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Guide to the Hilrie Shelton Smith papers, 1941-1983

Abstract

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.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
University Archives, Duke University
Creator
Smith, H. Shelton (Hilrie Shelton), 1893-1987.
Title
Hilrie Shelton Smith papers 1941-1983
Language of Material
English
Extent
2.0 Linear Feet, 1,500 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

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 The lectures and unpublished writings are largely or elucidations of many of the themes he has touched on in published works, including the Southern mind, race and the Southern church, the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.

Administrative Information

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In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.

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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.

Contents of the Collection

Personal. Books Donated to Divinity School Library, 1963-1981
Box 1
Personal. Vitae; Select Bibliography of Writings; Clippings; Honors, 1959-1982
Box 1
Personal. Honors Luncheon, N.C. Council of Churches, 2 May 1978
Box 1
Memorials, Obituaries, etc.
Box 1
Personal. Retirement. Honors Received, 1963
Box 1
Personal. Retirement. Correspondence: "Letters to H. Shelton Smith," 1962-1963
Box 1
Personal. Retirement. Dinner on 20 May 1963
Box 1
Personal. Robinson, A.P.: "Our Theologians: H. Shelton Smith." Advance, Sept. 1944, pp.12-14.
Box 1
Personal. Thistlethwaite, Susan Brooks: H. Shelton Smith: Critic of the Theological Perspective of Progressive Religious Education, 1934-1950. Ph.D., D.U., 1980 (Abstract)
Box 1
Correspondence, 1966-1982 [original of Jimmy Carter letter has been removed and placed into Signature Collection]
Box 1
General File. Dissertations and Theses Supervised by H.S.S., 1963
Box 1
General File. Kearns Foundation for Graduate Study in Religion, Gurney Harriss, 1951-1977
Box 1
General File. Kearns Professorship, Amos Ragan, 1961-1972
Box 1
General File. N.C. Council of Churched, 1953, 1977-1981
Box 1
Correspondence. Divinity School: Change of Name (1941). 1941, 1977-1978
Box 1
Publications: Correspondence and Reviews: American Christianity, vols. I and II (Scribner, 1960, 1963), 1960-1963
Box 1
Publications: Correspondence and Reviews: Changing Conceptions of Original Sin (Scribner, 1955), 1955-1956
Box 1
Publications: Correspondence and Reviews: Faith and Nurture (Scribner, 1941), 1941-1942
Box 1
Publications: Correspondence and Reviews: Horace Bushnell (Oxford, 1965), 1965-1976
Box 1
Publications: Correspondence and Reviews: In His Image, But… (D.U. Press, 1972), 1972-1975
Box 1
Writings: "The Image of a Pilgrim." Published in program of Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Durham, NC: "Service of Worship Celebrating the Claiming of the Name." 26 Oct. 1975 Writings. Unpublished "Four Influential Theologians: Hopkins, Woods, Taylor, Hodge." undated
Box 1
Writings. Unpublished. "The Return to Christology." undated
Box 1
Writings. Unpublished. "The Slave South: An Interpretation." undated
Box 1
Writings. Unpublished. "Some Chapters on Modern American Christology." undated
Box 1
Lecture Series. "As American Protestants Have Seen Jesus." Hebrew Union College - Miriam Goldberg Lectures. 14-16 Feb. 1944
Box 1
Lecture Series. "Christian Faith and Its Communication." Presbyterian School of Christian Education. Richmond, VA 2-12 August 1954
Box 1
Lecture Series. "The Doctrine of Original Sin: Its Decline and Revival in American Theology." The Stone Lectures. Princeton Theological Seminary. 9-12 April 1951
Box 1
Lecture Series. "Faith and Nurture in Contemporary Protestant Thought." Pacific School of Religion 17-19 Feb. 1942 (Repeated 1942 and 1947 - see note inside)
Box 1
Lecture Series. "Patterns of the Southern Mind." Robert F. Jones Lectures. Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 31 Jan.-3 Feb. 1961
Box 1
Lecture Series. "The Role of the Southern Churchman in the Struggle for Freedom and Equality." James A. Gray Lectures. Christian Convocation - Pastors' School, D. U. 1-3 Nov. 1965
Box 1
Lectures. Courses. American Christianity 191: "Patterns of the Southern Mind." Fall, 1960
Box 1
Lectures. Courses. American Religious Thought 199: "The American Social Gospel." Summer 1957
Box 1
Correspondence - Will Gravely [CLOSED]
Box 1
Lectures. Courses. American Religious Thought 395: "Religious Thought in Colonial America." Spring 1961
Box 2
Lectures. Courses. American Religious Thought 396: "Liberal Traditions in American Theology." Spring 1961
Box 2
Lectures. Courses. American Religious Thought 397: "Current American Theology." Fall, 1956.
Box 2
Lectures. Scholarly Papers. "The American Post-Liberal Protestant Mind." Paper given at D.U. and Union [Theological Seminary?]. 1962?
Box 2
Lectures. Scholarly Papers. "Black Religion in the Colonial South." Paper given before Eastern Association of United Church of Christ. Pilgrim United Church, Durham, NC 15 Sept. 1975
Box 2
Lectures. Scholarly Papers. "Christology and the Kingdom of God." Paper read to the American Theological Society. 1947
Box 2
Lectures. Scholarly Papers. "The New Theology and the Idea of Progress." Paper read for American Society of Church History, Washington, DC, 1955
Box 2
Lectures. Scholarly Papers. "Southern Churchmen and the Doctrine of White Supremacy." Paper read at annual meeting, American Society of Church History. Chicago, Ill. 27 Dec. 1962
Box 2
Addresses. "Christian Realism and the Color Bar." Chapel Hill, NC 7 Dec. 1949
Box 2
Addresses. "Darwinism and American Theology." Presidential Address for the American Theological Society 3 April 1959
Box 2
Addresses. "From Oberlin to Nashville: A Fateful Pilgrimage." Fairchild Chapel, Graduate School of Theology, Oberlin College, Ohio. 18 May 1966
Box 2
Addresses. "The Library in Theological Education." Dedication, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library Building. Wake Forest, NC 8 April 1958
Box 2
Addresses. "The Politics of Radical Inequality in N.C." NC Churchmen's Conference on Civil Rights. Raleigh, NC 21 Sept. 1965
Box 2
Addresses: "A Sketch of Some Religious Beginnings in Colonial NC" Davie Popular Chapter: Daughters of the American Revolution. Chapel Hill, NC 12 Oct. 1955
Box 2
Addresses. "The South at Mid-century." First Presbyterian Church Men's Club. Durham, NC Jan. 1949
Box 2
Addresses. "Valley of Shame." St. Joseph's AMEZ Church, Durham, NC 12 Feb. 1978
Box 2
Sermons. "The Burden of Vietnam." Ministers' Conference, Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ. Blowing Rock, NC 21 May 1975
Box 2
Sermons. "The Ministry of Reconciliation" D.U. Divinity School Baccalaureate Sermon 2 June 1963
Box 2
Sermons. "Moral Crisis in a Troubled South." D.U. Chapel 29 April 1956 (Also contains reprint in Advance Magazine, 13 June 1956.)
Box 2
Sermons. "Protestantism in a Dynamic South." Presbyterian Church, Chapel Hill, NC 13 Jan. 1963
Box 2
Sermons. "This South Under God." D.U. Chapel 25 Oct. 1959
Box 2
Notes. 1953. "Christianity and Politics in the Southern States"
Box 2
Addition of September 1983 and December 1986 September 1983 - 7 items. Includes correspondence; text of sermon, "The Image of a Pilgrim" (given in 1975 at Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Durham, NC); text of remarks by James Cleland made at conclusion of HSS's Gray Lectures at Duke in 1965; certificate of congratulations to HSS by faculty and staff of the Divinity School on the occasion of his 90th birthday, 8 May 1983.
Box 2
December 1986 - 5 items. Letters from Mary A. Pannill; Program of Dedication of Pannill House for the Honors Program at Randolph-Macon College; remarks by Ladell Payne, Pres.
Box 2
Addition, Jan. 28, 1987 5 items including Order of Service and Sermon by Robert E. Cushman at the Memorial Service for H. Shelton Smith, January 11, 1987
Box 2
The Christian Century, February 7-14, 1990 -- "In Praise of Teachers" includes a tribute to Professor Smith
Box 2
Paper written by Albea Godbold and present to Smith, 1939
Box 2

