Friday, April 23, 2010

Research Needs

Research needs:

We need access to the major Pittsburgh newspapers from 1877-79, 1881-3. We especially need to see the Pittsburg Gazette for 1881-2. We need access to microfilms or a volunteer to do careful but guided research.

There was a disturbance in Newark, New Jersey, when Food for Thinking Christians was circulated there. The two newspaper articles we have were published outside of Newark and do not give detail. We need help pinning down the details.

The Watch Tower Tract Society sold donated lands in Florida in the 1880’s on a first come first choice basis. We need a volunteer in Florida willing to trace details of the sales and property transfers. We are especially interested in the name or names of the person who donated the land.

We know the location of two issues of Zion’s Day Star. Photo copy costs approach 45.00 per issue. We simply cannot afford that. If someone wants to pursue this, I will provide them with the locations in exchange for photocopies.

Barbour’s booklet on spiritism, published in the 1880s is on our list. We cannot locate a copy. Anyone?

Arthur Prince Adam’s Bible Theology and other books, issues of The Spirit of the Word other than the first year of issue which we have are on our list.

The heresy trail of A. P. Adams produced a lengthy record. It’s about 800 pages, I’m told. The library that holds this material has declined to photo copy it, and we can’t afford to pay for 800 pages anyway. Anyone?

If you read through the blog you will find other help requests. Almost all of those things are still needed.

We need a photo copy of the title page of von Zech’s translation of Plan of the Ages. Actually, we need a really clear digital image.

Extensive original material related to the early days (1880-1890) work in Liberia is in the Library of Congress and in an Episcopal archive. Anyone?

As you can see, to do the kind of research that would produce a reliable, detailed and well-documented history takes resources we simply do not have. I’m old, sick and poor. Rachael has a family.

A church in West Virginia expelled six of its members in 1886 for Millennial Dawnism. We need help documenting this.

This is just a very small sample of the things we need.

Most of what has been published about Russell and the early days of Zion’s Watch Tower is seriously flawed. Our research to date has led us to believe that the real story has never been told, at least in any sort of accurate and satisfying way. Neither Russell’s friends nor his enemies have it right. It’s time to get the story out. I am aware that at least three others are working on the era. They have anti-watch tower agendas, and from what little of that research I’ve seen, it is obvious that their strong feelings are coloring their approach. I’d like to think that I ‘call a spade a spade.’ If it happened, I will tell you to the best of my ability exactly what happened, who did what, how they did it, and why.

But, I don’t have an agenda. I don’t hate Russell. I don’t worship Russell. Russell had qualities which one might find admirable and he also had qualities that might make you cringe. Do you know any human who differs from this model? The fault with Witness produced material is that it focuses only on Russell. This is a huge mistake. If one presumes that those associated with Zion’s Watch Tower represented “the truth” as it could be known, then one must say that the entire group was the body of Christ. The body of Christ is not epitomized in Russell. He was one member of it, assuming you see him as a true Christian.

If you hate Russell and all he stood for, you still must understand that he did not function in a vacuum. He has supporters and opponents. The voice of neither group should be stilled. A polemicist will present a one-sided story. A historian will let all voices speak, no matter what he feels about the content of their message.

Rachael and I write history. We try to avoid the nonsense, contrived quotations, unfounded assertions and invented events found in most publications about Russell and the Watch Tower. Putting everything under the microscope of close examination of the original sources is time consuming and expensive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In his testimony about separation (page 47 of the transcript) Russell sas about the Florida property: "It (the society) has sod ocasional pieces". And answering a question about what it realized, answered "I do not suppose more than $ 600, something like that, may be a thousand dollars".
Ton, Holland