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Mercer’s Year of India Series to Feature Historic 'Magic Lantern' Show on Oct. 21

October 4, 2010

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or

MACON — Dr. Deborah Van Broekhoven of the American Baptist Historical Society will present a lecture and “Magic Lantern” Show of India on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Peyton Anderson Auditorium in the Science and Engineering Building on Mercer University’s Macon campus. The lecture will demonstrate an antique magic lantern projector using early images of mission work in India and is part of Mercer’s “Year of India” series, presented by the College of Liberal Arts’ Asian Initiative Committee. 

For older generations, “magic lanterns” projected these images for evangelistic meetings on the Western frontier, for public entertainment and for missionary services in India and Burma as recently as the 1960s. Drawn from a larger collection of more than 2,000 images illustrating mission work at home and abroad, the India images come from several slide sets. Mostly taken by missionaries themselves, the images date from between 1890 and the 1920s. The slide sets, shipped in special wooden boxes and accompanied by scripts, were loaned out to churches during the 1920s.

“How many of us have stacks of old 35 mm slides, video tapes, or vinyl records stored somewhere, perhaps in a closet, behind our more recent collections of CDs and DVDs? Perhaps you — or more likely your parents — recall seeing slide shows, filmstrips, and 16 mm motion pictures of John Bunyon’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ or of Johnnie Appleseed in school or church,” Dr. Van Broekhoven said. “Before any of these media were in common use, glass slides about the size of a postcard were the most common means for projecting the story of missions to a church group.”

Because of the slides’ historic significance, the Stewart Huston Charitable Trust gave the American Baptist Historical Society a grant to clean, identify, scan and catalog the slides into a database. In addition to holding these rare images, the historical society’s collections include the official missionary correspondence, reports, and biographies of missionaries appointed to these areas by American Baptist home and foreign mission societies. Those collections enable researchers to find the information needed to identify and provide context for the slide images.

The Year of India series kicked off on Oct. 1 with an Indian dinner celebration by the Indian Cultural Exchange and a daylong workshop for faculty on Oct. 2. Upcoming events in the series include a showing of the film, Slum Dog Millionaire, on Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Medical School Auditorium; and Rangoli: the 5th Annual South Asian Dance Competition at the Grand Opera House on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. In November, social entrepreneur Leena Lavanya, founder of ServeTrust in Andhra Pradesh, India, will speak about her experiences working with the marginalized in Indian society. Lavanya will deliver an evening lecture on Nov. 2 and will be the featured speaker at University Worship at 10 a.m. on Nov. 3 in Newton Chapel.

The spring events in the series include several film showings and a mini-workshop. In addition, on April 8, the Rhythm Riders present Tabla Ecstasy at noon in Fickling Recital Hall.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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