Guide to the Pool Family Papers, 1930-2000
The Pool Family, including James Christopher and Elizabeth Pool and their three children, were Southern Baptist missionaries based in Nigeria, Liberia, and Texas between 1935 and the late 1970s. The collection also includes materials about foster children that they sponsored. Collection includes correspondence, printed materials, administrative records, photographs, and writings documenting the life and activities of the Pool family, particularly J.C. and Elizabeth Pool, and their lives as Southern Baptist missionaries to Nigeria and Liberia in the mid-20th century. The materials are especially relevant to the history of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary and the Pools' work with the Baptist community in Nigeria.
- Collection Number
- Pool Family papers
- 20 Linear Feet, 15000 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The collection is divided into 8 series, each listed below with detailed descriptions. The largest series in the collection is the Correspondence Series, which consists of letters sent to and by the Pool family and their relatives, friends, and colleagues. It ranges from 1928-1998 with some undated materials, and with a gap in coverage from 1963-1968. Notable events and correspondence are described in the Collection Contents, roughly divided by decade.
The Photographs and Artwork Series includes both professional photographs from the Division of Visual Education at the Foreign Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, along with personal portraits and snapshots taken by the Pools of both family and Nigerian scenes. The artwork present in this series consists of a set of watercolor prints with scenes of Liberia, created by Swedish artist Roland Svensson and published in 1969.
Family Writings includes J.C. Pool's autobiographies; J.C. Pool's sermon notes and writings, including his doctoral dissertation, addresses, historical essays, and many undated sermons; Elizabeth Pool's writings, including a draft of her book, autobiographical notes, and various poems, articles, and essays; E.C. Routh's writings; and other works collected by the Pools.
J.C. Pool's Teaching Materials include syllabi, student papers, and other materials, largely related to his career as a teacher at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary. A related series is the Missionary Materials Series, which also includes NBTS administrative and management documents, such as meeting minutes, founding documents, as well as materials from related organizations such as the Southern Baptist Convention's Foreign Missions Board.
The Family Papers Series includes the family's legal documents, financial accounts, a small amount of genealogy and family history materials, and a significant amount of memorial materials from the death of J.C. Pool in 1978. Family travel documents have been removed to the Travel Series, which also includes tickets, postcards, immigration materials, and other memorabilia from the many trips taken by the Pools.
Finally, the Printed Materials Series includes clippings, pamphlets and programs, magazines saved by the Pools, and reports about the Nigerian government and politics.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
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
The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Pool Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Correspondence series consists of letters sent to and by the Pool family and their relatives, friends, and colleagues. It ranges from 1928-1998 with some undated materials, and with a gap in coverage from 1963-1968. Notable events and correspondence are detailed below, roughly divided by decade.
Correspondence from 1928 through the 1930s includes a number of letters between J.C. Pool and W.A. Criswell, as well as many between J.C. and Etta H. Pool and between Elizabeth and E.C. and Alice Routh. In 1934 both J.C. and Elizabeth corresponded regularly with Charles Maddry and his secretary Jessie Ford regarding their applications to the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and their plans for travel to and service in Nigeria. The letters document their trip to Nigeria in September 1934, and their experience as missionaries, including such events as Elizabeth’s adoption of Gordon on October 27, 1934; J.C.’s breaking his engagement to Faye Winfree in early September, 1935; J.C. and Elizabeth’s courtship and engagement that same month, and their marriage on December 26, 1935; Frances’ birth on Jan. 17, 1937; the death of Lucille and another missionary, Frances Jones, from yellow fever in the summer of 1937; and the Pools’ first furlough in the United States from November 1937-October 1938. The seminary was moved to Oyo in 1937 upon the Pools’ departure, then moved back to Ogbomosho upon the Pool’s return. On June 27, 1938, E.C. Routh received a personal letter from J. Edgar Hoover regarding an article published in the Baptist Messenger, of which E.C. was the editor. Letters from the fall of 1939 and onward discuss WWII and the implications for Americans serving overseas, in both Nigeria and China.
