Fletcher Cummings Lester Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection contains materials such as books, pamphlets, programs, photographs, correspondences, listings, legal documents, and various other forms of printed material that all pertain to the social, educational, and religious life of Fletcher Cummings Lester (F.C. Lester). Primarily, most of the materials relate to his educational experiences at Elon College during the early 1900s and 1920s. Additionally, much of the information relates to his time as a minister while serving various Congregational Christian Churches in the Southeast United States during the 1930s-1960. Within this particular manuscript collection there is not a great deal of information that cohesively paints a picture of F.C. Lester’s personal biography.
The collection is arranged alphabetically into six series by type, and then chronologically within each series. All of the books in this collection are religious texts, specifically relating to the Christian Church (1:2). In addition, copies of the religious publication The Christian Sun are included during the dates of when F.C. Lester was the editor (1:1).
The correspondence series incorporates a picture of the social, educational, and religious life of F.C. Lester. The majority of the correspondences in this series are short notes written in the 1920s to F.C. Lester from fellow female Elon College students. The female students are replying to Lester’s inquiries about whether or not they will be able to join him for company during social hours on Sunday afternoons (2:1-2:7). A woman by the name of Juanita wrote him long letters dealing with a great deal of topics including health, school, social life, home life, and religion (2:1-2:3, 2:6). Other correspondences of interest were written during the time that F.C. Lester was the minister for the Southern Christian Convention (2:8-2:10).
Of particular financial interest are four original checks found in the legal documents series. All of the checks were written in the early 1920s for an amount of less than $30.00. Two of the checks were written to the Board of Trustees at Elon College for $20.00 to be deposited into the Elon Standardization Fund (3:1). The other two checks were also written to the Board of Trustees at Elon College, but for $25.00 and to be deposited into the Elon Emergency Fund (3:2).
The listings series is one of the smaller ones in the collection, and contains two lists that pertain to Elon College students during the early 1900s and late 1920s. Of particular historical interest to Elon College is the Class of 1918 listing. This list also includes new members of the sophomore and junior classes as well as the names of the officers in each class (4:1). Moreover, the other list in this series includes names of students that received credit for the International Standard Training Courses in 1928. In addition to listing the names, the first part of the list also reports the grades each student received (4:2).
The photograph series contains photos primarily of F.C. Lester and his wife, Emily, when they are in their 70’s and/or 80’s (5:1). However, there are some negatives in this series that may possibly be of the deceased Emily Lester (5:3). There is one photograph of Elon College’s first president, William S. Long (5:2). The largest series in this collection, printed material, contains a variety of information and types of materials. Primarily, this series contains pamphlets and booklets relating to the Southern Christian Convention and publications relating to events at Elon College during the 1920s (6:1-6:13).
Additional material discovered in the Elon University Archives and Special Collections Department was added to Mss.Coll.003 in 2019. This material, attributed to Dr. F. C. Lester, consists of 9 additional series: Correspondence, 1929-1972; History, 1789-1978; Ledgers,1929-1980; Minutes, 1857-1987; Newsletters, 1953-1967; Photographs, 1950s-1980; Programs, 1916-1969; Reports,1905-1972; and Sermons, 1924-1950. These materials mostly relate to Dr. Lester's later career and service as a minister, first superintendent of the Southern Christian Convention, editor of the Christian Sun, and promoter of the missionary work of the SCC and Congregational Christian Church.
- Creation: 1914 - 1987
- Lester, Fletcher Cummings (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
The nature of the Archives and Special Collections of Belk Library means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Archives and Special Collections of Belk Library claims only physical ownership of most materials. The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research of otherwise should be fully credited with the source.
Biographical / Historical
Fletcher Cummings Lester was born in 1894 near the area of Troublesome Creek in Rockingham County, NC. He spent most of his early years on the family farm, before attending Elon College in 1914. In 1938 he married Emily Mears Carleton. They had two daughters (Elizabeth Lester Hawn and Dorothy M. Lester) and one son (Harry T. Lester). Emily and F.C. Lester resided at 840 Sunset Ave. in Asheboro, NC. After 37 years of marriage, Emily Mears Carleton Lester passed away in 1975. During December of 1984, F.C. Lester married again on his 90th birthday to a woman by the name of Gertrude King Brown Dawson. Dawson had one son from a previous marriage, James O. Brown. F.C. Lester suffered from lung cancer (although he never smoked) and passed away in his home on Sunset Ave., December 7, 1991.
