Resources related to the historic role of the Presbyterian Church in Georgia now freely available online

ATHENS, Ga. — Three new collections featuring historical resources related to the Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian educators, and their role in Georgia history are now available through the Digital Library of Georgia. 

Housed at Columbia Theological Seminary, the resources are freely available online thanks, in part, to the DLG’s competitive digitization grant program, a funding opportunity intended to broaden DLG partner participation in statewide historic digitization projects.

The three digital collections are:

  • Joseph R. Wilson papers, from the late 1800s, including the sermons of Presbyterian minister and educator Joseph Ruggles Wilson dating 1858 to 1893. View at dlg.usg.edu/collection/gcl_wilson.

Wilson served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Ga., and at First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, N.C. He also taught at Columbia Theological Seminary and Southwestern Presbyterian University and was the father of President Woodrow Wilson.

  • John Newton Waddel papers, 1821‐1881, including manuscripts and print material belonging to John Newton Waddel (1812-1895) and Moses Waddel (1770-1840). The father and son were Presbyterian ministers and educators in Georgia and Mississippi. View at dlg.usg.edu/collection/gcl_waddel.

Moses Waddel served as the fifth president of the University of Georgia. John Newton Waddel served as president of Presbyterian Synodical College in LaGrange, Tenn., and as chancellor of the University of Mississippi. 

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Presbytery of Hopewell minutes, 1797‐1866, the official minutes of the Presbytery of Hopewell, the first Presbytery in the state of Georgia. View at dlg.usg.edu/collection/gcl_hopewell.

The Hopewell minutes provide descriptions of early missionary efforts among Native Americans, deliberations about slavery, and other collective decisions that offer perspectives from the state of Georgia between the Revolutionary War through the Civil War. Special thanks to the Northeast Georgia Presbytery for permitting the digitization of these records.

Erskine Clarke, professor emeritus of U.S. religious history at Columbia Theological Seminary, describes the research significance of these three collections: 

“The Wilson sermons will have interest for anyone wishing to probe the religious life of Woodrow Wilson. In addition, they will provide insight into the theological assumptions and rhetorical and homiletical strategies of an influential nineteenth-century Georgia pastor. 

“Presbytery minutes are rich resources for cultural and religious history, and the years of the Hopewell minutes (1797-1866) will be of great interest to historians working in that period of Georgia history. 

“The links with the University of Georgia presidents are astonishing. The Waddel papers are even more exciting…To have these important documents available online will be a great gift to those who in the future explore the history of Georgia.”

About Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary exists to educate and nurture faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the sake of the church and the world. It is an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a community of theological inquiry, leadership development, and formation for ministry in the service of the church of Jesus Christ. Visit ctsnet.edu.

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Historic Architectural Sketches of Augusta First Presbyterian Church now available digitally

Designs for Augusta Church, State of Georgia by Robert Mills of South Carolina, Architect, Philadelphia, 22 July 1809 http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/do:fpcag_rmfpc_rmfpc

Architectural record book created by nationally renowned architect Robert Mills in 1807 is believed to be among the oldest surviving plans for any building in Georgia.

Augusta, GA– The Georgia Heritage Room of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System is pleased to announce the availability of Designs for Augusta Church, State of Georgia by Robert Mills of South Carolina, Architect, Philadelphia, 22 July 1807 at https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/fpcag_rmfpc.

The collection consists of an architectural record book belonging to First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia, and created by nationally renowned architect Robert Mills in July 1807. Mills executed the three-part record at the behest of the building committee, and in it details plans for the design of the future church. Support for this project provided by the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System and Georgia HomePLACE, a unit of the Georgia Public Library Service.

Tina Monaco of the Georgia Heritage Room notes: “Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System is honored to have assisted First Presbyterian Church of Augusta with the digital preservation of Robert Mills’ manuscript of architectural designs, particularly as it contributes to the early history of the Church as well as Augusta. More broadly, the plans are an excellent example of Mills’ early portfolio, complementing an already vast body of work that defined him as a key architect of the Early Republic.”

About Robert Mills

Robert Mills is known, among his many projects, for the design of the Washington Monument. A prolific architect and engineer, Mills began his studies in Charleston, but as a young man moved to Philadelphia, and apprenticed under James Hoban, designer of the White House, a project to which Mills contributed. He also studied under famed architect and engineer of the period, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, and fell under the tutelage of Thomas Jefferson who designed and built Monticello, his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Throughout his life, Robert Mills designed numerous buildings throughout the Mid-Atlantic, including official appointments by President Andrew Jackson in 1836 to design office complexes for the U.S. Treasury and the Patent Office. Mills was also an accomplished author, having published Mills’ Atlas of South Carolina in 1825.

Design for First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia (1807) was accomplished early in his career, during a time when he received commissions to build other churches, notably the Circular Congregational Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Classical Revival architecture predominated during the mid-eighteenth century onward, heavily influencing Mills and his contemporaries. This style is reflected in his plans for First Presbyterian Church. Though the building has undergone significant remodels over the years, it retains its original classical form.

 About Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System

The Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System (ARCPLS) serves more than 250,000 county residents. As a member of Public Information Network for Electronic Services (PINES), a program of the Georgia Public Library Service, ARCPLS provides access to over 10 million books. ARCPLS facilitates programs and classes to educate and entertain all ages at no cost. In addition to being a vital meeting place where the community can gather, explore new worlds, and share ideas and values, ARCPLS is a community hub and a critical anchor for our residents and neighbors. With a committed and diverse staff, ARCPLS continues to bring innovative and adaptive information and technology to its patrons. Visit ARCPLS at https://arcpls.org/.

About Georgia HomePLACE

Georgia HomePLACE encourages public libraries and related institutions to participate in the Digital Library of Georgia. HomePLACE offers a highly collaborative model for digitizing primary source collections related to local history and genealogy. HomePLACE is supported with Federal LSTA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Learn more at http://www.georgialibraries.org/homeplace.

About the First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia

First Presbyterian Church was established in 1804. These 1807 drawings by Robert Mills were used to guide the construction of the sanctuary, which was completed in 1812. It has been occupied continuously since that time. During the Civil War, the sanctuary was converted to a hospital and used for wounded soldiers. The church celebrated her bicentennial in 2012. Located in historic downtown Augusta, the church seeks to restore people and rebuild places through the gospel of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

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