Historical Note

Hilrie Shelton Smith was born near Greensboro, NC, on 8 May 1893. After graduation from Elon College as class valedictorian in 1917 with the B.A. degree, he received the Ph.D. from Yale University in 1923. He was ordained to the ministry in the United Church of Christ in 1915, and served in 1918-1919 as first lieutenant and chaplain with the American Expeditionary Force in France. His career as an educator began with the International Council of Religious Education in Chicago, where he served as the Director of Leadership Education (1923-1928).In 1928-1929 he was Associate Professor of Education at Teachers College of Columbia University, and then from 1929 to 1931 he was Associate Professor of Religious Education at the Yale Divinity School. He came to Duke University in 1931, where he was to stay until his retirement in 1963.

Smith's career has centered upon four major themes or tasks: the development of a graduate study program in religion at Duke; the cause of Christian ecumenism, which he upheld through his role as the founder (1935) and first president of the N.C. Council of Churches; the establishment of American Christianity as an autonomous academic field, where his own contributions were to be both theological and historical; and advocacy of civil rights for black Americans, in which his role as publicist and speaker made him an early critic of institutional and legal racism in the South, especially in the Southern church.

He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Gurney Harriss Kearns Foundation for Graduate Study in Religion, and the Amos Ragan Kearns Professorship in Religion. H. Shelton Smith has received numerous honors. The James B. Duke Professorship in 1953 was one of the original groups of J.B. Duke Professorships to be awarded. A Festschrift volume was published by Duke University Press in 1963: A Miscellany of American Christianity, edited by Stuart Henry. His other honors include the presidencies of the American Society of Church History (1957) and the American Theological Society (1958-1959), election to Phi Beta Kappa (1958), and election as "Alumnus of the Year" by Elon College in 1960. In 1978, the N.C. Council of Churched awarded him its "Citation of Merit" for his devotion to the cause of ecumenism.

Subject Headings

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Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Hilrie Shelton Smith Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Hilrie Shelton Smith papers were received by the University Archives as a gift in 1983, 1994.

Processing Information

Processed by Archives Staff, November 2006

Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, January 2007

Accessions 83-16, A94-43 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and our local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.