LCMS, General Literature Board Minutes, 1920-1960.
- Collection Number: A-0010
- Collection Size: 0.8 linear feet, 5 volumes
At the Missouri Synod convention in 1920 the Literature Committee was created and consisted of two members of the synod in addition to the manager of Concordia Publishing House. The board organized in July 1920, electing Rev. M. Sommer as chairman, Mr. E. Seuel as secretary and Prof. H. F. Bade as the third member. Its duties consisted of appointing committees of experts who were to examine and approve manuscripts. At their meeting in August of the same year, their stated purpose was “to act in a general advisory capacity with reference to the literary censorship of manuscripts submitted to Concordia Publishing House for publication.” This committee evidently replaced all previous committees.
During the first five years of its existence, until 25 June 1926, the Literature Board and the Proceedings erroneously referred to the Literature Committee as the Literary Board. Its name was then changed to the Literature Board. In 1935 the name was again changed to the General Literature Board.
In response to the situation concerning juvenile publications, the synod determined in 1932 that the Literature Board was to guide the publication of periodicals, that it consist of five members and that it now call the editor of the juvenile weekly. This guidance was interpreted in the handbook of 1937 as:
Define the general policies and indicate the content and arrangement of the reading matter brought in such periodicals…. The function of the General Literature Board includes not merely criticisms of items offered for publication but the planning of Synodical literature as a whole…. The planning of Synod’s literature embraces its periodicals.
This brought about some resistance from Concordia Theological Monthly regarding the advisory status of the Literature Board.
The handbook provisions for the Literature Board remained basically the same from 1941, when the section on periodicals was deleted, until its merger in 1960. At that time the five board members were appointed by the president and the vice-presidents. Four members were to be theologians and one a trained parish school teacher, all with experience in publications. Their terms in office were three years, and a minimum of ten meetings a year were to be held. In 1944 the functions of the Committee on English Bible Versions were placed under the jurisdiction of the Literature Board. The board also had a tract committee.
In 1959 the board’s membership was expanded to seven, and it appointed seven subcommittees: Devotional Materials, Exegetical Materials, Historical Materials, Homiletical Materials, Materials in the Area of Practical Theology, Materials in the Area of Systematic Theology and Tracts. Each member directed one of the seven-member subcommittees.
Also in 1959 the synod authorized the board to be merged with the Young People’s Literature Board and the Committee for Research. The new body was to be known as the Commission on Church Literature. Its first meeting was held on 16 September 1960. For further information on the Commission of Church Literature see the 1962 Proceedings (pp. 135-36).
For more detailed information concerning the Literature Board please consult the following sources:
- The Development of the Formal Administrative Structure of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod From 1897-1961 (A report to the Synodical Survey Commission), Report 3C, August, 1961, by August R. Suelflow
- Synodical Handbook (editions from 1920 to 1962)
- Proceeding of the Synodical Convention
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The Literature Board’s records include their regular and special meeting minutes from 3 August 1920, it’s first regular meeting, to 10 June 1960. Some minutes are photocopies in folders and others are in bound volumes. They are all arranged in chronological order. It appears that the last meeting minutes, 2 September 1960, just prior to the merger are missing. The bulk of the collection lies in the last few years when the work load had greatly increased.
f.2 1925-May 1926
f.3 June 1926-1928
f.4 1929-July 1932
f.5 September 1956-1957