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REL 344: Missionary Impulse

Fall 2011
Doing Original Archival Research

As always, give yourself enough time to do your research. When working with primary sources from archival repositories, time is limited and thus valuable. Hours are short, sources are perplexing, and the process is different than your previous research in libraries and online. Nevertheless, have fun because archival research is a fantastic experience!

Using Secondary Sources Effectively

It's straightforward: read to understand, cull footnotes and references for additional sources, and consider how your research fits into existing scholarship.

Jeff Jenson
Sarah Ruble
Julie Gilbert

Table of Contents:

Archival Resources
  • College and Lutheran Church Archives

    The College and Lutheran Church Archives consist primarily of two bodies of records. The College Archives contain information relating to the College's history created by students, faculty, departments, and programs. The Lutheran Church Archives consist primarily of administrative records of Minnesota affiliates of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). In addition, there are records of local congregations and mission related materials.
    • Select Archival Collections at Gustavus - Talk to Jeff (me) for more options
      • Unprocessed Materials (This means you need to come to the Archives to learn more.)
        There are loads of unprocessed materials relating to missions of the Lutheran Church in America. Included are records of the Women's Missionary Society and information about both home and foreign missions.
      • Personal Papers of Ethel M. Akins, 1913-1980. (LCA 18)

        The Ethel M. Akins Personal Papers collection consists of correspondence to and from Ethel Akins, eight diaries, and various photos from Ethel Akins’s journeys to China, Japan, Tanganyika, Yemen, and Ethiopia. The collection also includes various essays on Japan, China, and Taiwan, various testimonials, The Changing China Scene by Gustav Carlberg, two Watertown High School commencement programs from the Class of 1913, and the “Midwest China Oral History and Archives Collection” volume on Ethel Akins.
      • Gustavus Adolphus College Missionary Society and Missionsföreningen. Collection, 1891-1946.

        The Gustavus Adolphus College Missionary Society and Missionsföreningen collection consists of minutes, financial records, membership lists, constitutions, and program materials for these organizations. The Missionary Society’s membership consisted of students, faculty, and members of the public. The organization collected funds to purchase missionary literature and help fund missions. Furloughed missionaries often attended the group’s gatherings. Meetings were held in local English and Swedish Lutheran Churches. Materials for this organization are in English. The constitution for Missionsföreningen is in Swedish.
      • Records of Twin City Lutheran Relocation Hostel (Nisei Hotel), 1943-1948.

        The Twin City Lutheran Relocation Hostel (Nisei Hostel) collection consists of financial documents, ledgers, background information, correspondence, and minutes. The facility was created to provide a temporary home for Japanese-American citizens after their experiences in relocation camps during World War II. The hostel was funded by the Board of American Missions and the Women’s Missionary Society of the Augustana Lutheran Church; it was staffed by just three women.
      • Zamzam Survivors Collection, 1932-2006.

        The Zamzam Survivors collection consists of a variety of ephemera documenting the ship’s sinking and subsequent events. Included are personal accounts, scrapbooks, newsletters, reunion programs, clippings, and some published works on the incident. On 17 April 1941, the neutral Egyptian ship Zamzam, with 201 passengers and crew, among them 144 missionaries headed for mission fields in Africa, was attacked and sunk by a German raider. Of the 144 missionaries, 19 were Augustana missionaries and their children.
    • Books and Databases consisting of Primary Materials - use in conjunction with other materials
      G.D. Hall, Pastor-journalist: Reports Mission Meetings, 1895-1911

      The Augustana Foreign Missionary

      Sabin Americana, 1500-1926
      Sabin reaches into all aspects of American history and culture. It touches upon the political and religious life in North America and at times South America and the Caribbean. It features American and European views of the colonization of the Americas, the American Revolution, the days of the early Republic and Jacksonian period, the antebellum period, Civil War, era of Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction, the settlement of the West and the onset of the Gilded Age. Through published pamphlets, tracts, memoirs, congressional legislation, correspondence, broadsides, biographies, histories, fiction and poetry, eulogies, sermons and innumerable other genres, Sabin opens a window onto the Americas through which few get to glimpse.
  • Luther Seminary Archives, ELCA Region 3 Archives

    The Region 3 Archives constitutes one of the largest collections of American Lutheran material in the United States. Beginning with largely Norwegian, Danish and Swedish Lutheran records (the 1840's and on) and continuing to the present. . . .
Reference Books
Reference books are an indispensable information source. Use them to gain overviews of your topics, which will help you narrow your topic and give you good ideas for search terms. Many reference books also have recommendations for further reading, which can provide you with additional sources.
  • Resources for Religion

    The following reference works provide a sample of what's available. Consult the Resources for Religion guide (above) for many other reference titles. Reference books are shelved on the west side of the library's main floor.
  • Encyclopedia of Religion
    Covers religions from around the world and through history as well as people and ideas related to religion. The articles are written by experts in their fields and include excellent bibliographies. This new edition includes hundreds of new articles, thoroughly revised coverage of all topics in religion, and a handful of "visual essays" that illustrate visual culture as a significant aspect of religion.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 31 .E46 2005
  • Encyclopedia of Protestantism
    Covers creeds, cultural and social issues, important people and institutions, theology, and the diverse traditions and faith groups that make up protestantism, both historically and in contemporary times.
    • Location(s): Ref BX 4811.3 .E53 2004
  • Historical Atlas of the Religions of the World
    Provides a geographical framework for the understanding of world religions, past and present. It features significant descriptive text along with maps.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 80.2 .F28
  • New Catholic Encyclopedia
    This recently-revised encyclopedia covers many general topics, but is particularly thorough in its coverage of Catholic doctrine, history, and traditional practice. Includes many illustrations.
    • Location(s): Ref BX 841 .N44 2002
  • Religion and American Cultures
    Coverage in Volume 1 includes the intersection of culture and various religions in American life. Volume 2 addresses how religions approach various topics such as sacred space, the body, and death. Volume 3 contains a variety of primary source material.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 2525 .R448 2003
Finding Books
  • MnPALS Plus

