Inventory of the Fletcher Cummings Lester Collection, 1914 - 1964 Mss.Coll.003

Inventory of the Fletcher Cummings Lester Collection, 1914 - 1964
Mss.Coll.003


This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.
Elon University



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Contact Information:

Belk Library Archives and Special Collections
Elon University
2550 Campus Box
Elon, North Carolina
27244
336-278-6599
Email: belkarchives@elon.edu
URL: http://www.elon.edu/e-web/library/libraryinfo/archiveinfo.xhtml

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Elon University. Belk Library Archives and Special Collections
Creator: Fletcher Cummings Lester
Title: Fletcher Cummings Lester Collection, 1914 - 1964
Language of Material: Material in English
Location: The collection is located in Belk Library Archives Satellite Shelving at Elon University. Please contact the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian for further details about the location.
Abstract: This collection contains materials such as books, pamphlets, programs, photographs, correspondences, listings, legal documents, and various other forms of printed material that all pertain to the social, educational, and religious life of Fletcher Cummings Lester (F.C. Lester). Primarily, most of the materials relate to his educational experiences at Elon College during the early 1900s and 1920s. Additionally, much of the information relates to his time as a minister while serving various Congregational Christian Churches in the Southeast United States during the 1930s-1960. Within this particular manuscript collection there is not a great deal of information that cohesively paints a picture of F.C. Lester's personal biography. However, under the section of "Related Materials" one will find references to biographical information available in additional collections and sources.
Extent: .5 linear feet, 1 archival box

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


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Copyright Notice

The nature of the Archives and Special Collections of Belk Library means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Archives and Special Collections of Belk Library claims only physical ownership of most materials. The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research of otherwise should be fully credited with the source.


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Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Fletcher Cummings Lester, Belk Library Archives and Special Collections, Elon University, Elon, NC, USA.


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Gift or Purchase Note

Gift. Please refer to the Correspondence Legal file for more information.


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Accession Information

#2005.04.1


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Processing Information

Processed by Katie Nash, December, 2005

Encoded by Katie Nash, November, 2008


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Biographical Note

General Biography:

Fletcher Cummings Lester was born in 1894 near the area of Troublesome Creek in Rockingham County, NC. He spent most of his early years on the family farm, before attending Elon College in 1914. In 1938 he married Emily Mears Carleton. They had two daughters (Elizabeth Lester Hawn and Dorothy M. Lester) and one son (Harry T. Lester). Emily and F.C. Lester resided at 840 Sunset Ave. in Asheboro, NC. After 37 years of marriage, Emily Mears Carleton Lester passed away in 1975. During December of 1984, F.C. Lester married again on his 90th birthday to a woman by the name of Gertrude King Brown Dawson. Dawson had one son from a previous marriage, James O. Brown. F.C. Lester suffered from lung cancer (although he never smoked) and passed away in his home on Sunset Ave., December 7, 1991.

Education Experiences:

F.C. Lester attended Elon College during the years of 1914-1918. He was ordained as a minister in 1916. He established a scholarship endowment fund in his name at Elon College/University for students that are planning on entering the ministry and for those in need of financial assistance. The first gift to this endowment fund was given in 1985. Funds from this endowment are still being awarded to Elon students today. In addition, he attended Yale University Divinity School from 1921-1924.

Religious Involvement:

During a meeting in Seattle, WA in the early 1930s (concerning the possible merger of the Congregational and Christian churches), F.C. Lester served as a representative for the Christian Church. F.C. Lester supported the merger because he felt that it would help with race relations among similar denominations. As a result of this meeting, the two denominations were merged in 1933.

F.C. Lester became the first superintendent of the Southern Christian Convention and remained in this position during the years of 1938-1946. Moreover, during these years, he served as a minister in over 200 churches in a variety of areas in North Carolina and Virginia including, Haw River, NC; Graham; Liberty; Asheboro; High Point; Franklin, VA; Southampton; Centerville; Spring Hill; Waverly; and Norfolk. F.C. Lester served as the pastor for the Asheboro Congregational Christian Church (now Asheboro United Church of Christ) from 1946-1957. He continued to serve there as an interim pastor until 1986.

