New Research Trip to Nashville and Urbana

June 20, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Research

We were able to travel to two locations to obtain valuable materials concerning the Bulgarian Protestant history. The first location was the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives in Nashville, TN where a good number of Bulgarian Baptist periodical publications from the past 20 years are being preserved. Along with them, we were able to obtain several publications of the Ukrainian Baptist minister Ivan Ephraimovich Voronaeff (Voronaev), who after immigrating to the United States pastored a Baptist congregation in New York until receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit. After his Pentecostal experience, Voronaeff founded a Russian Assembly in New York which he later left to travel to Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia to establish Pentecostal churches as an Assemblies of God missionary. Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives in Nashville has preserved a number of issues from the Pentecostal publication “Evangelist,” which Voronaeff began publishing in the Ukraine in the late 1920s.

Also in Nashville, we were privileged to meet with Dr. Albert Wardin, a renowned Baptist historian who has written several pieces on Bulgarian Baptists after his first visit to Communist Bulgaria in the 1960s. We are expecting Dr. Wardin to visit us again in Bulgaria very soon in attempt to begin a round table discussion dealing with the history of Baptist presence and missionary endeavors on the Balkan Peninsula.

We departed from Nashville on our way to Urbana, IL to obtain a long-awaited copy of the Albert H. Lybyer Papers. Dr. Lybyer taught at Robert’s College in Constantinople in the beginning of the 20th century before serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the American College in Simeonovo (a suburb of the capital Sofia). His personal papers at archives of the University of Illinois in Urbana have preserved his correspondence with board members, college officials and representatives of the American Board, which are an invaluable reference to Bulgarian Protestant history. His correspondence as a board member contains unprecedented information of the history of the American College in Simeonovo, and more specifically its merge with the Samokov Missionary School. Dr. Lybyer’s papers contain his personal journals recorded during his early trips across the Balkan Peninsula, which presents the missionary context in early 20th century Bulgaria.

The Albert H. Lybyer Papers

April 1, 2008 by  
Filed under News

As we have reported through the years, a good number of our research publications on Bulgarian Protestant history come from the great treasure of knowledge stored at the library center of the University of Illinois in Urbana. Through this research, our teams have been able to discover documents, books and personal archives related directly to the early period of Protestant presence on the Balkans.

Our last trip to Urbana revealed the personal papers of Albert H. Lybyer who taught at Robert’s College in Istanbul as well as the Missionary School in Samokov. The University of Illinois Archives hold several boxes containing his personal papers among which we were able to identify his diary with records of his arrival on the Balkans, trips taken through Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey from the early 1940s, his grade book and a number of authentic official documents related to the school’s educational program, social activities and financial status. We are in the process of reproducing these papers in a digital format in order to make them available to the Bulgarian researches in the field, as part of our ministry’s endeavor to tell the story of Bulgarian Protestantism.