Correspondence in the 1940s covers Carolyn’s birth on Jan. 24, 1940; the Pools’ furlough in the U.S. from 1941-1943 (the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the day the Pools arrived in America and the American entrance into WWII delayed their return by a year); J.C.’s return to Africa in 1943 while Elizabeth and the girls stayed in Oklahoma (the Pools wrote frequently to each other while separated); Elizabeth, Frances, and Carolyn’s return to Nigeria in 1944; the publication of The Hill Called Moon the same year; Jim’s birth on July 29, 1945; the Pools’ 1947-1948 furlough in the U.S.; and Elizabeth’s hospitalization and back surgery in Creek Hospital, Lagos, in 1949, as the African nurses’ and hospital workers’ strike took place. Letters from 1941 concern American missionaries in eastern and southern China in light of the withdrawal of U.S. Marines and letters from the late 1940s discuss the negotiations by which the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary would eventually become affiliated with the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS) for degree-granting purposes.
Correspondence from the 1950s covers a number of significant events for the Pool family. A great deal of correspondence from 1950-1951 concerns Copass Routh’s debts and his family’s efforts to make good on them. The Pools went on furlough in America from 1950-1951, at the end of which Frances stayed in America with relatives; after graduating high school in 1953, she enrolled at Baylor, having been granted a scholarship from the Women’s Missionary Union. Claribel Pool married Jonathan Ojeleye December 24, 1953, which caused some controversy due to Claribel and Jonathan’s desire to include Yoruba customs that J.C. and Elizabeth found inappropriate for a Christian ceremony; the two had a child, Funlayo Ojeleye, in Sept. 1954. Elizabeth published a biography of Lucille Reagan in 1954 and The Bead-Maker’s Son in 1957. The Pools again went on furlough in the U.S. from 1954-1955, at the end of which Carolyn stayed in America with relatives. Frances married Robert (Bob) H. Blinn in June 1955; they had Robert (Bobby) in March 1956. Carolyn moved in with Bob and Frances until her graduation from high school in 1958. During that period, Bob, who was in the Air Force, was deployed to Korea in 1957, and the couple had a second son, Keith, in March 1958. Alice Routh died Oct. 24, 1957; the collection includes a number of condolence letters around this time. Family friend and colleague Osad Imasogie married Yewande Akinwumi April 22, 1958 in Nigeria. When the Pools returned to the U.S. on furlough from 1958-1959, they held posts at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Carolyn completed her first year of college at the University of Louisville in order to be close to her parents while they served at SBTS, then transferred to Baylor when the Pools returned to Nigeria.
Correspondence from the 1960s includes letters discussing the establishment of an Foreign Missions Board-funded “M.K” (missionary kids) home in Kentucky with missionaries Neville and Emma Claxon, which opened in Sept. 1960; Jim, who had traveled alone to the U.S. in July, would move into the home when it opened. Claribel and Jonathan had another child, Molara, that same fall, and Katherine Blinn was born to Frances and Bob in June 1961. Gordon married Mary in Dec. 1964. E.C. Routh died in May 1966. Letters from this period also discuss Nigerian independence, the political situation in Africa generally, and Africanization. There is a gap between Aug. 15, 1963 and Nov. 28, 1968, and coverage is generally sparse from Dec. 1961-April 1970.
Correspondence from the 1970s covers a wide range of events. The Pools went on furlough in the U.S. from 1970-1971, leaving Nigeria for good; Carl Whirley was inaugurated as principal of the NBTS in J.C.’s stead. Jim married Mary in 1970. The Pools returned to Africa in 1971, this time to Mount Nimba Baptist Church in Yekepa, Liberia, where J.C. was the pastor and Elizabeth was the bookkeeper and kept records. Frances had an operation in 1971. Carolyn married Richard Bullington, Jr. Dec. 3, 1971. J.C. Pool was injured in a serious fall early in 1972, prompting hospitalization and a number of letters of sympathy before they finally made the decision to retire in Texas that summer. Jim and Mary had James (Jimmy) in June 1972, and Richard and Carolyn had Richard II in Sept. of the same year. In 1972, Elizabeth was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the San Marcos Baptist Academy. Bob and Jim were deployed to Thailand in the early 1970s by the Air Force; their service in the Vietnam War had a deleterious effect on their marriages and both Bob and Frances and Jim and Mary began divorce proceedings in 1973. Frances married John Haaren and Jim married a woman named Judy (they would divorce in 1976) and relocated to Hawaii. Bobby Blinn left the Air Force Academy to enter the ministry and married Mary Beth Turkington in the summer of 1977. Carolyn adopted ten-year-old Susan in 1977. In January of 1978, J.C. Pool died. That August, Gordon and his five sons were killed in a car crash in Africa. Porter Routh retired from the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979. That same year, Elizabeth traveled to Nigeria to witness the inauguration of longtime friend Osad Imasogie as the principal of NBTS. In addition to these family events, this period includes correspondence (personal letters and formal invitations) between the Pools and the Liberian president, William R. Tolbert, Jr., as well as a discussion of the Udogi policies in Nigeria and efforts to get SBTS to re-certify NBTS degrees after the Nigerian government declared they would no longer enable their recipients to teach.