During 1962, F.C. Lester lived in High Point, NC and was the pastor of the local Congregational Christian Church. However, he spent most of his time working in Asheboro, NC as the editor of The Christian Sun (religious publication). Also while living in High Point, he served as the pastor emeritus of the High Point First Christian United Church of Christ.

In 1966, F.C. Lester traveled the world and visited various United Church of Christ missionaries in order to get a better idea of what various churches and missionaries were involved with globally. About a year later he returned to the United States and informed and spoke to multiple United Church of Christ congregations about the missionaries and outreach programs around the world.

Editor, Awards, and Memberships:

F.C. Lester was the editor of the religious publication, The Christian Sun, from 1957-1964. The Christian Sun was published out of Asheboro, NC. During 1956 (prior to Lester being the editor) there were 2,700 subscribers, but by 1962 there were 3,400.

In 1943, F.C. Lester was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Defiance College in Ohio.

While F.C. Lester attended Elon College in the early 1900s, he was a member of the Philologian Society and the Student Volunteer Band. During the years of 1938-1946, he served on the executive staff for the Southern Convention. In addition, he was a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Biographical Sources:

Virginian-Pilot
May 6, 1962
Randolph Guide
December 11, 1991
The Courier-Tribune
December 11, 1991
The Southern Conference News
January 1992


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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials such as books, pamphlets, programs, photographs, correspondences, listings, legal documents, and various other forms of printed material that all pertain to the social, educational, and religious life of Fletcher Cummings Lester (F.C. Lester). Primarily, most of the materials relate to his educational experiences at Elon College during the early 1900s and 1920s. Additionally, much of the information relates to his time as a minister while serving various Congregational Christian Churches in the Southeast United States during the 1930s-1960. Within this particular manuscript collection there is not a great deal of information that cohesively paints a picture of F.C. Lester’s personal biography.

The collection is arranged alphabetically into six series by type, and then chronologically within each series. All of the books in this collection are religious texts, specifically relating to the Christian Church (1:2). In addition, copies of the religious publication The Christian Sun are included during the dates of when F.C. Lester was the editor (1:1).

The correspondence series incorporates a picture of the social, educational, and religious life of F.C. Lester. The majority of the correspondences in this series are short notes written in the 1920s to F.C. Lester from fellow female Elon College students. The female students are replying to Lester’s inquiries about whether or not they will be able to join him for company during social hours on Sunday afternoons (2:1-2:7). A woman by the name of Juanita wrote him long letters dealing with a great deal of topics including health, school, social life, home life, and religion (2:1-2:3, 2:6). Other correspondences of interest were written during the time that F.C. Lester was the minister for the Southern Christian Convention (2:8-2:10).

Of particular financial interest are four original checks found in the legal documents series. All of the checks were written in the early 1920s for an amount of less than $30.00. Two of the checks were written to the Board of Trustees at Elon College for $20.00 to be deposited into the Elon Standardization Fund (3:1). The other two checks were also written to the Board of Trustees at Elon College, but for $25.00 and to be deposited into the Elon Emergency Fund (3:2).

The listings series is one of the smaller ones in the collection, and contains two lists that pertain to Elon College students during the early 1900s and late 1920s. Of particular historical interest to Elon College is the Class of 1918 listing. This list also includes new members of the sophomore and junior classes as well as the names of the officers in each class (4:1). Moreover, the other list in this series includes names of students that received credit for the International Standard Training Courses in 1928. In addition to listing the names, the first part of the list also reports the grades each student received (4:2).

The photograph series contains photos primarily of F.C. Lester and his wife, Emily, when they are in their 70’s and/or 80’s (5:1). However, there are some negatives in this series that may possibly be of the deceased Emily Lester (5:3). There is one photograph of Elon College’s first president, William S. Long (5:2).

The largest series in this collection, printed material, contains a variety of information and types of materials. Primarily, this series contains pamphlets and booklets relating to the Southern Christian Convention and publications relating to events at Elon College during the 1920s (6:1-6:13).


Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of material into six series, then chronologically within each series. The series are: Books; Correspondence; Legal Documents; Listings; Photographs; Printed Material.


