January 20, 2022

Acquisitions: Harvard-Acquired Pentecostal Collection Offers Up ‘Gold Mine’

From The Boston Globe:

It took years for Bishop Carlton Pearson, a groundbreaking African-American televangelist of the late 20th century, to visit the storage locker in downtown Tulsa, Okla., that contained the remains of his once-vaunted ministry.

In 2004, he had been branded a heretic by his Pentecostal peers for declaring that there was no such thing as eternal damnation, that a loving God would save everybody. His epiphany cost him almost everything: his 5,000-member church, his television ministry, his ranch for troubled kids. As his empire crumbled, his staff stuffed some 300 crates of video footage, music recordings, photos, notes, and financial records into storage.


Now, Harvard plans to exhume that corpse and give it a new life online. Pearson’s media archive, which will be digitized by Andover-Harvard Theological Library over the next two years, will offer scholars a rare unvarnished glimpse inside the closely guarded world of evangelical religious broadcasting — and the careers of some of its most notable practitioners.

Read the Complete Article (approx. 1100 words)

See Also: Andover-Harvard Theological Library

More About the Acquisition/Collection in, “Teachings From the Televangelist” (via Harvard Gazette; May 24, 2016)

Pearson kept the archive in deep storage, but it came to light when Jonathan Walton, now Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and professor of religion and society at Harvard Divinity School, went to Tulsa to study how narratives are crafted in religious broadcast. Pearson’s material was so comprehensive and detailed — raw footage from each produced broadcast, financial records, advertising, and even White House correspondence — that Walton immediately recognized an invaluable resource.

“Nobody can tell a story about religion in America in the second half of the 20th century without talking about religious broadcasters,” said Walton. “They’ve gone from marginal characters to swearing in presidents.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.