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Warren A. Candler papers

Identifier: Manuscript Collection No. 2

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Warren A. Candler from 1857-1941. The papers include correspondence, subject files, writings, financial records, appointment books, scrapbooks, clippings, photographs, miscellaneous papers and memorabilia. Most correspondence is official in nature and reflects the various positions Candler held, 1877-1934, related to the Methodist Church. Topics include the organization of Emory University in Atlanta; mission work in Cuba, Mexico, and Asia; rights for women and blacks, and anti-lynching campaigns, women's suffrage, prohibition, and the Democratic nomination of Alfred E. Smith in 1928. Also included are Emory College financial correspondence and records (1887-1915) and family letters. Correspondents include prominent members of the Methodist Church and the Atlanta business community.


  • 1846-1977

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted Access

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Biographical Note

Warren Akin Candler (August. 23, 1857-September 25, 1941), Methodist clergyman and bishop, editor, and educator, was born near Villa Rica in Carroll County, Georgia. The tenth of eleven children, he was the son of Samuel Charles Candler (b. 1809), planter, merchant, and state legislator, and Martha Bernetta Beall Candler. Among his siblings were several who achieved regional or national prominence. They were Milton Anthony Candler (1837-1909), attorney and Georgia state legislator; Ezekiel Slaughter Candler (1838-1915), attorney, politician, and principal of the Iuka [Mississippi] Male Academy; Florence Julia Candler Harris (1842-1926), principal of the West End Institute in Cartersville, Georgia; Asa Griggs Candler (1851-1929), druggist, founder of the Coca-Cola Company, mayor of Atlanta, and philanthropist; and John Slaughter Candler (1855-1911), attorney and Georgia Supreme Court justice.

After attending schools in Villa Rica, Warren Candler entered Emory College in Oxford, Georgia in January, 1873 as a sophomore. At Emory he served successively as president of both campus debating organizations, the Few Society and Phi Gamma. He also belonged to Kappa Alpha social fraternity. He received first honors in his class at his graduation, July 21, 1875. He received his A.M. from Emory College in 1878.

Candler began preaching in May, 1875. Soon after his graduation from college he filled a supply pastorate in Sparta, Georgia for a few months. He was admitted to the North Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in December, 1875. Candler served circuits in Newton and Watkinsville before he was assigned in 1877 to the Sixth Church in Atlanta (succeeded by St. Mark's) for three years. He then served one year as presiding elder of the Dahlonega District, which was the missionary district of the conference. From 1883 to 1886 he was the pastor of St. John's Church in Augusta.

In 1886 Candler became assistant editor of the Nashville Christian Advocate, official publication of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Two years later the trustees of Emory College elected him president of the institution. They conferred on him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1888 and Doctor of Letters in 1897. Candler's responsibilities included teaching mental and moral science and biblical literature and preaching in the college pulpit monthly. In addition, he served as financial agent of the college from 1889 to 1898. Bringing sound management, he increased the endowment, raised faculty salaries, and arranged for the construction of a new library building. Candler also strengthened the curriculum by lengthening the programs leading to a bachelor's degree from three to four years and by adding two academic chairs (mathematics and history and political economy). He upgraded the law school until the state legislature recognized its graduated as equal to law graduates of the University of Georgia. Candler banned intercollegiate athletics from Emory College from 1891. He sat on the Board of Trustees from 1891 to 1915, serving four years (1898-1901) as president.

On May 17, 1898 Candler was elected a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, a position he held until he reached the age of compulsory retirement in 1934. He continued to live in Oxford for a brief period but soon made his home in Atlanta. His Episcopal responsibilities required that he, as an itinerant general superintendent, travel throughout the Southern states and to Kansas and Missouri to supervise conferences. Candler also maintained an active interest in foreign missions, particularly in Cuba. In 1898 he made the first of twenty trips there in an effort to build a strong native ministry. At various times he had Episcopal responsibility for Mexico (1903-1906, 1909-1910) and for the Orient (China, Japan and Korea) (1906).