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Online Catalog Headings

These and related materials may be found under the following headings in online catalogs.

Lester, Fletcher Cummings
Christian Church South -- History
Christian Church
Christian education directors
Elon College
Congregational Christian Churches -- History
Southern Christian Convention
Elon University -- Archival resources

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Related Material

Please consult with the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian for additional information about related materials to this collection.

Detailed Description of the Collection

1. Books. Inclusive: 1867-1964. Bulk: 1930s-1960s.
2 Folders. ca. 20 Items.
The books in this series are divided up into two categories: a) The Christian Sun and b) Miscellaneous. Generally, The Christian Sun editions incorporate the years of the 1930s-1960s. The books in the miscellaneous category pertain to the late 1800s-early 1900s. All of the books in this collection are of a religious nature.
Folder 1. The Christian Sun (1936-1940; 1956-1964)
Folder 2. Miscellaneous.
* The principles and government of the Christian Church, Raleigh, NC 1894
* The principles and government of the Christian Church, Petersburg, VA 1867
* The Christian Hymnary, Dayton, OH 1909
* The Five Cardinal Principles…, Raleigh, NC 1886
* The Holy Bible-Scofield Reference Bible, New York, NY 1917
* Lives of Christian Ministers, Richmond, VA 1909
2. Correspondence. Inclusive: 1914-1934. Bulk: pre-1920s.
10 Folders. ca. 65 Items.
The correspondence in this series are arranged chronologically. Most of the correspondence are letters written to F.C. Lester either from classmates, close friends, or professors. The majority of the longer letters are written to F.C. Lester from a woman named Juanita. Her last name is unknown. In addition, some of the shorter letters are written to F.C. Lester from female acquaintances including Hannah Fuquay, Pauline Lawrence, and Gertrude Minniear. All of the letters offer a small glimpse into the personal, academic, and social life of F.C. Lester while he was attending Elon College during the early 1900s.
Of particular interest in the letters written to F.C. Lester from the three women mentioned above, is that most of the correspondence are replies stating whether or not they will be able to share the company of F.C. Lester during “social hour” on Sunday afternoons at the College. An example of these replies can be found in almost every correspondence folder in this collection. Many of the letters from Gertrude Minniear include discussion pertaining to papers, speeches, and events relating to the debate team, in which they were both members (2:4). The only time the voice and writing of F.C. Lester is found within this collection is a quote that Gertrude Minniear repeats in a letter she writes to F.C. Lester. The quote is from a letter F.C. Lester wrote to Gertrude, and it reads “But then I am inclined to think that I am giving you a blessing by not writing; for your life may be the happier as it is than if I should write” (2:4). Gertrude did not understand what he meant by this, so she was attempting to clarify the meaning of the statement.
An interesting piece of historical information about Elon College can be found in a letter from President Leon E. Smith to Rev. F.C. Lester in December of 1934 (2:10). The letter is in response to a letter that F.C. Lester had written to L.E. Smith regarding dancing and playing cards at Elon College. When President Smith responded, he made seven forthcoming statements about the issues surrounding dancing and card playing at Elon College. In addition, even though President Smith did not personally agree that these two practices should be allowed, he carefully outlined some reasons why they should be allowed at the College. For example, he stated in his letter to F.C. Lester, “Second, at least 90% of the present student body favor it and are permitted to dance in their homes and other places without interference by their parents” (2:10). The letter contains the original signature of Leon E. Smith (2:10). Moreover, this letter was written during the Great Depression, so one can sense the stressful times (2:10).
