. Most concern inspirational subjects. Some copies. Arranged chronologically.
Printed material, chiefly concerning religious topics, collected by Brasher. Divided into the following subseries: Serials; Pamphlets; Tracts; Hymnals; Yearbooks; Clippings; Camp Meetings; Promotional Literature; Programs; Reports and Newsletters; Railway Timetables; and Miscellaneous Printed Material.
Religious serials. Arranged by title, then chronologically for each publication. Issues are not sequential for all titles.
Pamphlets, chiefly concerning religious topics. Pamphlets are divided into five categories (Biographical, Doctrinal, Methodist, Nazarene, and Miscellaneous) and arranged chronologically within each category.
313 religious tracts concerning a wide variety of topics. Tracts are grouped according to author or publisher when a significant body of work by one author or publisher is represented in the collection. One envelope contains tracts on Pentecostal and Holiness topics. Most items are undated.
Bound shape-note and round note hymnals. Covers and pages missing from some items. Arranged chronologically.
Yearbooks from Central Holiness University, John Fletcher College, and Cleveland Bible College. Arranged alphabetically by title, then chronologically.
Clippings (with some photocopies) pertaining to Brasher and the organizations with which he was affiliated.
Programs, invitations, promotional literature, and certificates from camp meetings. Arranged chronologically. Also includes a handwritten and typed history of Brasher Springs Camp Meeting by John Lakin Brasher.
Literature advertising church services, institutions, organizations, and a variety of merchandise, both religious and secular. Arranged chronologically.
Programs for commencements, performances, and ceremonies at church-affiliated schools; programs for Holiness and Methodist conferences and ceremonies; and church bulletins. Arranged chronologically.
Conference reports; reports by churches and church agencies regarding projects or missions. Arranged chronologically.
Six timetables from railways including the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe; Southern Railway System; Missouri-Kansas-Texas Line; Delaware and Hudson; Rock Island; and Frisco. Arranged chronologically.
Postcards, maps, applications, instruction sheets. Arranged chronologically.
Transcriptions of tape recordings, chiefly of Brasher telling stories, delivering speeches, praying, and giving sermons. Includes transcripts of Bible lessons and taped letters by Brasher. Contains some transcripts of reminiscences of Brasher and speeches from the reception upon the donation of Brasher's papers to the Special Collections Department of Duke University. Pages are numbered, and an index to the transcript is included in box 63. A few pages are missing.
Receipts and accounts for personal and church-related expenses; insurance policies; property assessment; financial reports for churches and religious organizations. Some photocopies. Arranged chronologically. A separate folder contains financial papers relating to Brasher Springs Camp Meeting, John H. Snead Seminary, and Central Holiness University. Includes 23 small ledger and account books for both personal and church related expenses.
Documents granting power of attorney; indenture records; land records; record of postal appointment; contracts; records concerning the contribution of land to establish Brasher Springs Camp Meeting. Arranged chronologically.
Chiefly copies of original photographs of John L. Brasher; his family; and Holiness preachers. Photographs of the staff and students of John F. Snead Seminary and Central Holiness University are included. Includes several photographs of camp meetings. Photocopies of photographs and a few pictures removed from printed works are included. Photographs are numbered and arranged in numeric order. List of photographs in box.
Volumes containing membership rolls of churches and church organizations; salary and financial records; birth and baptismal records; funeral records; and personal memoranda. Some volumes concern churches where Brasher preached, while many are unidentified. A few notebooks kept by John L. Brasher's son Paul are included. Arranged chronologically.
Six bound volumes, most unidentified, listing names and addresses. Arranged chronologically.
53 pocket-sized datebooks in which Brasher recorded appointments, travels, and speaking engagements. Some entries record sermon texts. Arranged chronologically.
Questionnaires, notes, lists of names, seating charts, receipts, commencement announcements, a short typed story from James Brasher's effects, subscription forms, etc. Most items undated.
|1868, July 20||
Born at Clear Creek, Etowah County, Alabama; baptized at Alabama Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church during same year
Joined Clear Creek Methodist Episcopal Church
Licensed to preach
|1890, Dec. 21||
Married Minnie Eunice Moore in Alabama of Gallant, Alabama
Joined Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Four years of ministry on Wedowee Circuit in Alabama
Ordained deacon by Bishop Isaac W. Joyce
Ordained elder by Bishop John Fletcher Hurst
Graduated from U.S. Grant School of Theology in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Valedictorian
Served as pastor of Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church of Birmingham, Ala.
Secretary of the Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Served as pastor of St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church of Boaz, Ala.
President of John H. Snead Seminary at Boaz, Ala.
President of Central Holiness University (later John Fletcher College) in Oskaloosa, Iowa
Pastor at St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church in Boaz, Ala.
Editor, The Way of Faith
Established Brasher Springs Camp Meeting, Gallant, Alabama
Retired; continued preaching frequently at Brasher Springs Camp Meeting and in various conference churches and camp meetings throughout the country
|1971, Jan. 25||
Died near Attalla, Ala.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Brasher, John Lakin, 1868-1971
- Central Holiness University
- Iowa Holiness Association
- John Fletcher College
- John H. Snead Seminary
- Leete, Frederick Deland, 1866-1958
- Methodist Episcopal Church -- Alabama
- Methodist Episcopal Church -- Clergy -- Biography
- Methodist Episcopal Church -- Sermons
- Methodist Episcopal Church, South
- Owens, Joseph Parkes, 1886-
- Paul, John H. (John Haywood), 1877-1967
- Camp meetings
- Evangelistic work -- History
- Holiness churches -- Education
- Holiness churches -- Alabama
- Holiness churches -- Clergy -- Biography
- Holiness churches -- Sermons
- Missionaries -- Correspondence
- Methodist Church -- Periodicals
- Preaching -- History
- Shape note hymnals
The papers of John Lakin Brasher (1868-1971), preacher, evangelist, and leader of the Holiness movement, were donated to the Rubenstein Library by The Brasher Heritage Corporation in 1981, with later additions in 1997, 1998, 2004, and 2013.
Processed by: Melissa J. Delbridge, Denise Dolan, Daniel Daily, Sandra Polaski, Chad Truelove, Randy Bryant, Joanne Fairhurst
Completed September 30, 1992 and reprocessed November 14th, 2013
Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller
Finding aid updated to include additions 1997-0187, 1998-0434, and 2008-0171 by Alice Poffinberger, August 3, 2009; updated to include addition 2013-0075 by Rachel Penniman, May 3, 2013.