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David Glenn Hilts

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Hilts, David Glenn (1894–1982)

By Sabrina Riley

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Sabrina Riley was born in Auburn, New York and raised in Dowagiac, Michigan. She received a B.A. in history from Andrews University and an M.A. in information and libraries studies from the University of Michigan. Riley was a member of Andrews University’s library staff from 1998 to 2003, library director and college archivist at Union College from 2003 to 2016, and is presently a freelance researcher, author, and information professional.

 

David Glenn Hilts—better known as D. Glenn Hilts—was an Adventist educator and librarian.

Early Life, Education, and Marriage

Hilts was born on December 24, 1894, in Breakabeen, New York, to a farm family of Dutch Reformed origin.1 His father, David Hilts (1843–1895), died just two months after Hilts’s birth. Hilts was raised by his mother, Millie Kiltz Hilts (1861–1953),2 who married Ernest R. Gates (1857–1942) in 1904. Between 1904 and 1910 the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Hilts’s mother joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church through the effort of a literature evangelist sometime before 1917 and became active in an outreach ministry for immigrant children in Kansas City.3

Hilts attended both Union College Academy and Union College. While in college he and his future wife, Ivamae Small (1900–1947),4 took turns as editor and assistant editor of Union’s student publication, the Educational Messenger.5 Small graduated from Union College in 1920 and later taught English at Union College and Atlantic Union College. Hilts graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1922, and he was valedictorian of his senior college class.6 Hilts and Small married on November 26, 1925.7

Teaching Ministry

Following graduation, Hilts taught English for one year at the high school in Spencer, Nebraska. In 1923 he briefly accepted a call to serve as secretary of the Young People’s (Missionary Volunteer) Society and the educational departments of the Inter-Mountain Conference. After only two or three months in this position, in the late summer of 1923 he was assisting with an evangelistic effort in Clifton, Colorado, when Union College called him to teach.8Over the next 18 years at Union College, Hilts taught subjects as diverse as carpentry, public speaking, and English. In 1927 Hilts’s career took an entirely new direction when he became library director.9 All of his subsequent work was in the field of library science. In 1941 Hilts moved to Atlantic Union College, where he served as library director until 1948, when he moved to La Sierra College (later La Sierra University), where he remained until his retirement in 1972.10

Just before Hilts moved to California his first wife died. In 1956 Hilts married a communication teacher at La Sierra, Margarete Louis Ambs (1912–2004),11 in Riverside, California. Hilts remained in Riverside during his retirement years, and after a lengthy illness he died there on June 20, 1982.12

Contributions

Hilts’s transition to librarianship coincided with the drive for Adventist colleges to obtain regional accreditation. Hilts was instrumental to this process in several ways. Throughout the 1930s he took periodic leaves of absence from Union College in order to complete a professional degree in library science at the University of Illinois. When Hilts achieved this goal in 1938, he became the first professionally qualified Seventh-day Adventist librarian. He helped design and organize the first dedicated library buildings at Union College and Atlantic Union College. At La Sierra College he arrived shortly after the Fulton Memorial Library opened and was able to make significant improvements to its services. At all three institutions Hilts expanded collections exponentially—so much so that toward the end of his career La Sierra College began plans for another new library building that would be twice as large as the original library.13

In collaboration with other early Adventist librarians, Hilts was instrumental in forming the foundation for an Adventist periodical indexing program that later became the Seventh-day Adventist Periodical Index. He also created the first Seventh-day Adventist subject heading scheme for library catalog records.14

In recognition of Hilts’s significant influence in Adventist librarianship, the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Librarians established the D. Glenn Hilts Scholarship in the early 1980s to support graduate education in library science.15

Sources

Bingham, Mrs. A. S. “Foreign Work in Kansas City, Kans.” Central Union Reaper, March 22, 1921.

Brenneise, Harvey. “A History of Professional Meetings of Seventh-day Adventist Librarians Prior to the Formation of the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Librarians.” ERIC, 1991. Accessed July 18, 2019. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED342392.pdf.

“College of Liberal Arts Class Roll.” Educational Messenger, May 1922.

Dick, Everett N. Union: College of the Golden Cords. Lincoln, Nebraska: Union College, 1967.

Find a Grave. “Ivamae Small Hilts.” Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60153101/Na-Mae-hilts.

Find a Grave. “Millie Kiltz Hilts.” Accessed July 18, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60153125.

“Hilts, David Glenn [obituary].” ARH, October 28, 1982.

“Hilts Scholarship.” ASDAL Action, February 1983.

“La Sierra College: Library Crowds Quarter.” Pacific Union Recorder, August 10, 1959.

“Margaret Ambs Hilts obituary.” Andrews University Focus, Fall 2004.

“Millie Gates obituary.” Pacific Union Recorder, April 6, 1953.

Shaw, B. H. “Change of Workers in the Inter-Mountain Conference.” Central Union Reaper, July 31, 1923.

“News Notes.” Central Union Reaper, July 31, 1923.

“Small–Hilts [marriage].” Educational Messenger, December 1925.

“The Opening of A.U.C.” Atlantic Union Gleaner, September 24, 1941.

“Union’s Library Participates in Periodical Index System.” Clock Tower, February 13, 1959.

Notes

  1. “Hilts, David Glenn [obituary],” ARH, October 28, 1982.

  2. “Millie Gates obituary,” Pacific Union Recorder, April 6, 1953, 13; Find a Grave, “Millie Kiltz Hilts,” accessed July 18, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60153125.

  3. Mrs. A. S. Bingham, “Foreign Work in Kansas City, Kans.,” Central Union Reaper, March 22, 1921, 3, 4.

  4. Find a Grave, “Ivamae Small Hilts,”, accessed July 19, 2019, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60153101/iva-mae-hilts.

  5. See issues of the Educational Messenger published between 1920 and 1922.

  6. “College of Liberal Arts Class Roll,” Educational Messenger, May 1922, 7.

  7. “Small-Hilts marriage,” Educational Messenger, December 1925, 30.

  8. B. H. Shaw, “Change of Workers in the Inter-Mountain Conference,” Central Union Reaper, July 31, 1923, 5; “News Notes,” Central Union Reaper, July 31, 1923, 5.

  9. Everett N. Dick, Union: College of the Golden Cords (Lincoln, Nebraska: Union College, 1967), 331–333.

  10. “The Opening of A.U.C.,” Atlantic Union Gleaner, September 24, 1941, 1

  11. Margaret Ambs Hilts obituary, Andrews University Focus, Fall 2004, 31.

  12. “Hilts, David Glenn [obituary].” ARH, October 28, 1982.

  13. Dick, Union: College of the Golden Cords, 331-333; “The Opening of A.U.C.,” Atlantic Union Gleaner, September 24, 1941, 1; “La Sierra College: Library Crowds Quarter,” Pacific Union Recorder, August 10, 1959.

  14. Harvey Brenneise, “A History of Professional Meetings of Seventh-day Adventist Librarians Prior to the Formation of the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Librarians,” ERIC, 1991, accessed July 18, 2019, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED342392.pdf.

  15. “Hilts Scholarship.” ASDAL Action (February 1983), 2.

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Riley, Sabrina. "Hilts, David Glenn (1894–1982)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed June 19, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AC10.

Riley, Sabrina. "Hilts, David Glenn (1894–1982)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AC10.

Riley, Sabrina (2021, April 28). Hilts, David Glenn (1894–1982). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AC10.