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James Herbert Touchstone collection

 Collection — Box: 1-3
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0102

Scope and contents

The collection reflects James Herbert Touchstone’s career as Associate Secretary and Director of Field Services of the General Board of Lay Activities of the Methodist Church. The papers span the years 1908 through 1975 with the bulk of the materials falling within the period from 1945-1960; however, there are materials dating from 1908 concerning his education as well as items created after his retirement in 1963, and his death in 1975. The collection includes his personal papers, which contain biographical information, degrees and certificates, and correspondence. Additionally, a large portion of it consists of materials related to his work with the General Board of Lay Activities of the Methodist Church. Within these materials are correspondence, agendas and minutes, reports, publications, and items related to Touchstone’s professional activities. Writings of Touchstone make up a small portion of the collection. Materials included in this series are his speeches and publications. It contains news releases and printed materials kept by Touchstone as well as memorabilia. The collection consists of photographs of the Touchstone family and others, events such as workshops and retreats, and groups such as fraternities and class photos.


  • Creation: 1920-1979


Rights Statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact

Biographical note

James Herbert Touchstone (1889-1975), was born in Atlanta, GA., to John W. and Eliza M. Touchstone. He attended both high school and college at Clark College, where he received his B.A. in 1915. He went on to earn his M.S. degree from the University of Illinois and a special Certificate of Science Teaching from Columbia University. In May 1965 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Clark College.

Touchstone married Bertha Mae Yarbrough, and the couple had three daughters. After the passing of his first wife, he married Dessie Mallory in 1949.

An educator, scholar, and scientist, Touchstone worked as a Professor of Chemistry, Greek, and Latin at Clark University. In addition to his teaching career at Clark University, he was a Professor of Chemistry and football coach at Rust College, Samuel Houston College, and Philander Smith College, where he also served as Academic Dean and Director of Summer School. In recognition of his achievements, he was elected a Fellow in the American Institute of Chemistry in 1940.

Beyond his work as an educator, Touchstone was an active member of the Methodist Church. He served as a teacher, Trustee, Steward, Superintendent of Church School, and as Church Lay Leader. In 1943, he was appointed Associate Secretary and Director of Field Services of the General Board of Lay Activities for the Methodist Church, where he worked for 21 years. In this position, he taught and gave counsel to Lay Leaders and officers of Methodist Men's Clubs. Touchstone’s responsibility for engagement of the Stewardship Program in the nineteen conferences of the Central Jurisdiction and World Service Representative for the Baltimore area, covered 33 states and the District of Columbia.

Touchstone retired in 1963 – after having served 21 years as Associate Secretary.


9.5 Linear feet

Language of Materials



The materials in this collection are arranged in six series: 1. Personal Papers; 2. General Board of Lay Activities; 3. Writings by James H. Touchstone; 4. Materials and Resources; 5. Memorabilia; and 6. Photographs. The majority of the series have been arranged alphabetically. Please see the series notes of each series for the arrangement of specific series.

James Herbert Touchstone collection (1920-1979)
Under Revision
Finding aid prepared by Danilo Baylen, 2017 October
October 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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