Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2003-12-05

Samford University students and patrons of the university library can now draw inspiration and knowledge from a new collection of 1,000 biographies of Christian missionaries.

The Marla Haas Corts Missionary Biography Collection, a gift to Samford by President Thomas E. Corts in honor of his wife and in appreciation of her service to Samford, was formally presented during a ceremony Dec. 2.

The collection was first assembled in 1999 with a nucleus of volumes from the Cortses’ personal collection, garnered from their international travels, and has been added to since. It includes biographies of Christian missionaries such as Lottie Moon, Albert Schweitzer, and others both familiar and less well known.

The lives recorded in the Missionary Biography Collection have much to teach us, said Mrs. Corts during the dedication ceremony.

“As long as their stories are preserved, they will serve as measuring points for our own journey, and models as we strive to follow Christ’s example,” said Mrs. Corts, who traces her interest in missions to her conversion as a junior in high school.

The stories, she noted, teach that “our faith is worth living and dying for…that countless thousands have labored sacrificially with no name recognition or earthly promise of reward…that one effectively declares the Gospel in many ways, not only with words…that God honors the work of those committed to carrying the good news.”

The collection is housed in the theology reading area on the second floor of the Harwell Goodwin Davis Library.

During the same ceremony, a painting of Albert Schweitzer and Johann Sebastian Bach was dedicated to hang in the library. The painting, a gift to the University from Dr. and Mrs. Corts, was completed in 2000 by Nashville, Tenn., artist Connie Erickson as a theme for a presentation created by Thurston Moore, “The Words of Albert Schweitzer and the Music of Bach.” The original oil painting symbolizes the interrelationship of the arts, and how great ideas and beautiful music are often intertwined.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.