Scope and Content Note
The Jack Welch Collection includes slides and papers related to Dr. Welch’s documentation of baptistery paintings in Churches of Christ and Baptist churches predominantly, but not exclusively in Texas and Oklahoma. Baptistery paintings in these churches are typically landscapes, most often of water imagery depicting rivers seeming to flow into the baptistery below the paintings. Members of these churches sought to return to the traditions and tenets of the earliest Christian churches with simple unadorned meeting places and total immersion baptism related in the Bible. Baptism was originally conducted in creeks and rivers. Later large baptisteries deep enough for total immersion were added to the church interior. Although most interior church adornment, particularly art depicting the human form, was avoided, landscape paintings became commonplace during the twentieth century. These paintings provided a visual link to the natural world and to the locations of the early baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River related in the New Testament of the Bible.
Most of the images and papers in this collection are a record of the paintings of Blanche Perry, (See the Blanche Perry Collection at the Center for Restoration Studies, Brown Library, Abilene Christian University). Blanche Perry was a virtually self-taught painter living in Colorado who made it her life’s work to paint baptistery paintings for churches. She asked for no payment for this work and did not advertise yet she is known to have provided 222 paintings to churches in the United States and overseas. Each painting was accompanied by her interpretation of the piece, often with instructions for hanging. Each painting was unique although the interpretations were similar and sometimes identical. The focus on Blanche Perry means the Welch collection is similar in content to the papers in the Blanche Perry Collection. Indeed, some materials may have inadvertently been transferred between the two collections during earlier processing as the documentation and organization is so similar.
The Welch collection is divided into three series:
Series 1: Welch Reference Material - This series includes research about baptistery paintings by Jack Welch.
Series 2. Slides (Box 1) - These slides were taken by Jack Welch primarily of the Blanche Perry paintings in churches and the exterior of those churches. Each slide has identifying number on the slide and the archival sleeves housing the slides have information linking to the slide boxes from which they were taken.
Series 3: Blanche Perry Related Papers and Photographs - The papers in this series consist of the correspondence, directions for hanging, and painting interpretations written by Blanche Perry for various churches. These Blanche Perry related papers are arranged by city, state and country as are the similar ones in the Blanche Perry collection. This arrangement may have been Blanche Perry’s original filing system. Photographs of Blanche Perry are also in this series and were probably given to Welch by the Perry family.
Jack Welch (1941-1996) was a professor of English at Abilene Christian University and a feature editor for the Christian Chronicle. His other publications include religious novels, stories, and poems. In 1993, he started the Christian Literary Service to help young writers in the field of Christian literature. Prior to coming to Abilene Christian University he preached in Iowa and taught at Bethany College and Western Virginia University. His published novels include Decision in Paris, Feeling Free, and Life at an Early Age.
Welch was born in East Liverpool, Ohio and raised in New Cumberland, West Virginia. He received his undergraduate degree in English from West Virginia University and a Masters in creative writing from the University of Iowa. His doctorate was from Carnegie-Mellon University. Welch died suddenly in St. Petersburg, Russia while leading a mission trip. He left behind a wife and two children and a collection of photographs of baptistery paintings from churches in Appalachia and in the Southwest.
His collection was donated by his family after his death. Some of this collection may have been mixed with the Blanche Perry Collection of baptistery paintings during previous processing.
Family of Jack Welch
See PDF finding aid for folder inventory.
Extent of Collection
2 linear feet (2 boxes)
Center for Restoration Studies Manuscripts #65
Center for Restoration Studies
[identification of item], [file or folder name], Jack Welch Papers, 1896-1961. Center for Restoration Studies MS #65. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.
Open to researchers. Contact Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives to make an appointment.
Finding Aid created by
Reid; Drew Winters; Mary Lee Bartlett PhD; Audrey Schaffner, Mac Ice, Amanda Dietz
Perry, Blanche; Welch, Jack, (1941-1996)