Correspondence from the 1980s covers Elizabeth’s 1981 application to the Daughters of the American Revolution, notes from and correspondence regarding Ross Routh’s family genealogy book project in 1982, and Keith Blinn’s marriage to Laura. Several of Elizabeth’s relatives died during this period: Clinton Burnett in Oct. 1985, Copass Routh in Feb. 1987, Ross Routh in July 1987, and Porter Routh in Nov. 1987.
Correspondence from the 1990s covers Elizabeth’s selection as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Outstanding Alumna of the Year, Katherine’s marriage to Russ Allison, Gene and his family’s move to Germany, E.C. Routh’s induction into the Oklahoma Baptist Hall of Fame in Nov. 1994, and Carolyn’s participation in an “MK” (Missionary Kids) listserv in 1996, a number of printed emails from which are included in the collection and touch on a number of past and contemporary African issues, including the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Materials in the Photographs and Artwork series include both professional photographs from the Division of Visual Education at the Foreign Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, along with personal portraits and snapshots taken by the Pools of both family and Nigerian scenes. The family snapshots are loosely sorted into Pool Family and Nigerian subseries, but have not been arranged further. They contain a range of dates and subjects, including the NBTS, Mt. Nimba, scenes of Nigerian and Liberian culture and festivals, travel photographs, and more formal portraits of friends and family members. Many of these photographs have been captioned by Jim Pool. Box 14 includes a small photograph album of Pool family vacation photographs. Boxes 16 and 17 contain the FMB photographs, which include both Nigerian and Liberian churches, pastors, parishioners, and scenes of local life in Africa. Most include detailed captions. The artwork present in this series consists of a set of watercolor prints with scenes of Liberia, created by Swedish artist Roland Svensson and published in 1969. It has been housed in Oversize Folder 1.
The Family Writings series consists of non-correspondence writings and notes by the Pool family and their relatives. It ranges from 1930-1998 and is divided into five subseries: J.C. Pool Autobiographical Materials, J.C. Pool Sermon Notes and Writings, Elizabeth Pool Writings, E.C. Routh Writings, and Other Pool Family Writings, with this last reserved for writings by family members other than J.C. Pool, Elizabeth Pool, and E.C. Routh. In addition to these subseries, the collection contains a small amount of writings and poems collected but not authored by the Pools.
The J.C. Pool Sermon Notes and Writings subseries is comprised of J.C. Pool’s early notes and publications while a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, including his doctoral thesis on the Jesuits, “An Estimate of the Society of Jesus in the Reformation and the Post-Reformation Periods”; dated sermons, sermon notes, and writings, including his address at his father’s funeral, writings on Yoruba culture and religion, a history of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary co-written with Elizabeth Pool, various lectures given at commencements, graduations, and conferences, as well as one broadcast on Nigerian radio, and another essay on the history of the NBTS; a number of sermon notes and Bible Study lesson plans during the Pools’ tenure at Mount Nimba Baptist Church in Yekepa, Liberia from May 1971-July 1972; two collections of typed sermons, the latter of which focuses especially on Christianity in Africa; and a significant amount of undated material, largely handwritten sermon notes.
The J.C. Pool Autobiographies subseries has two types of material. The first consists of manuscript drafts of J.C. Pool’s autobiography, both typed and handwritten, covering the years 1905-1951. The second consists of diaries and handwritten summaries from 1935-1972 (non-inclusive), with diaries from 1942 and 1943.
The Elizabeth Pool Writings subseries consists of notes and writings by Elizabeth Pool, including a brief autobiographical sketch, notes for her 1951 biography of Lucille Reagan for the Foreign Mission Board, a copy of an article she contributed to a local book on the history of the Grapevine region circa 1982, and various poems and essays, as well as a draft of her book A Hill Called Moon circa 1943.
The E.C. Routh Writings subseries consists of notes and writings by Elizabeth Pool’s father, E.C. Routh, who was the editor of and a contributing writer to the Baptist Messenger. The collection includes essay drafts, sermon notes, and biographical sketches of both personal friends and prominent Baptists.
