University Libraries Complete Processing for Bales Papers
During his time in South Korea, Bales visited with military leaders and observed military exercises.
A new collection is now available to the public in the University Libraries Special Collections department, thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission. The James D. Bales Papers document the life, world tours and political and religious work of Harding College professor James D. Bales. The collection will be of particular use to historians, political scientists and religious scholars.
"The James D. Bales Papers provide a nearly unparalleled opportunity for scholars and those interested in the rise of modern conservatism to examine the growth of this political movement," said Lori Birrell, head of Special Collections.
Much of Bales' work centered around the principles of anti-communism, Christianity and the link between conservatism and free enterprise. In addition to teaching Bible and Theology at Harding for nearly 40 years, Bales authored and published more than 70 books, many of which were about the reasons and methods behind the anti-communism movement. He was part of the National Education Program — an anti-communist group based in Searcy — and produced much of the organization's written materials.
"The processing of the Bales Papers was a daunting task due to the amount of material and time limit," said Heath Robinson, the NHPRC-funded project archivist. "However, thanks to a well-formulated processing plan, we were able to complete the project on time at as high a quality as possible."
Included in the collection are over 400 linear feet of photographs, speeches, correspondence with world leaders, and ephemera, including "parachute Bibles" from Bales' world tour.
The idea for a world tour was sparked when Bales was invited to visit Formosa in 1958 by the Ambassador to the United States. Over the course of six months, in order, Bales visited Hawaii, San Francisco, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (known then as Formosa), Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Turkey, England and Belgium. Throughout the world tour, Bales gave speeches and sermons about Christianity and the efforts of Christianity against atheism and communism. He also continued to write.
The parachute Bibles contained in the collection are from a campaign led by Bales to increase awareness of Christianity in China and to combat communism. Shortly after the Communist Party assumed full control of mainland China, Bibles were airdropped across the country.
Todd Lewis, Heath Robinson and Vera Ekechukwu processed this collection with assistance from eight student workers. Angela Fritz was the prinicipal investigator. The collection is available for use in the Special Collections department, located on the first floor of Mullins Library, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Lori Birrell, head, Special Collections
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