Also found within this series are original signatures of President William A. Harper and F.C. Lester (2:7, 2:9). In many letters typed from W.A. Harper, he discusses the importance of sending out Elon College applications and letters to prospective students and organizations in order to recruit more students (2:9).
There are a number of other letters in this series that revolve around the themes and ideas mentioned in the above paragraphs. Generally, the letters are from F.C. Lester’s time as a student at Elon College, as well as when he served as minister for the Southern Christian Convention.
Folder 1. Letters. No Date.
* Baudalph, Mary-Elon Board
Folder 2. Letters. No Date.
* Volunteer Band
* Minniear, J. Gertrude
* Professor Randolph
* Keyser, Mattie
* Parrish, Sadie
* Lawrence, Pauline
Folder 3. Letters. No Date.
* Minniear, J. Gertrude
* Fuquay, Hannah
* Elon Volunteers
Folder 4. Letters. No Date.
* Baudalph, Mary
* Wills, J. Norman
Folder 5. Letters. 1914.
* Fuquay, Hannah
Folder 6. Letters. 1915.
* Fuquay, Hannah
* Lawrence, Pauline
* Minniear, Gertrude
Folder 7. Letters. 1916.
* E.H. Bowling Fund
* Lester, Fletcher Cummings
* Harper, William Allen
* Trollinger, Grace
* Johnson, Ruth
* Lawrence, Pauline
* Bowden, Alma
* McAdams, Frances
* Cox, Rev. L.I. -Treasurer of Elon College
* Amick, Thomas C.
Folder 8. Letters. 1921.
* E.H. Bowling Fund
* Amick, Thomas
Folder 9. Letters. 1930.
* Truitt, Jewel-Waverly, VA
* Harper, William Allen
* Southern Christian Convention
* Lester, Fletcher Cummings-Waverly, VA
* Sharpe, Elizabeth
Folder 10. Letters. 1934.
* Lester, Fletcher Cummings-Hardy Ave., Berkeley, VA
* Norfolk, VA
* Smith, Leon Edgar-President of Elon College
* Jay, Virginia
* Smith, Alma
* Perkins, Orva
* Lea, Hampton
* Cook, Oliver
* Cooper, Bill
* Smith, Rebecca
* Britt, Thomas
* Smith, Leon Edgar, Jr.
* Christian Sun
3. Legal Documents. 1920s.
2 Folders. 4 Items.
This is one of the smallest series in the collection. It contains two types of materials, both original documents. One item is a check for $20.00, written to the Board of Trustees of Elon College to be deposited into the Elon Standardization Fund. The check was written on December 1, 1921 and signed by F.C. Lester while he was living in Graham, NC. There is a second check written for the same amount for the next year, 1922 (3:1).
There are another 2 checks written and signed by F.C. Lester to the Board of Trustees of Elon College to be deposited into the Elon Emergency Fund. Each check is for $25.00. One was written December 1, 1924 and the other in 1925. The signature of C.M. Cannon is on the check from 1924 verifying that the check was paid to the account. Also, the signature of J.C. Amick is on the 1925 check, verifying that the check was paid to the account (3:2).
Folder 1. Checks. Elon Standardization Fund. 1920s.
* Lester, Fletcher Cummings
* Graham, NC
Folder 2. Receipts. Elon Emergency Fund. 1920s.
* Lester, Fletcher Cummings
* New Haven, Connecticut
4. Listings. pre-1930.
2 Folders. 2 Items.
This is another of the smaller series in the collection. It contains two different sets of listings, both relating to Elon College. The first listing contains the names of students in the Class of 1918 (4:1). In addition to the listing of the Class of 1918, there is a brief list of new names that are to be added to the sophomore and junior class list (4:1). The listings not only give the full name of the student, but also their hometown and state.
The second sets of listings are names of students receiving credit for international standard training courses during June of 1928 (4:2). The list gives the name of the student, where they are from, and the grade they received in the class (4:2).
Folder 1. Elon Class of 1918.
Folder 2. International Standard Training Course. 1928.
5. Photographs. No Date.
3 Folders. 7 Items.
This additional small series contains both photographs and negatives. There are no dates on the photographs, but the first set are primarily of F.C. Lester and his wife Emily, possibly when they were in their late 70’s or early 80’s (5:1). These photographs could have been taken during the late 1980s or early 1990s. There is one photograph of the first President of Elon College, William S. Long (5:2). Again, there is no date on this photograph, but W.S. Long was President of Elon during the years of 1889-1894.