The Other Writings subseries includes work by Alice Routh (E.C. Routh’s wife and Elizabeth Pool’s mother), J.C. and Elizabeth’s son Jim and daughter Carolyn, and other Pool relations. Stories, poems, biographies, and essays are all present.
The J.C. Pool Teaching Materials series consists of materials used by J.C. Pool throughout his career as an educator, as well as student papers written for him at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary. Syllabi, lesson plans, notes, and exam materials cover a range of classes, with a large portion of the material devoted to courses on Christian missions. The NBTS student papers focus on the interaction of Christian theology and Yoruba cultural and religious practices.
The Travel Records and Memorabilia series contains records of the Pool family’s various trips from 1934 to 1991, with some undated material. The series includes an itinerary summarizing nearly all of the journeys documented in the rest of the series. It also includes material such as luggage tags, programs from events held during various cruises, airplane tickets and records, printed travel books, and postcards and other tourist materials. Notable journeys that receive a significant amount of coverage include Elizabeth Pool’s 1979 journey to Nigeria for longtime friend Osad Imasogie’s inauguration as Principal of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomosho.
The Missionary Materials series largely consists of records from the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary and related organizations including the Nigerian Baptist Mission, the American Baptist Mission, the Christian Council of Nigeria, the Baptist Mission of Nigeria, and the Home and Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. It ranges from 1938-1980 with some undated material. In addition to general policies and proceedings, the material touches on polygamy and marriage practices in the 1930s-1950s, Nigerianization, and questions concerning refugees and relief efforts during and after the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970).
This series contains three sorts of materials: agendas and meeting minutes, reports, and founding documents. Agendas and meeting minutes contains materials from the organizations listed above and is arranged chronologically, not by organization; issues covered in this material include budgets, personnel, education and schools (including enrollment and accreditation issues), medical facilities, agriculture, transportation, media (use of AV equipment, literature, publishing, and bookstores), and scholarships. Reports mostly contains materials by or about the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, including yearly histories and information about budgets, enrollments, and calendars. Founding documents consist of resolutions, statements of purpose, constitutions, personnel policies, manuals, and programs for the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, the Western Division of the Baptist Mission of Nigeria, the Ogbomosho Baptist Medical Center, and the Foreign Mission Board. Other materials include catalogs, directories, issues of The Theologue (a student publication), and 1970 press materials from the Foreign Mission Board.
The Family Papers Series contains family history and genealogy notes; awards, diplomas, and other honors acquired by the Pools throughout their lives; family legal and financial documents, such as receipts, licenses, debt records, and property inventories; and other miscellaneous items including a family guest book, cancelled stamps from throughout the world, and other items saved by the Pools. The bulk of this series consists of memorial materials from J.C. Pool's death and funeral.
The Printed Materials series is comprised of published materials collected by the Pool family and ranges from the 1930s to the 1990s with some undated material. It is divided into five subseries: Clippings, Programs and Publications, Reports, Magazines, and Books. Clippings consists of clipped materials from magazines and newspapers, as well as a few complete editions. It mostly contains articles and notices about the Pools from local papers (weddings, visits, obituaries, etc.); it also contains some examples of published writing by the Pools and their relatives, particularly columns by Elizabeth Pool’s father, E.C. Routh. Programs and Publications contains a large number of church bulletins and programs, many from the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary and the First Baptist Church Oke’lerin (both in Ogbomosho, Nigeria), and others from various services attended by the Pools. It also includes other published materials, such as religious and travel pamphlets, as well as small New Testaments and other books owned by the Pools and their relatives. Magazines includes a variety of publications collected by the Pools, most of which are missionary publications (Home and Foreign Fields, World Comrades, Tell, SIMNOW), general interest Nigerian publications (Ibadan, Nigeria Magazine), or religious and educational publications from the United States (Review and Expositor, The OBU Report, Baptist Messenger, Founders Campaign Quarterly). There are generally only one or two issues of each magazine, with one exception: a significant portion of this subseries consists of issues of The Nigerian Baptist from 1954-1988 (non-inclusive). Reports consists almost entirely of various published reports on Nigerian politics and government. The Books subseries contains printed publications, written in both the English and Yoruba languages. Many of these books include notes or inscriptions by the Pools.
