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Reporting staff at the 1913 session of the General Conference held in Takoma Park. Left to right: H. Mayers, H. E. Rogers, Mertie Wheeler, E. F. Albertsworth, B. P. Foote.

Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives. Shared by Michael W. Campbell.

Albertsworth, Edwin Franklin (1892–1980) and Barbara Maude (Knox) (1892–1971)

By Michael W. Campbell

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Michael W. Campbell, Ph.D., is North American Division Archives, Statistics, and Research director. Previously, he was professor of church history and systematic theology at Southwestern Adventist University. An ordained minister, he pastored in Colorado and Kansas. He is assistant editor of The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (Review and Herald, 2013) and currently is co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Seventh-day Adventism. He also taught at the Adventist International Institute for Advanced Studies (2013-18) and recently wrote the Pocket Dictionary for Understanding Adventism (Pacific Press, 2020).

First Published: October 5, 2022

Edwin was a professor at Washington Missionary College (1915-1920). Later he became a prominent lawyer and law professor, serving for most of his career at Northwestern University. Barbara was a musician and professor of harmony and music history.

Early Life, Education, and Marriage

Edwin was born July 12, 1892, in New Haven, Missouri, to Arnold Franklin (1861-1904) and Madeline von Wortman (1867-1953) Albertsworth.1 He graduated with an associate’s degree from Southwe­stern Junior College in 1910.2 In January 1912, he organized the Young People’s Missionary Volunteer Society in Washington, D.C.3 Edwin served as one of five stenographers at the 1913 General Conference session.4

Barbara Maude Knox was born December 9, 1892, in Ohio to Walter (1858-1931) and Barbara Bell Childs Knox (1864-1950). Barbara studied music for four years: one year with Professor William J. McCoy at the University of the Pacific and three years with Professors George Siemon and Howard Thatcher at Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland.5 She authored a correspondence course on the harmony of music for the Fireside Correspondence School.6 Barbara’s best loved compositions include children’s songs: “The Boat on Galilee,”7 “A Prayer Song,” and “Ask Jesus, He Will Help You.”8

Edwin graduated with an A.B. (Bachelor’s) degree from George Washington University in 1915. Edwin and Barbara married on June 10, 1915. J. N. Anderson (who was famous for his missionary work in China) officiated the wedding at the Knox home located at 7106 Pine Branch Road.9 That fall Edwin joined the faculty of Washington Missionary College as professor of Hebrew and Greek.10 The Christmas after they were married, they organized a play about Chinese missions.11 Barbara wrote a special musical composition about missionary work in China titled “A Song for China.”12 Given their strong support and leadership in the Missionary Volunteer work, the couple may have planned to become missionaries to China.

Ministry

But the Albertsworths were urgently needed to continue teaching at Washington Missionary College. Fall 1916, Barbara joined the faculty as professor of harmony and history of music.13 That same school year Edwin began to teach a course in the history of philosophy. He was a well-loved teacher who enjoyed taking his students into Washington, D.C., to go site seeing14 and had students over at their home.15 In 1917, Edwin added new courses to the political economy and political science curriculum.16 He was the first Adventist professor to teach specialized classes in political science. Edwin continued his graduate studies completing an A.M. (Master’s) degree (1916) and a Ph.D. (1918) again from George Washington University.17 His doctoral dissertation was titled “The Genesis of the Edict of Nantes.”18 His degree, conferred on June 5, 1918, was the first ever doctoral degree in history conferred upon an Adventist.19 He was only the third in the denomination’s history to earn a doctoral degree (after Benjamin G. Wilkinson and Mahlon E. Olsen). Upon finishing his studies, he was appointed the first librarian of Washington Missionary College along with his responsibilities as professor of Greek, Hebrew, and Social Science.20 At the time, he was the only faculty member with a doctoral degree. He also appears to have been the first Adventist to become a member of a professional historical society, the American Society of Church History.21

Edwin was an active participant at the 1919 Bible Conference. He presented about teaching history and use of the historical method during this pivotal gathering.22 Edwin reported about recently attending a graduate seminar in “Historical Method” at Johns Hopkins University. “I am convinced more and more,” he shared, “that we ought to give courses in historical method in our own colleges.” He offered a brief overview of historiography and then turned to the need to find and use reliable sources. Students must be taught how to evaluate sources, especially for reliability. His talk “made a very strong impression” upon W. E. Howell, educational secretary for the denomination who believed adopting such a course offered more benefits than dangers for the church.23

