Melvin Watson Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS.0492

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of Rev. Dr. Melvin H. Watson (1908-2006), religious leader, educator, longtime friend of the King family, and important figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the papers relate to his 30+ years of service as pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Atlanta (1958-1990).

The papers have been processed at the item-level and detail a rich history of African-American churches in the South, education at numerous historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and religion.

Dates

  • 1915-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1960s-1980s

Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu.

Biographical / Historical

Melvin Hampton Watson was a religious leader, educator, and important figure in the Civil Rights Movement.

He was born on May 14, 1908 to Peter O. Watson, clerk and Sunday school superintendent of Ebenezer Baptist Church. This church was led for decades by members of the King family, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sr. Watson also studied at Morehouse College with King, Sr. and was a long-standing friend of the King family.

Watson received his Bachelor of Divinity (1932), Master of Arts (1934), and Master of Sacred Theology (1934) from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology. He later received his Doctorate in Theology from the Pacific School of Religion in 1948. He served as Dean of Men and Professor of Religion at Shaw and Dillard Universities before serving as acting Dean of the Chapel at Howard University. In 1946, he returned to Morehouse College as Professor and later Chair of the department of Philosophy and Religion.

Melvin Watson married Agnes Regina Robinson in 1950. The pair had two children: Melvin Watson, Jr. and Sharon Michelle Watson.

In 1958, Watson became pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Atlanta, just down the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church. He served in this role until his retirement in 1990. Watson and his wife were also active in the community, participating in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the New Era State Convention of Georgia. Dr. Watson also served as President of the New Era Baptist Convention.

Melvin Watson died in Atlanta on June 19, 2006 at the age of 98.

Extent

3.36 Linear Feet (8 Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

This collection contains the papers of Rev. Dr. Melvin H. Watson (1908-2006), religious leader, educator, longtime friend of the King family, and important figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the papers relate to his 30+ years of service as pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Atlanta (1958-1990).

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives
Title
Finding Aid for the Melvin Watson Papers
Status
Completed
Author
revised by Zach Johnson
Date
revised June 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


 

About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

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