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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    « Hear Tips to Organize Your Family Archive on Family Tree Magazine Podcast | Main | Lessons from the Archive #2: Maintain Order »

    Another Lesson from the Archive #3: Look Inside the Book

    No, dollar bills did not fall out of the pages, but something even more interesting showed up when I turned back the cover of this ordinary looking Bible.

    FBT estate 7web

    With the help of a bit of book tape and a dime-store notebook, Pastor Benny C. Turner made some very creative DIY enhancements to his teaching Bible. He expanded the Bible by six pages in the front and and another six in the back by adding an entire signature from another notebook; this gave him an additional 24 pages to fill with notes, photos, and pull-out charts.

    The Santa Ana Bible Church at 1103 West Third Street, Santa Ana, California was only one of hundreds of small evangelical Christian congregations dotting the Orange County landscape in the 1950s and '60s. Pastor Benny led the members in worship services every Sunday morning and evening with the support of his wife Frances, my aunt.

    FBT estate 3web

    I'm learning more about this little church group all the time as I work my way through the bits and pieces in my aunt's estate. I had forgotten much about the church until we came across Benny's Bibles -- not one or two, or even a few more, but dozens and dozens of Bibles. The first two dozen or so we put in a box and a lady from the church took them with her when she saw them in the house. The remaining ten or twelve were books with personal notes, photos, and extensive annotations. Pastor Benny clearly "worked" his Bible.

    This particular Bible was special to Benny and he notes on the first page "This is my first Bible teaching Bible -- purchased in either 1952 or 1953?" The next eleven DIY-added pages are filled with quotations, notes, Bible verses, and personal mottos. He has typed some passages and glued them onto the paper. Others are handwritten in ink or pencil. The flyleaf showed a careful scrapbook-style layout featuring photos of Benny and his wife, an advertisement for his little church, an interesting bookplate, and a typed Bible verse.

    The back section shows more notes and verses and pull-out diagrams that could be used as a reminder for his sermons or when talking with a church member. One of these is a miniature colored panorama Jamison's New Chronological Panorama of the Bible Abridged. Somewhere in my aunt's estate we found this same graphic image in two other versions -- a poster size print and a huge oilcloth rendition suitable for hanging on a church wall.

    FBT estate 8web

    Uncle Benny's Bibles are adding to the story of this little church. A few years ago I found a group photo and my aunt identified many of the people who were pictured. We've also found the church membership book, guest book, account book, and even an embossing seal.

    Benny's Teaching Bible isn't the only book to be personalized. In the box I brought home, I found at least two other Bibles with photos, stories, and captions. Together they are helping to build the story of this little church that no longer exists. I'm so glad we looked inside the book.

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    Reader Comments (3)

    I will always check inside of bibles! My husband's great grandmother was married 7 times. Most of her husbands were not included on the back pages of her bible. They were written in at the bottom of random pages in the bible.

    January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSierra

    I thought you would be interested in knowing that the Panorama of the Bible was designed by Rev, Jamison , which I see you already know, but he was the founding pastor of University Bible Church in Westwood , California.

    September 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie

    Thanks for the info, Debbie. I'm not far from Westwood, so I want to check into this church a bit more.

    September 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

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