Education: F.C. Lester attended Elon College during the years of 1914-1918. He was ordained as a minister in 1916. He established a scholarship endowment fund in his name at Elon College/University for students that are planning on entering the ministry and for those in need of financial assistance. The first gift to this endowment fund was given in 1985. Funds from this endowment are still being awarded to Elon students today. In addition, he attended Yale University Divinity School from 1921-1924.
Religious Involvement: During a meeting in Seattle, WA in the early 1930s (concerning the possible merger of the Congregational and Christian churches), F.C. Lester served as a representative for the Christian Church. F.C. Lester supported the merger because he felt that it would help with race relations among similar denominations. As a result of this meeting, the two denominations were merged in 1933.
F.C. Lester became the first superintendent of the Southern Christian Convention and remained in this position during the years of 1938-1946. Moreover, during these years, he served as a minister in over 200 churches in a variety of areas in North Carolina and Virginia including, Haw River, NC; Graham; Liberty; Asheboro; High Point; Franklin, VA; Southampton; Centerville; Spring Hill; Waverly; and Norfolk. F.C. Lester served as the pastor for the Asheboro Congregational Christian Church (now Asheboro United Church of Christ) from 1946-1957. He continued to serve there as an interim pastor until 1986.
During 1962, F.C. Lester lived in High Point, NC and was the pastor of the local Congregational Christian Church. However, he spent most of his time working in Asheboro, NC as the editor of The Christian Sun (religious publication). Also while living in High Point, he served as the pastor emeritus of the High Point First Christian United Church of Christ.
In 1966, F.C. Lester traveled the world and visited various United Church of Christ missionaries in order to get a better idea of what various churches and missionaries were involved with globally. About a year later he returned to the United States and informed and spoke to multiple United Church of Christ congregations about the missionaries and outreach programs around the world.
Editor, Awards, and Memberships:F.C. Lester was the editor of the religious publication, The Christian Sun, from 1957-1964. The Christian Sun was published out of Asheboro, NC. During 1956 (prior to Lester being the editor) there were 2,700 subscribers, but by 1962 there were 3,400.
In 1943, F.C. Lester was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Defiance College in Ohio.
While F.C. Lester attended Elon College in the early 1900s, he was a member of the Philologian Society and the Student Volunteer Band. During the years of 1938-1946, he served on the executive staff for the Southern Convention. In addition, he was a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
Biographical Sources: Virginian-Pilot May 6, 1962 Randolph Guide December 11, 1991 The Courier-Tribune December 11, 1991 The Southern Conference News January 1992
11 Linear Feet (22 archival boxes)
Language of Materials
This collection contains materials such as books, pamphlets, programs, photographs, correspondences, listings, legal documents, and various other forms of printed material that all pertain to the social, educational, and religious life of Fletcher Cummings Lester (F.C. Lester). Primarily, most of the materials relate to his educational experiences at Elon College during the early 1900s and 1920s. Additionally, much of the information relates to his time as a minister while serving various Congregational Christian Churches in the Southeast United States during the 1930s-1960. Within this particular manuscript collection there is not a great deal of information that cohesively paints a picture of F.C. Lester's personal biography. However, under the section of "Related Materials" one will find references to biographical information available in additional collections and sources.
The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of material into six series, then chronologically within each series. The series are: Books; Correspondence; Legal Documents; Listings; Photographs; Printed Material.
Additional material discovered in the Elon University Archives and Special Collections Department was added to Mss.Coll.003 in 2019. This material, attributed to Dr. F. C. Lester, consists of 9 additional series: Correspondence, 1929-1972; History, 1789-1978; Ledgers,1929-1980; Minutes, 1857-1987; Newsletters, 1953-1967; Photographs, 1950s-1980; Programs, 1916-1969; Reports,1905-1972; and Sermons, 1924-1950. Materials in these additional series are arranged by subject or title, and then chronologically. Titles from the original folder were kept; in some cases, folders with an excessive amount of material were divided into two or more folders, designated by a number in parenthesis following the title, such as (1), (2), etc.
The collection is located in Belk Library Archives Satellite Shelving at Elon University. Please contact the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian for further details about the location.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift. Please refer to the Correspondence Legal file for more information.
