Jim Roark Donation Expands NGU’s Resources for Southern History
North Greenville University recently received its largest Southern history book donation to date, totaling more than 1,500 titles.
James “Jim” Roark donated his personal teaching library to NGU in summer 2016, after retiring from Emory University, where he had served as a professor for more than 30 years. During his tenure at Emory, Roark directed dissertations for graduate students like Rachel Larson and Paul Thompson, who both now serve on the faculty at NGU.
After earning his doctorate in American history, Thompson went on to join NGU as a professor in the History Department. Today, he also serves as chair of NGU’s History Department and dean of the College of Humanities.
Thompson and Roark had remained friends over the years. So when Roark, a scholar and author of the U.S. South, needed to find a place where his many books could continue to be used long after his retirement, he mentioned it to Thompson, and Thompson seized the opportunity.
“History is still very much a book-driven field,” says Thompson.
Roark’s donation includes recent historical monographs, classic studies, biographies, and even primary sources, with an emphasis on the 19th century.
“This collection provides a fairly comprehensive portrait of the region. Among other things, it explores how the South was different from and similar to the North, and how those differences led to the Civil War,” says Roark. “And because Southern history has, for decades, attracted many of the best historians in the profession, it represents much of the finest writing in U.S. history.”
NGU plans to house the newly donated books together at Hester Memorial Library, set apart as the Roark History Collection. The books will be available for checkout by the NGU family.
“If a student wants to study Southern history in a Christian context, we’re the place to go. That’s our strength,” says Thompson. “This [generous gift] has created a core of books; now, there’s a lot of research possibilities [at NGU] that just didn’t exist before.”
Since NGU is a member of PASCAL’s InterLibrary Loan system, those registered at NGU’s library can also borrow books from fellow state universities such as Furman University, the University of South Carolina, and more than 50 other PASCAL member institutions.
Additional research resources available to NGU students, faculty, and staff include a host of online databases.
“Our databases provide access to thousands of full-text periodical titles, reference books, academic e-books and videos, and classical music,” says Carla McMahan, NGU’s dean of libraries and library director.
NGU plans to honor Roark for his generous donation to the university library later this year. In addition, Roark will give NGU’s annual Hickson Lecture, titled “Free African Americans and the Problem of Slavery.” Scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. in Hayes Ministry Center, the lecture will be open to the public.
“Many of the students at North Greenville University are Southerners, who I hope are curious about the history of their region. By placing us in time and place, history helps explain who we are and why,” says Roark. “It gives me great pleasure to think of my books in North Greenville University’s library.”
For more information about the history degree at NGU, visit ngu.edu/history.php.
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