The Pool Family Papers consist of documents collected by Baptist missionaries J.C. (James Christopher, also Christie) and Elizabeth Pool and their relatives. J.C. was born Jan. 26, 1905 and earned an undergraduate degree from Baylor University in 1929 (after having been ordained in 1928) and a graduate degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Elizabeth was born July 17, 1909, earned an undergraduate degree at the Baylor College for Women (subsequently Mary Hardin-Baylor College and the University of Mary Hardin Baylor) in 1930, and taught at the San Marcos Baptist Academy from 1930-1932. After both traveling to Nigeria as missionaries in 1934, they were engaged and married in 1935. They had three children--Frances, born 1937, Carolyn, born 1940, and James (Jim), born 1945--and adopted two Nigerian children, Gordon Buraimo Pool, born 1934, and Claribel Olubunmi Alanke Pool, born 1931.
The Pools became key figures in the Baptist missionary community of Nigeria, primarily through their work at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (where J.C. was principal) but also at the Ogbomosho Day School and the Baptist Mission Hospital, among other institutions. While in Nigeria Elizabeth published several books, including The Hill Called Moon (1944), Lucille Reagan of Africa (1954), and The Bead-Maker’s Son (1957). They were stationed in Liberia from 1971-1972 before retiring to San Angelo, Texas due to J.C.’s health problems. J.C. died Jan. 21, 1978, and Elizabeth died Nov. 13, 2000.
Notable family members include Elizabeth’s brother Ross Routh, a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army and Elizabeth’s father, Eugene Coke Routh, who served as the editor of the Baptist Messenger from 1928-1943 and the editor of the Commission(published by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) from 1943-1948 and published a number of books on religious subjects.
In addition to these, relatives who are frequently mentioned in the Pool Family Papers include J.C.'s and Elizabeth's children and grandchildren: daughter, Frances Elizabeth Pool Haaren (also known as Frances Blinn, married Robert (Bob) H. Blinn, married John Haaren) and her children, Robert (Bobby), married Mary Beth; Keith, married Laura; Katherine, married Russ Allison; and Eugene (Gene), married Ruth. Another daughter of J.C. and Elizabeth was Carolyn Pool (also known as Carolyn Pool Bullington, married Richard Lunson Bullington, Jr.); her children were Richard, Jr., Margaret, Susan, Brenda, and Lillie. The Pools' youngest child, James (Jim) Christopher Pool, Jr., married Mary and had a son, James (Jimmy). The Pools also corresponded frequently with their two adopted children, Gordon Buraimo (who married Mary and had several children) and Claribel Olubunmi Alanke (who married Jonathan Ojeleye and had two children, Funlayo and Molara). Other relatives frequently mentioned in the Papers include J.C. Pool's mother, Mrs. U.H. (Etta) Pool; his siblings and in-laws, Albert and Josephine Pool; his aunt, Fannie Pool Lancaster; J.C. Pool's cousin, Wade Hill Pool; Elizabeth Pool's parents, E.C. and Alice Routh; her siblings and in-laws, including W.W. (Walter Wendell) and Leila K. Arnett, Clinton and Lucile Burnett, Copass and Loretta Routh, Porter and Ruth Routh, and Ross and Fay Routh; and her aunts and uncle, Katie Wrol House and B.B. and Leila Routh McKinney.
Friends and colleagues frequently mentioned in the Papers include Ruby Cooper, W.A. Criswell, Jessie Ford, Cornell Goerner, Osadolor (Osad) and Yewande Imasogie, Burton and Margaret (Margie) Lindan, Charles Maddry, Kathleen Manley (Man), Charles Martin, Hugh and Vera Peterson, Lucille Reagan, Josephine (Jo) Scaggs, William R. Tolbert, Jr., and Carl and Enid Whirley.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso
- Pool family
- Pool, Carolyn
- Pool family
- Pool, Frances Elizabeth
- Pool, Elizabeth Routh
- Pool, James (Jim)
- Pool, J.C. (James Christopher)
- Routh, Ross
- Routh, E.C. (Eugene Coke)
- Southern Baptist Convention
- Southern Baptist Convention. Foreign Mission Board
- Baptists -- Missions -- Nigeria
- Baptists -- Missions -- Liberia
- Children of missionaries -- Africa
- Missions -- Nigeria -- History
- Missions -- Africa
- Married people in missionary work -- Africa
- Yoruba (African people) -- Nigeria -- History
The Pool Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2011.
Processed by Kaley Deal, Rebecca Evans, Meghan Lyon, June 2012
Encoded by Meghan Lyon, June 2012
Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2011-1028