Scope and arrangement
The records of First African Baptist Church, Savannah, GA were microfilmed by The Preservation of the Black Religious Heritage Project (PBRHP)of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, during the month of February 1992. Originals were retained by the church. The collection had been arranged previously in chronological-numerical order, in series, by college students working under the supervision of the Georgia State Historical Society. No attempt was made to re-arrange the collection prior to microfilming. The assigned numbering system which appeared on ledgers, folders and boxes was not changed. The church records are housed in closed cabinet shelves in the museum room. Some records are displayed on tables and in glass cases for easy viewing by visitors.
The First African Baptist Church (Savannah, Ga.) records are arranged in nine series:
The CHURCH MINUTES, 1883-1887,series is comprised of a single large ledger of early church minutes. Begun during the tenure of Pastor George Gibbons, it primarily covers letters of dismission and disciplinary proceedings. The last entries cover the early years of Rev. Emanuel King Love's pastorate.
- 1889-1921, 1962-1963
The FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1889-1921, 1962-1963,series includes minutes on the organization of the Reformation Association for Youth of the Colored Race by Pastor Love in July 1894 and discussions on its guidance and objectives. Minutes of the executive board of Mount Olive Baptist Association's joint meeting with the Zion Association on November 21, 1894 also appear in these ledgers. Details of salary paid to the pastor and sexton and loan payments are entered. Contributions, donations and expenses made in 1962 to 1963 are included in ledger book 5.
The MEMBERSHIP RECORDS, 1915-1926,series is comprised of two register books with members' names and disposition, i.e., method of joining and leaving as well as pledges made. Included is information on baptisms; accessions, i.e., members joining through transfers by letters or Christian experience; reinstatements and deaths, etc.
The DEEDS, LEASES AND LEGAL PAPERS, 1873-1972,series has various deeds and property papers, loan agreements, and leases. Petitions by heirs of Rev. Emanuel K. Love for salary and cash loaned to the church corporation representing indebtedness at the time of his death is an example of other matters contained therein.
The MINUTES OF BOARDS AND ASSOCIATIONS, 1892-1959,series contains various minute books of deacon ward reports, monthly church conferences, board of deacons, and church organizations, including ushers association and First African Baptist Church Brotherhood. Most issues dealt with are dismission, restoration, disciplinary actions against members, election of officers and call for resignation of pastor, etc. A daily journal of Rev. Curtis Jackson (1957-61) has listing of appointments and activities with some commentary; the writing is mostly indecipherable. (See also Reel 5.)
The SUNDAY SCHOOL RECORDS, 1896-1971,series is comprised of minutes and roll books listing teachers, names of enrollees, attendance, and dues paid. There are several gaps in entries for the years indicated.
The BAPTIST YOUNG PEOPLES RECORDS, 1913-1961,series has brief minutes including song, prayer, biblical verse, subject for following Sunday with comments such as, “interesting discussion, and “program was very nice!”
The WORKERS COUNCIL RECORDS, 1943-1961,series covers minutes of meetings, devotional readings and discussions of biblical passages and verses with members commentaries and their experiences. Some loose pages of trustees minutes and a deacons' ordination council meeting in 1956 are among these records.
The CHURCH HISTORIES, PRINTED MATTER AND MISCELLANEOUS, 1871-1989,series contain books on the church's history, articles, a sesquicentennial journal and an historical sketch. A few copies of the church's publication The First African Baptist Informercreated by Rev. Ralph M. Gilbert are included. Church constitutions and death lists also appear here.
Article by Yancey, Wanda, In Savannah, First African Baptist Church Means First. August 1989