Edwin wrote a condensed version of his presentation for The Columbia Union Visitor. He offered six reasons why the study of history should matter to Adventists: (1) studying history illuminates the Scriptures, (2) helps to understand the present, (3) substantiates doctrinal positions, (4) economizes time and labor, (5) saves one from falling into erroneous beliefs, and (6) widens the intellectual horizons, deepens the sympathies for other peoples, and leads to an appreciation of other men’s deeds and thoughts.24 His article is the earliest attempt at articulating an Adventist philosophy of history by a trained historian. During the “round table” discussions with his colleagues, Edwin expressed concern about students who merely used proof texts from Ellen White’s writings to support their position.25 He was afterward attacked for being too liberal which ultimately contributed to his leaving denominational employment.26

His name appears as a denominational employee for the last time in 1920.27 In May 1920, he graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree from Georgetown University.28 Through the 1920s, he shifted both away from Adventism and into a legal career. His first peer-reviewed article on law appeared in the California Law Review and was titled “Recognition of New Interests in the Law of Torts.”29 In 1924, they were listed as living in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was working as a professor at Case Western Reserve University. During this time, they twice visited the Hinsdale Sanitarium as guests.30 That same year he published a peer-reviewed article on “Current Religious Thought and Modern Juristic Movements” in the International Journal of Ethics.31 He also published two books with Northwestern University Press, The Law of Labor Relations and The Law of Industrial Injuries at the Common Law. By 1926, he was a practicing attorney and teaching labor law at Northwestern University. He is referenced at that time as a former church member. He was admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. In 1940, Edwin was a faculty member in the School of Law at the University of San Francisco. Edwin appeared to maintain a friendly association with Adventism as indicated by a series of articles by him in Liberty between 1942 and 1945.

Demise

Barbara died on August 29, 1971, and Edwin passed away on December 13, 1980. Both died at home in Palo Alto, California. They are buried together in the Alta Mesa Memorial Park next to Edwin’s mother.32 Some of Edwin’s papers have been preserved in a special collection at the Johns Hopkins University Libraries33 and Stanford University Libraries34 archival repositories.

Sources

Campbell, Michael W. “ASDAH’s Founding Fathers: A Look at Adventist Historians in the 1910s and the Development of Adventist Historiography.” Paper presented at the Association of SDA Historians, Oakwood University, April 20, 2007.

Campbell, Michael W. 1922: The Rise of Adventist Fundamentalism. Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 2022.

Albertsworth, E. F. “The Genesis of the Edict of Nantes.” Ph.D. diss., George Washington University, 1918.

Albertsworth, E. F. The Law of Labor Relations: Trade Disputes at the Common Law and Under Modern Industrial Statues: A Syllabus of Cases and Other Authorities. Chicago, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1925.

Albertsworth, E. F. The Law of Industrial Injuries at the Common Law, Under Employers’ Liability Acts, and Workmen’s Compensation Statutes: A Syllabus of Cases. Chicago, IL: Northwestern University Press, [1925].

Albertsworth, E. F. “The Political Aspects of the Protestant Revolution in France to the Edict of Nantes.” M.A. thesis, George Washington University, 1916.

Albertsworth, E. F. “Why We Study History.” August 21, 1919.

Obit. The Peninsula Times Tribute, Palo Alto, California, August 30, 1971.

Notes

  1. http://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tools/tree/185322801/invitees/accept?inviteId=fc155f48-0fcf-4d9b-95b9-7d16ec5803d6 [accessed 10/1/22].

  2. See name under 1910 in “Graduates 1898-1935,” The [Southwestern] Record, May 13, 1936, 3.

  3. E. F. Albertsworth, “The Washington (D.C.) Young People’s Society,” The Youth’s Instructor, April 8, 1913, 14.

  4. “At the General Conference,” Southwestern Union Record, May 27, 1913, 1.

  5. “Harmony by Correspondence,” The Youth’s Instructor, October 28, 1913, 14.

