Exploring The Earl Palmer Collection

A demonstration of tools for exploring the Earl Palmer Collection in the Theological Commons digital library, which contains materials representing sixty-four years of ministry in digital format with audio and video recordings of sermons and seminars plus selected writings by Reverend Earl F. Palmer.

Video: (Running time: 00:05:04)


To access the Earl Palmer Collection in the Theological Commons, Princeton Seminary’s digital library, go to https://commons.ptsem.edu , then click The Earl Palmer Collection. Here you can use the search box to search for one or more words throughout the Earl Palmer Collection. Click “Search Help” for an explanation of what data you’re searching and for examples of advanced searches. Alternatively, click either the image or the “Browse the collection” link to start browsing the entire collection.

When you search or browse, you can choose how to sort the results and how many results to show on each page. You can also see which filters are in effect. Right now, we’re browsing everything in the Earl Palmer Collection.

You can filter the results by choosing various criteria. For example, you can filter by a predefined date range or enter a custom date range. To get items published or recorded in a given year and all subsequent years, enter a Start Date but leave End Date blank. To get items from the earliest year up through a given year, do the opposite: leave Start Date blank and enter an End Date. To get items from one specific year, enter the same year in both boxes.

You can also filter by the kind of material, such as audio recordings or journal articles. Note that “Manuscript” in this context refers to any unpublished document. Clicking on "Audio," for example, filters the results so that only the audio recordings are shown. Alternatively, you can choose multiple options at once by first clicking Select and then choosing multiple formats — such as Audio and Video, or Book and Book Chapter, or any other combination. You can sort the list of options either by the number of such items or alphabetically.

Some, but not all, items in this collection also have a designated Genre. Whereas Format indicates the type of material, such as book or video, Genre indicates the type of *content* — such as newsletter or poem. However, because Earl believed that preaching and teaching are interrelated, such that he made no real distinction between giving a sermon and giving a seminar, the Genre designations are not used as much in the Earl Palmer Collection as in some other collections.

A unique feature of the Earl Palmer Collection is the ability to pinpoint items based on the Place where Earl spoke or wrote the materials. For example, if you know you’re looking for talks Earl gave at New College Berkeley, click on that Place name.

At any time, whether before or after applying filters, you can search the Earl Palmer Collection by entering one or more words into the search box. For example, if you’re looking for materials about Paul’s epistle to the Romans, search for the word Romans. If you know you’re looking for an audio or video recording, you could then filter by those formats. Filtering by audio and video first, then searching for the word Romans will give you exactly the same results.

As this example shows, many of the audio and video recordings are part of a broader series that Earl gave at a particular time and place. To see all items in a given series, simply click on the title of the series.

Regardless of how you go about finding materials, once you’ve found an item of interest, click the title to access that item. Here you can see all the details about this particular item. For audio and video recordings, scroll down to play the recording. For texts, click either the image or the blue Get PDF button to view the document. If you entered a search to find this item, scroll down to see an example of how your search word is used in this document. Click “More...” for more occurrences of this word.

Note that in addition to over 1,700 audio and video recordings, unpublished writings, and journal articles, the Earl Palmer Collection also includes about 3 dozen books and book chapters. With Earl’s permission, these publications are included here in their entirety. For these items, it’s particularly useful to be able to search within the complete text of that particular publication. When viewing the details of a given item, select “Search within this book” and enter one or more words in the search box.