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Wheaton College and Oswald Chambers

I’ll be at Wheaton College the day this blog goes live, October 20, 2017.

English: Billy Graham Center

I’m attending an event Wheaton’s Buswell Library is hosting on October 20 called My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers.

Why is Oswald Chambers, a British citizen born in Scotland, being honored at Wheaton College outside of the Chicago–which is in the United States?

Wheaton is the site of the Oswald Chambers Papers, an archive housed in the Special Collections section of the Buswell Library.

Letters, papers, photos and a host of other ephemera that once belonged to Oswald, Biddy or Kathleen reside there.

Chambers expert David McCasland cached his research papers there, and others added to the collection, most notably Oswald’s student Eva Spink Pulford.

It’s the place to go if you want to study or research Oswald Chambers.

What is a special collections library?

Wheaton College, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

The WWI prayer list from Zeitoun

It’s a moderate sized room with shelves and filling cabinets. I’ve spent seven days there examining the papers, taking photos and notes.

(Materials are housed elsewhere and brought to you to examine).

I’m very grateful for the Special Collections Library and its able archivists.

I could not have written Mrs. Oswald Chambers without the papers found in and the help provided by the Special Collections Library.

Let me count the ways

The material is accessible

When I began my research, I feared I would need to spend time in England hunting down people and material.

But McCasland left his research at Wheaton and the special library had a large amount of material I needed.

I didn’t find everything I used at Wheaton (see all my blog posts about Ancestry.com and research, for example), but the primary resource material was there.

Of most importance was the transcript of McCasland’s interview with Kathleen Chambers in 1991.

It’s not just papers

During my first visit, I explored Oswald and Biddy’s Bibles.

Wheaton College, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

OC liked to cut up Bibles

I examined all the photos we thought existed.

I even got to run my fingers over the keys of Biddy’s typewriter.

The archivists are helpful

I didn’t know any of that material existed before I arrived.

Archivist Keith Call and his colleagues listened to my description of my projects.

They brought out things I didn’t know to ask for–like the typewriter and Bibles.

They helped me interpret some of the material I looked at–what it meant.

I even got a shocking surprise when Keith handed me a letter I wrote Madeleine L’Engle 40 years ago.

The library is conducive for work

Three rows of tables in a silent room made for an excellent study spot.

I probably made the most noise–especially when I found something exciting.

The three other scholars focused on their own work–they were from Japan, Germany and Boston.

But after two days my scanner died and I had to buy and start up another one.

The nice German man came over to help me when I tried hard not to cry.

Voila, however, it worked.

(A miracle this technophobe was able to install and load the software).

Needed?

In the age of the Internet–where I did a lot of my research–do we need special libraries like this one?

Wheaton College, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Biddy’s worn out Bible

History is important. Understanding in their own words why someone did something, is important.

Holding Bibles and papers my subjects wrote–thrilled me, yes.

But I also needed those primary resources to make my manuscript come alive with the Chambers’ words.

Examining Biddy’s purse and imagining her carrying it, helped make her more real to me.

I loved working at Wheaton’s special collections library–and I’ll be visiting them once more while I’m in Wheaton.

I owe them a book.

 

My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers

Wheaton College, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

We’re honoring the 100th anniversary of Oswald Chambers’ death on November 15, 1917.

The afternoon will feature discussions, music, memories and a four-member panel.

I’m one of the panel members.Wheaton College, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I’ll report on what happened with photos next Friday, sharing about the things I learned, information that surprised me, and perhaps getting a chance to admire some of the memorabilia housed at the library.

I’ve been looking forward to this event for a long time.

If you can’t come to Wheaton, you might enjoy this hour long interview with biographer Eric Metaxas.

Note: The rafflecopter drawing for one of five free copies of my biography, Mrs. Oswald Chambers or a grand prize of My Utmost for His Highest-related material, continues until Monday, October 23.

Sign up here, if you’re interested.

I’ll announce the winners on my Tuesday, October 24 blog post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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