  6. Ibid.

  7. https://hymnary.org/person/KnoxAlbertsworth_Barbara [accessed 10/1/22]; From Sabbath Songs for Tiny Tots, available from: “The Boat on Galilee.”

    https://books.google.com/books?id=agJmDZcovlMC&pg=PA34&lpg=PA34&dq=%22Barbara+Knox+Albertsworth%22&source=bl&ots=CV7ai-Hc3X&sig=ACfU3U1atCkW-zi3R3anZWNhVmDjuHnEVw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjG_5id9b36AhWXMlkFHaX6C_oQ6AF6BAgZEAM#v=onepage&q=%22Barbara%20Knox%20Albertsworth%22&f=false

  8. Published in The Youth’s Instructor, August 5, 1913, 12, 13.

  9. “Miss Barbara Knox Wed,” The Washington Post, June 11, 1915, 7.

  10. “Washington Missionary College,” The Columbia Union Visitor, October 7, 1915, 8.

  11. “Play in Chinese Parable,” The Washington Herald, December 25, 1915, 3.

  12. “A Song for China,” The Youth’s Instructor, December 14, 1915, 10.

  13. The Sligonian, May 1916, 6.

  14. See note, Columbia Union Visitor, January 11, 1917, 6; see also: The Sligonian, January 1917, 20.

  15. See comments under “Washington Missionary College,” Columbia Union Visitor, May 1, 1919, 6.

  16. See announcement by E. F. Albertsworth, The Sligonian, May 1917, 11.

  17. E. F. Albertsworth, “The Political Aspects of the Protestant Revolution in France to the Edict of Nantes” (MA thesis, George Washington University, 1916).

  18. “Three Theses to be Read,” The Washington Post, May 19, 1918, 17.

  19. “G.W.U. Awards 182 Diplomas and 10 Degrees,” The Washington Herald, June 6, 1918, 3.

  20. See The Sligonian, May 1918, 7.

  21. An early membership roster lists him as a member while as a faculty member at Washington Adventist University. See American Society of Church History, Paper proceedings, Second series, Vol. 6, ed. Frederick William Loetscher (New York and London: The Knickerbocker Press, 1921), 219.

  22. E. F. Albertsworth, “Historical Method,” Report of Bible Conference, n.d., 1281-1303.

  23. Ibid.

  24. E. F. Albertsworth, “Why We Study History,” Aug. 21, 1919, 3.

  25. “The Use of the Spirit of Prophecy in Our Teaching of Bible and History,” Report of Bible Conference, July 30, 1919, 19.

  26. Michael W. Campbell, 1922: The Rise of Adventist Fundamentalism (Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 2022). See Minutes of the Board of Trustees, Columbia Hall, Feb. 20, 1919, 1-2; idem., Feb. 10-15, 1920, 3-4.

  27. [H. E. Rogers], Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination: The Official Directories 1920 (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: 1921), 40.

  28. “Georgetown University Commencement Program,” The Washington Post, June 1, 1920, 15.

  29. E. F. Albertsworth, “Recognition of New Interests in the Law of Torts,” California Law Review, 10, no. 2 (December 1922): 461-491. Available from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3474211 [accessed 10/1/22].

  30. “Hinsdale Sanitarium,” Lake Union Herald, June 11, 1924, 12.

  31. E. F. Albertsworth, “Current Religious Thought and Modern Juristic Movements,” International Journal of Ethics, vol. 34, no. 4 (July 1924): 364-384. Available from JSTOR: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2377221

  32. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/192364191/e-f-albertsworth [accessed 9/30/2022] and https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/177271336/madeline-albertsworth [accessed 10/1/2022].

  33. https://aspace.library.jhu.edu/repositories/3/archival_objects/221511.

  34. https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf4m3nb0j7/entire_text/.

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Campbell, Michael W. "Albertsworth, Edwin Franklin (1892–1980) and Barbara Maude (Knox) (1892–1971)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 05, 2022. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=E8US.

Campbell, Michael W. "Albertsworth, Edwin Franklin (1892–1980) and Barbara Maude (Knox) (1892–1971)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 05, 2022. Date of access February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=E8US.

Campbell, Michael W. (2022, October 05). Albertsworth, Edwin Franklin (1892–1980) and Barbara Maude (Knox) (1892–1971). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=E8US.