The negatives contain no identification of who is in the picture or where it was taken. Moreover, many of the pictures appear to be inside a funeral home and there are a few photos of a woman in a casket (5:3). There is one small reference in one of the photographs that says “Grandmother” near a flower arrangement. This woman could possibly be Emily Lester (5:3).
Folder 1. Lester, Fletcher Cummings.
* Danieley, James Earl
* Danieley, Verona
* Lester, Emily
* Lester, Fletcher Cummings
Folder 2. Long, William Samuel.
Folder 3. Negatives. No Date.
6. Printed Material. Inclusive: 1897-1934. Bulk: 1920s.
13 Folders. 15 Items.
This is one of the largest and most diverse series in the collection. The materials in this series range from items relating to Elon College, the Southern Christian Convention, and the Leadership Training School. Many of the small booklets pertain directly to the origin, principles, history, and government of the Christian Church (6:2, 6:3).
The items that relate to the Southern Christian Convention include a booklet that is the program of the 22nd Regular Session of the SCC held in Burlington, NC over a 4 day period (6:4). Moreover, there is also another program of the 26th Regular Session of the SCC held in Norfolk, VA at the Christian Temple, during the time when Leon Edgar Smith was the pastor (6:13).
Materials in the collection that are relevant to Elon College include a 1934 Commencement program (6:10), a 1916 program of a music event by the students in the Music Department (6:12), and a program of the 1916 Junior-Senior Debate (6:11).
There are a few items that relate to schools held at Elon College, mostly during the summer months. There is a pamphlet for the 3rd Annual Session of the Elon Chatauqua, which was a training school for Christian leaders (6:5). In addition, there are pamphlets for the Leadership Training Summer School and the Young People’s Summer School (6:6, 6:8). Both of these summer schools were held at Elon College and sponsored by the Board of Christian Education. Furthermore, F.C. Lester was the minister and Chairman of the Leadership Training Summer School session during 1932 (6:6).
Folder 1. Advertisements. Elon College, NC. 1920s.
Folder 2. Booklet. Origin and principles of the Christians.
Folder 3. Booklet. Origin, government, and principles of the Christian Church.1897.
* Moffitt, Emmett
* Christian Sun
Folder 4. Booklet. Southern Christian Convention. 1916.
Folder 5. Pamphlets. Elon Chatauqua. 1920s.
* Walters, Rev. W.T.-Chairman
* Coghill, Pattie-Field Secretary
* List of 1924 Faculty
* Brown, W.M.-Burlington, NC
* Patton, Mrs. J.W.-Elon College, NC
Folder 6. Pamphlets. Leadership Training (summer school). 1920s.
* Lester, Fletcher Cummings-Dean
* Scott, Rev. W.T.-Dean of boys
* Stewart, Grace-Dean of girls
* Truitt, Jewel-Registrar
* Chase, Priscilla-Registrar
* Cotton, Irene
* Eley, Marian-organist
Folder 7. Pamphlets. Miscellaneous.
* "Plan of Union of the Congregational and Christian Churches"
Folder 8. Pamphlets. Young People's Summer School. 1928.
* Rowland, Dr. C.H.-Chairman
* Coghill, Pattie-Field Secretary
* Henderson, NC
Folder 9. Program. Eastern Virginia Christian Conference. 113th Annual. 1933.
* Holy Neck Christian Church
* Holland, VA
Folder 10. Program. Elon College Commencement. 44th Annual. 1934.
Folder 11. Program. Elon College Junior and Senior Debate. 1916.
* Fleming, H.J.
* McCulloch, Warren
* Raper, J.F.
* Rainey, E.H.
* Heatwole, Victor P.-President
* Thomas, Blanche-Secretary
* Vaughan, L.W.-Chief Marshal
* Boone, Alberta
* Hayworth, Lela
* Simpson, Annie
* Johnston, Mamie
Folder 12. Program. Music Department. 1916.
* Garrett, Verna D.
* Franks, William C.
* Taylor, Bettie B.
* Heatwole, Victor P.
* Simpson, Annie
* Minniear, Gertrude
* Atkinson, Jennie Willis
Folder 13. Program. Southern Christian Convention. 1924.
* Christian Temple
* Norfolk, VA
* Smith, Leon Edgar-Pastor and President
* Newman, N.G.-Vice President
* Elon College, NC
* Johnson, I.W.-Secretary
* Suffolk, VA
* Andrews, Mary-Asst. Secretary
* Wicker, W.C.-Treasurer