“Archives”: a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.
“Archivist”: a person who maintains and is in charge of archives.
These definitions, while informative, do not accurately portray the devoted passion that Dr. Harold Hunter has practiced the last 28 years as creator and director of the IPHC Archives & Research Center.
Dr. Hunter believes in the importance of preserving IPHC history just as the first appointed archivist, G.F. Taylor, did over 100 years ago in 1911. Taylor and Dr. Hunter share the concern that, without records, “There are now thousands of our members who do not know anything of the early days …”1. It was not until the 1960s that attempts were made again to save personal and church histories. These archives still exist in Georgia, and they have allowed an important part of IPHC history to be remembered.
Dr. Hunter’s experience at the GMC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, began under the leadership of Bishop B.E. Underwood in 1995. When he arrived, the archive area was in ruins with dilapidated stacks of boxes covered in dust and spiderwebs teetering on either side of a narrow path. The Church’s document legacy was deteriorating around him, but Dr. Hunter’s diligence resulted in the installation of the archive’s vault, closed stacks, and reading room present today which will, hopefully, continue to expand far into the future.
Sitting with Dr. Hunter and listening to his stories reminded me of the show American Pickers. If you are not familiar, during each episode, two men travel across the United States asking people if they can dig through their “junk.” Oftentimes, treasures are uncovered, and Dr. Hunter’s quest to rebuild and expand the archives is similar. He traveled countless miles and spent thousands of hours searching through dust, dirt, mouse droppings, and more to find several rare, one-of-a-kind IPHC documents in attics, basements, and outbuildings. Dr. Hunter’s search knew no bounds as he traveled across the nation and the world so that scholars, families, leaders, and others could benefit.
While everything he has recovered is an important addition, one of the most important donations came early on:
“When I was new, I persuaded Mrs. Daisy Morris to donate the Eddie Morris Collection to the IPHC Archives & Research Center. Rev. Morris had been Conference Superintendent on the NC Conference, and Miss Daisy remained there after his death. I first met Miss Daisy during the 1995 IPHC Global Conference in Israel/Palestine. I then visited her several times before she trusted me with those rare treasures that remain protected in the Vault. This remains the largest private collection that I took, and it is, by far, the most valuable.”
Not only has Dr. Hunter searched for original and paper copies, but he was also the first to digitize the IPHC collection and published the first Pentecostal Archives web in 1996. He continued to build these digital resources with an electronic database. He also published the IPHC Legacy (1996-2001), academic articles, books, and entries for both dictionaries and encyclopedias, along with leading seminars and presentations on archives and about the IPHC. Dr. Hunter’s influence is also seen through his call to all IPHC Conferences to appoint conference archivists and helped launch the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives.
Dr. Hunter’s resume is quite extensive; however, his work with the Archives and Research Center remains a highlight of his career. He is truly proud of the people and network connections he has made to create and expand the archives in pursuit of honor and remembrance. “The IPHC has been blessed to have Dr. Harold Hunter as our archivist for over a quarter of a century. His deep knowledge of Christian history and theology provided a broad framework for the effective way he made IPHC Archives an inviting location for visiting scholars. I am very thankful for our personal friendship and all the contributions he has made to the IPHC and larger Christian community,” shared Bishop Beacham.
Dr. Harold Hunter receiving the 2022 Society for Pentecostal Studies Lifetime Achievement Award at Vanguard University in California
Of his time as archivist, Dr. Hunter concluded, “I hope I’ve convinced the Church that their story is worth being protected, kept, and told,” and to do this, a professional and robust archive is necessary so that future generations can continue to benefit.
Dr. Hunter will remain on special assignment under Presiding Bishop Dr. A. Doug Beacham after moving to Tennessee to support his wife as she deals with health issues. We thank you, Dr. Hunter, for your years of service and God bless you in your future endeavors.
The IPHC Archives and Research Center website can be visited here.
- The IPHC Archives and Research Center original article can be viewed here.