    The online catalog to the library at Gustavus Adolphus College. Choose "All Libraries" in the search options to search other MnPALS libraries (such as Minnesota State schools) and request books through Interlibrary Loan. View our MnPALS Plus tutorial.
  • WorldCat

    Includes over 40 million bibliographic records representing cataloged resources in 400 languages owned by libraries around the world. Materials date back to the 11th century. Owning libraries can be identified for books, journals, archival resources and electronic resources. Access to WorldCat is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM); the database can also be searched through its free web interface, at
Finding Articles
If you have an article citation and can't find the full text in a database, use the Journal Locator to see if Gustavus owns a print copy of the article OR if it is available through another database. Be sure to search the Journal Locator with the title of the journal, not the article title.
  • ATLA Religion Database & ATLA Serials,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=rfh

    A comprehensive research database in the fields of religion and theology produced by the American Theological Library Association. Includes bibliographic citations and abstracts to journal articles from over 1,500 titles, citations to essays and book chapters, book reviews, and Doctor of Ministry projects. Many journal articles and book reviews are also available in full text.
  • Catholic Periodical & Literature Index,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=vah

    The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index Online is the product of a partnership between ATLA and the Catholic Library Association. The database covers all aspects of the Catholic faith and lifestyle, and includes over 380,000 index citations of articles and reviews published in Roman Catholic periodicals, Papal documents, church promulgations, and books about the Catholic faith that are authored by Catholics and/or produced by Catholic publishers. Indexing for CPLI Online corresponds to the print version, The Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, published by the Catholic Library Association and covers content from over 200 periodicals. Coverage in the database dates back to 1981. (description from EBSCOHost)
  • New Testament Abstracts,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=rvh

    New Testament Abstracts Online is a product of a partnership between ATLA and the Weston Jesuit School of Theology. The database is an indispensable research and bibliographic aid for scholars, librarians, clergy and students of the New Testament and its historical milieu. The database contains more than 38,000 article abstracts, 1,200 review abstracts, 13,500 book abstracts, and 50 software abstracts. Each year an additional 2,100 articles from more than 500 periodicals in numerous languages are selected for inclusion. In addition, approximately 800 current books are also summarized annually. Article coverage in the database dates back to 1985. (description from EBSCOHost)
  • Old Testament Abstracts,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=oah

    Old Testament Abstracts is a product of a partnership between ATLA and the Catholic Biblical Association. The database features indexing and abstracts for journal articles, monographs, multi-author works, and software related to Old Testament studies. Content from over 450 journals is covered. All abstracts are in English, regardless of the language of the original work. Topics covered include antiquities, archaeology, biblical theology, philology and much more. Coverage in the database dates back to 1978. (description from EBSCOHost)
Entering the Scholarly Conversation
  • Cited References Search
    As you find books and articles, be sure to mine their references for sources. By tracing cited works you're drawing on the evidence others have used and may find connections that you would otherwise miss. You will also see patterns emerge: works cited by everyone else are worth a look; authors who write a lot about your topic are worth searching by name, etc.

    Search for cited books by title or author in library catalogs; for journal articles, check the Journal Locator by journal name to see if we have an article you want. Several databases also include features telling you how often a work has been cited. You don't need to find a book or article on the computer to request it through interlibrary loan. Simply use the reference you have to fill out a form for either a book or a journal article. These forms are linked on the Interlibrary Loan page below. (For essays in a book, ask for the book.)
  • Consider the Wider Context
    As you work on your topic, search for information that explores the broader context that serves as the backdrop for your topic. For example, if you're doing research on missionary response to apartheid in South Africa, you will want to look for sources about apartheid and South Africa, even if it does not directly relate to missionaries. This approach grounds you in the context of your topic and allows you to consider how your topic intersects with larger cultural and historical trends.
  • Understand the Argument
    When scholars write articles and books, they are arguing a particular thesis, just as you do in the papers you write in college. Professors rarely ask for a simple recitation of facts; you are typically asked to argue or interpret a set of facts. Scholars do the same thing. When you read articles and books, read carefully until you can fully articulate the author's premise. You are not simply reading for facts but to understand how the scholar is interpreting the facts. This will help you shape your own scholarly argument.
Other Library Resources
We've got several additional resources through the library that you might find useful for your research. Check out these webpages for more information.
  • Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library Subject Guide for Religion

    Resources in the library and online for research related to religion. Includes a listing of subscribed print journals, book browsing tips, key print reference works, and recommended online databases and websites.
  • Documenting Your Sources

    Check out this guide to learn about citing sources in MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style. A copy of the Chicago Manual of Style is housed on the shelves behind the reference desk along with a copy of Turabian.
  • Interlibrary Loan

    For information on requesting books and articles from other libraries, visit our Interlibrary Loan page.
  • Evaluating Web Sites

    Use our guide to help determine if a web site would be an appropriate and reliable source for your research.
  • Reference Desk

    Visit with librarians at the desk, by phone, email or chat for help with any library or research question. Click on the link for more information about this service.
Contacting Jeff

I'm happy to meet with you at any time to chat about your research. I can suggest additional sources, advanced search techniques, and troubleshoot problems you may encounter. Email me at or call x7572.

Contacting Julie

I'm also happy to meet with you at any time to chat about your research. Email me at or call x7552.

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