Guide to the Elbert Russell Papers, 1893 - 1968


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.

Collection Details

Record Group
Elbert Russell papers
1893 - 1968
Russell, Elbert, 1871-1951
1.3 Linear Feet, 1,000 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Collection Overview

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.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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How to Cite

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

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1924-February, 1941
Box 1
Folder 1
Correspondence, March 1941-May 1941
Box 1
Folder 2
Correspondence, June 1941-1965
Box 1
Folder 3
Articles about politics, character, and the Bible, 1902-1934
Box 1
Folder 4
Articles about trust, optimism, life problems, general issues, 1912-1951
Box 1
Folder 5
The Inner Light in the History and Modern Problems of the Society of Friends, ca. 1945
Box 1
Folder 6
The Basis of Authority in Religion, undated
Box 1
Folder 7
The Richmond Declaration of Faith, ca. 1922, 1961

Includes correspondence.

Box 1
Folder 8
The Relation of Christianity to War and Peace, ca. 1929
Box 1
Folder 9
Criticism, correspondence, The Relation of Christianity to War and Peace, ca. 1929
Box 1
Folder 10
Central American goodwill mission, 1927
Box 1
Folder 11
Nonviolence as a Means of Social and Religious Progress, Freedom and Moral Responsibility in Modern Life, and Irish Stories, undated
Box 1
Folder 12
Learning and Piety, The Christian Church, Hero Worship, and meeting notes.
Box 1
Folder 13
King of Kings, The Little Girl God Forgot, Suspected Bigamy, Quaint Old Kernel of Kendal Green Fame, and a review of Gone with the Wind.
Box 1
Folder 14
Chapel Talks and More Chapel Talks

Includes some reprints.

Box 1
Folder 15
The Importance of Religious Education, Courses in Religion for Negro Ministers, Why We Do Not Want County Liquor Stores, and Prohibition in America, undated
Box 1
Folder 16
Manuscript material for play about Antioch in Syria, A.D. 48, undated
Box 1
Folder 17
Sermons and prayers, 1937, undated
Box 1
Folder 18
The Seed Picker, 1926-1927
Box 1
Folder 19
The Book of Revelation, [193-?]
Box 1
Folder 20
Poems, ca. 1893-1919
Box 1
Folder 21
Tales of the Parson, part 1, ca. 1927-1928
Box 1
Folder 22
Tales of the Parson, part 2, ca. 1927-1928
Box 1
Folder 23
Articles on peace and nonviolence, undated
Box 1
Folder 24
Articles on Christianity, 1909-1951

Includes some reprints.

Box 1
Folder 25-26
Articles on Quakerism, 1897-1921
Box 1
Folder 27
Articles on Quakerism and Present Tendencies, 1922-1951
Box 1
Folder 28-29
A Commentary on the Book of Revelation, undated
Box 1
Folder 30
Clippings and reprints, ca. 1921-1951
Box 1
Folder 31
Discussion of Russell's last lectures in North Carolina, 1968
Box 1
Folder 32

Historical Note

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.

Related Material

  • Divinity School records. (University Archives, Duke University.)
  • Elbert Russell papers, 1895-1966. (Arthur and Kathleen Postle Archives and Friends Collection, Earlham College. )

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


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