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      These letters to Sunday School Board Secretary J.M. Frost (and later T.P. Bell) were sent from laypeople and church workers throughout the South during the Board's first three years of existence. They offer a glimpse of how the work of the Sunday School Board was initially perceived among Baptists in the local churches and state conventions. In many cases the letter writers are Sunday School Board supporters who write about their fellow Baptists who are not. The letters, therefore, tell us something about how the Sunday School Board introduced a new conflict into Southern Baptist churches and state conventions -- churches and conventions that in many cases had longstanding relationships with the Sunday School Board's major competitor, the American Baptist Publication Society (ABPS) of Philadelphia. The question of whether to continue purchasing Sunday school literature from the ABPS -- whose literature was frequently described as "superior" and who had been a friend of Southern Baptists through the lean times of war and Reconstruction -- or to purchase the Sunday School Board's "Southern series," was a call to the laity to choose sides in this conflict between Northern and Southern Baptist leaders.
      Other letters in this group make requests of the Sunday School Board for a job or for donations of free literature to a struggling Sunday school.



A.M. Johnson (Waco, Texas) to Frost (no date)
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This is one of several letters Frost received from job seekers. Johnson reports to Frost that the Sunday School Board's biggest competitor, the American Baptist Publication Society of Philadelphia, is working to win the support of Texans. Johnson feels that Texans will support the work of the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board if the right man -- presumably Johnson himself -- is employed "to travel over texas and put your Sunday school series in our Sunday Schools." Johnson goes on to warn Frost that delay in this matter "will soon turn their sympathies to the other side, and fix them there."

A.B. Dunaway (Churchland, Virginia) to Frost, November 25, 1891
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Dunaway admits to Frost that he had been "an American Bap. Publication Society man," but now he is "converted." Dunaway now desires to convince the Sunday school leaders of his church to support the Sunday School Board. However, Dunaway has already faced resistance in his church to the Sunday School Board's literature, and in this letter he seeks to prepare himself for questions that might be posed by the resistors. Specifically, he asks for assurance that all of the Sunday School Board's profits go toward the Convention's mission work rather than "to private individuals, or a company." He also passes along to Frost the resistors' complaints that the Sunday School Board's literature is of an inferior quality to that of the American Baptist Publication Society.

R.W. Sanders (Chester, South Carolina) to Frost, December 9, 1891
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Sanders relays an incident that occurred at the meeting of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. During the meeting, Sanders had proposed a resolution commending the work of the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The proposed resolution apparently sparked a heated discussion on the floor of the Convention that pitted supporters of the Sunday School Board against supporters of its major competitor, the American Baptist Publication Society (ABPS) of Philadelphia. Eventually Sanders' resolution was adopted, but with an amendment that also commended the ABPS. Sanders' letter gives a play-by-play of this incident in South Carolina.

J.C. Wells (Franklin, Tennessee) to Frost, March 22, 1892
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Wells thanks Frost for sending free Sunday school literature to his struggling Sunday school. He tells Frost that "we are quite poor here" and that his Sunday school is "a regular little mission field that should be looked after by our [Sunday School] Board." Wells places an order for additional Sunday school materials and assures Frost that his Sunday school will do its best to pay for the materials. At the bottom of this letter, probably written by Frost, are the words "one third off regular price."

W.C. Luther (Corsicana, Texas) to Frost, September 2, 1892
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Luther, who is probably employed by the Sunday School Board to garner support among Texas Baptists, reports to Frost on his progress. He tells Frost that he is "succeeding grandly" and that "churches, pastors & Sunday Schools are falling into line." There are still pockets of support in Texas for the American Baptist Publication Society, but overall Luther feels that his success has been "far beyond my expectations." Luther asks Frost for his continued support, particularly in the form of donations from the Sunday School Board to the Associational and State Boards in Texas. While not directly stated in the letter, it is apparent that making donations to the Texas Boards is, in part, an effort to win support from Texas Baptists.

C.L. Bates (San Antonio, Texas) to T. P. Bell, December 10, 1894
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Bates, an attorney and member of the First Baptist Church in San Antonio, has become involved in what he terms a "contest" in his church over whether to continue using the literature of the American Baptist Publication Society or switch to that of the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board. Bates supports the work of the Sunday School Board, but the Sunday school teachers in his church claim that the church's congregation, "on account of the lack of intelligence," is not qualified to select Sunday School literature. The teachers want to continue using the literature of the American Baptist Publication Society, which they consider to be "vastly superior" to the Sunday School Board's literature "in every respect." Bates urges Bell to "refute this charge of inferiority" by publishing a circular on the subject.