Processed by Katie Nash, December, 2005
Amick, Thomas C., 2:7, 2:8 Andrews, Miss Mary, 6:13 Atkinson, Jennie Willis, 6:12
Baudalph, Mary, 2:1, 2:4 Boone, Alberta, 6:11 Bowden, Alma, 2:7 Britt, Thomas, 2:10 Brown, W.M., 6:5 Burlington, NC, 6:5
Carter, Mr., 2:2 Chase, Priscilla, 6:6 Christian Hymnary, the, 1:1 (1909) Christian Sun, the, 1:1 (1936-1940; 1956-1964), 2:10, 6:3 Christian Temple, 6:13 Coghill, Miss Pattie, 6:5, 6:8 Cook, Oliver, 2:10 Cooper, Bill, 2:10 Cotton, Miss Irene, 6:6 Coulter, Mr., 2:9 Cox, Rev. L.I., 2:7
Danieley, Dr. Earl, 5:1 Danieley, Verona, 5:1
E.H. Bowling Fund, 2:7, 2:8 Eley, Miss Marian, 6:6 Elon Chatauqua, 6:5 Elon Class of 1918, 4:1 Elon College, NC, 6:5, 6:13 Elon College Commencement, 6:10 (1934) Elon Volunteers, 2:3
Five Cardinal Principles, the, 1:1 (1886) Fleming, H.J., 6:11 Franks, William C., 6:12 Fuquay, Hannah, 2:3, 2:5, 2:6
Garrett, Verna D., 6:12 Graham, NC, 3:1
Hardy, Mr., 2:2 Harper, W.A., 2:7, 2:9 Hayworth, Lela, 6:11, 6:12 Heatwole, Victor P., 6:11 Henderson, NC, 6:8 Holland, Va., 6:9 Holy Bible-Scofield Reference Bible, the, 1:1 (1917) Holy Neck Christian Church, 6:9
International Standard Training Course, 4:2 (1928)
Jay, Virginia, 2:10 Johnson, I.W., 6:13 Johnson, Ruth, 2:7 Johnston, Mamie, 6:11 Juanita ?, 2:1, 2:2, 2:3, 2:6
Keyser, Mattie, 2:2
Lawrence, Dr., 2:6 Lawrence, Pauline, 2:2, 2:6, 2:7 Lea, Hampton, 2:10 Lester, Emily, 5:1 Lester, F.C., 2:7, 2:9, 2:10, 3:1, 3:2, 5:1, 6:6 List of 1924 Faculty, 6:5 Lives of Christian Ministers, 1:1 (1909) Long, W.S., 5:2
McAdams, Frances, 2:7 McCulloch, Warren, 6:11 McCullough, Mr., 2:2
Minniear, J. Gertrude, 2:2, 2:3, 2:6, 6:12 Moffitt, Emmett, 6:3
New Haven, Connecticut, 3:2 Newman, N.G., 6:13 Norfolk, Va., 2:10, 6:13
Origin and principles of the Christians, 6:2 Origin, government, and principles of the Christian Church, 6:3 (1897)
Parrish, Sadie, 2:2 Patton, Mrs. J.W., 6:5 Perkins, Orva, 2:10 “Plan of Union of the Congregational and Christian Churches”, 6:7 Powell, M., 2:3 Principles and government of the Christian Church, The, 1:1 (1894) Principles and government of the Christian Church, The, 1:1 (1867)
Rainey, E.H., 6:11 Randolph, Professor, 2:2, 2:3 Raper, J.F., 6:11 Redding, Mr., 2:2 Rowland, Dr. C.H., 6:8
Scott, Rev. W.T., 6:6 Sharpe, Miss Elizabeth, 2:9 Simpson, Annie, 6:11, 6:12 Smith, Alma, 2:10 Smith, L.E., 2:10, 6:13 Smith, L.E. Jr., 2:10 Smith, Rebecca, 2:10 Southern Christian Convention, 2:9, 6:4 Stewart, Mrs. Grace, 6:6 Suffolk, Va., 6:13
Taylor, Bettie B., 6:12 Thomas, Blanche, 6:11 Trollinger, Grace, 2:7 Truitt, Miss Jewel, 2:9, 6:6 Truitt, Mr., 2:2, 2:6
Utley, Mr., 2:3
Vaughan, L.W., 6:11 Volunteer Band, 2:2
Walters, Rev. W.T., 6:5 Waverly, Va., 2:9 Wicker, W.C., 6:13 Wills, J. Norman, 2:4
- Elon College--History. (Organization)
- Elon University--History. (Organization)
- General Convention of the Christian Church--History. (Organization)
- General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches of the United States--History. (Organization)
- Encoded by Katie Nash, November, 2008
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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