The Quakers

By Hugh Barbour; J. William Frost | Go to book overview
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RUSSELL, ELBERT. ( 29 August, 1871, Friendsville, TN--21 September, 1951, St. Petersburg, FL). Education: Friendsville, TN, school; West Newton, IN, school and high school, 1879-90; B. A. (German), Earlham, 1890-95; Ph.D. (New Testament), University of Chicago, 1901-3. Career: Bible professor; seminary dean.

Russell's mother and his father, a poet, sawmiller, and schoolteacher, died when he was eight; he was raised on a hoosier grandfather's farm. At college he studied the German and Gothic languages. His vacations at college were sawmilling and biking in the Tennessee hills. He was already clerk of his Preparative Meeting at eighteen. He had married his high school friend Lieuetta Cox when suddenly President J. J. Mills asked him to stay on to teach at Earlham. The next year, 1896, he was asked to replace Dougan Clark* as Professor of Bible and was sent to Moody Bible Institute and Chautauqua to learn Hebrew. He used historical and language skills to seek personalities within the Bible. After five years of teaching he insisted on full graduate work at Chicago. He returned to Earlham a liberal in theology and concerned for social ministry as well as missions. William Pinkham accused Russell of not believing in the devil. In 1909 the Russells and their two children visited English and Irish Friends and lectured. In 1914 he ran for Congress for Roosevelt's Progressive Party.

His concerns to liberalize Quakerism and keep Earlham Quaker led him and the West Richmond Meeting to propose building a large meeting-house on campus to serve also for Yearly Meeting session and for students, of whom he was chaplain. When this idea was rejected in 1915, both by President Kelly and by Indiana Friends through the Earlham Board, Russell resigned, going to teach and study at Johns Hopkins and in 1917 to direct the Woolman School, predecessor to Pendle Hill, in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. In 1924-5 the Russells spent fifteen months in England, Germany, and Palestine, working for Wood

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