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Archives and Special Collections at Southeastern: Schaeffer, Francis A. papers

This guide is designed to introduce researchers to Archives and Special Collections at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Francis A. Schaeffer papers, 1822-1999, predominant 1935-1984

Creator: Schaeffer, Francis A. (Francis August)
Date: 1822-1999, predominant 1935-1984
Extent: 100.2 cu.ft.

Biographical Note: Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984) attended Hampton-Sydney College and upon graduation married Edith Seville (daughter of missionaries to China) and entered Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1935. After two years he transferred to the newly established Faith Seminary in Wilmington, Delaware along with Vernon Grounds and others. Schaeffer served two churches as pastor before moving his family to Switzerland in 1948 where he started a ministry for children living in war-torn Europe. In time, his ministry developed beyond a children’s ministry to university students and as Time magazine noted, to a ministry to the European intellectual. This was not something that was planned, it merely developed as the Schaeffers prayed and lived out their lives the best they knew how under the Lordship of Christ. In time, their work was known officially as L’Abri (Fr. Shelter) which continues to this day.

Schaeffer was a Christian apologist known for allowing unbelievers to realize the logical conclusion of their worldviews. He referred to this as “taking off the roof” in that, he allowed the unbelievers to see that the system which they were trusting in simply did not fit the real world. Once they came to that point, he would show them how historic Christianity answered the questions reality presented. A hallmark of Schaeffer’s apologetic was that it was driven by a deep and abiding love for humanity in which he truly empathized with those who were struggling with life in a world that was terribly out of joint. He would spend hours with one person asking questions until the individual had sufficient information to think further on the matter.

In 1978 Schaeffer learned that he had lymphoma cancer, succumbing to it in May 1984. However, almost until his death he maintained an active speaking schedule. During his life time he carried on a voluminous correspondence with many of the great evangelical minds of the day. He wrote 27 books (and many pamphlets), and produced two films with his son Frank. Of the two films, the most well-known is How Should We then Live? which is a companion to a book by the same title. In the second film, Whatever Happened to the Human Race with Everett Koop, Schaeffer shows the social and philosophical outcomes of abortion. Schaeffer also wrote on responsible stewardship of creation long before others in the 20th Century Christian community were talking about it. Schaeffer not only could think with the best minds of his day, he lived out his Christianity in very practical ways and urged all in the church to do the same. In the end, only the Day will properly declare the breadth and depth of influence the life of this one man had on the Kingdom of God.

Scope and Contents: This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, annotated periodicals and books, research notes, audio recordings, films, and other materials ranging from 1822-1999 (predominantly from 1935-1984)  that were created and collected by Francis A. Schaeffer. These papers represent the bulk of Schaeffer's personal papers accumulated throughout his lifetime, and, as such, they document many different facets of his work and ministry. Papers in the collection document Schaeffer's communication with Christian leaders and those seeking his advice, his assessment of cultural ideas and trends in the margins of periodicals, books, and other publications, and the development of his own lectures and publications throughout the editing process. The audio recordings in the collection document Schaeffer's lectures, many of which were made available during his lifetime through the L'Abri Tape Library, as well as previously unavailable recordings of Saturday Night Talks and other group discussions between Schaeffer and visitors at L'Abri.
Language(s): English, French, Italian, Korean, predominant English
Conditions Governing Access: The Francis A. Schaeffer papers are owned by the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) serves as the custodian of the collection. Access to this collection at SEBTS is restricted by the Foundation and requires the approval of the Director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Collection. To request permission to conduct research in the Francis A. Schaeffer papers, please see additional information on research inquiries.
Technical Access: Audio recordings and films in the collection cannot be accessed in their original format. They are made available to approved researchers as soon as digital copies are created. Only a limited number of films in the collection will be digitized.
Conditions Governing Use: Copyright for materials created by Francis and Edith Schaeffer is owned by the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation and the Foundation's permission is required to include substantial quotes in any published work (see the Access Request Form for details). Reproduction of any materials in the collection in any format for any purpose is prohibited.
Existence and Location of Copies: The papers and audio recordings in the Francis A. Schaeffer papers have been digitized and digital copies are available for use onsite at SEBTS, The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation Headquarters in Gryon, Switzerland, and the Hill House in Austin, Texas. Please contact your preferred research site to request permission to access the digital collection and plan your research visit.
Repository: Archives and Special Collections, Library at Southeastern, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
Resource Identifier: ARC.001