Between 1898 and 1910 Candler was one of the bishops on the Board of Trustees of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who opposed the weakening of denominational control over the Southern Methodist-founded institution. The issue became heated in 1913 when Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) offered the Vanderbilt medical school $1,000,000 on the condition that its governing board include administrators from the best medical schools in the country without regard to their religion. Candler denounced the Carnegie offer and the decision of the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1914, on a suit filed in 1910 by the Methodist General Conference against Vanderbilt, rejecting the Conference's right to elect trustees and to veto their actions.

After the Southern Methodist Church had thus lost Vanderbilt, Candler led the move for the church to take over Southern Methodist University in Dallas from the Texas Conference and to establish a new university in Atlanta. The latter was called Emory University, since it absorbed Emory College. Candler obtained aid for the new university from his brother Asa, who made an initial gift of $1,000,000 and subsequently gave $6,000,000 more. The two brothers put the administration of Emory University on a solid financial basis while Warren served as the first chancellor (1914-1919, 1920-1921) and Asa served as the first chairman of the board of trustees. They also helped to build the Wesley Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, which later became part of Emory University. During Warren Candler's chancellorship, Emory University opened a School of Theology (1914), acquired Emory College (1915), opened Emory University Academy (1915), purchased Atlanta Medical College (1915), and opened a School of Law (1916), School of Business Administration (1919), Graduate School (1919), and Summer School (1919).

Candler strongly supported efforts to provide religious education for black teachers and preachers. In 1882 he was a representative from the Methodist Episcopal Church, South who cooperated with representatives from the Colored Methodist Church to found Paine Institute (now Paine College) in Augusta. This school for blacks opened in 1884. Serving on the board of trustees for 30 years, Candler was chairman from 1911 to 1915 and a frequent fundraiser.

One of Candler's major concerns was opposition to reunification of the Northern and Southern Methodist churches. He served on the Joint Commission on Unification, which considered various plans of unification. After the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South adopted one plan in 1924, Candler, as the church's senior bishop, helped to defeat its ratification in the annual conferences. He headed the Association to Preserve Southern Methodism by Defeating Proposed Plan of Unification. When union of the churches was finally arranged in 1939, Candler acquiesced though he did not approve of it.

For many years Candler served on the committee with responsibility for locating a church to represent the denomination in the national capital. His work for the so-called Washington City Representative Church, which became the Mount Vernon Place Church, involved him in demographic studies of the city, real estate, architectural and construction arrangements, and fund raising.

Throughout his life Candler was a prohibitionist, but he opposed organizations or causes that linked prohibition to political issues. Thus he consistently opposed the Woman's Christian Temperance Union because of its support for women's suffrage. He refused to speak against Alfred Emanuel Smith (1873-1944), Democratic candidate for president, during the campaign of 1928 since he thought that the church should separate itself from politics.

Candler was a prolific writer of short articles for both religious publications and secular newspapers, some of which were separately printed. His books included three biographies: Bishop Charles Betts Galloway (1927), Life of Thomas Coke (1923), and Young J. Allen (1931).

Warren Candler received many honors. His name was given to the school of theology at Emory University, to a college in Havana, Cuba, and to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia. In 1932 he was recognized as First Citizen of Atlanta. Emory University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1935.

Candler married Sarah Antoinette Curtright (d. 1943) on November 21, 1877. She was the daughter of the late John C. Curtright, a former mayor of LaGrange and Confederate officer who died in the battle of Perryville in 1861, and Mary Evans Curtright. The Warren Candlers had five children, Annie Florence, John Curtwright, Warren Akin, Emory, and Samuel Charles. Two, Warren Akin and Emory, died in infancy.

Candler died at his home in Atlanta on September 25, 1941 and was buried in the Oxford, Georgia, cemetery. Biographical sources: Mark Keith Bauman, "Warren Akin Candler: Conservative Amidst Change," Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 1975; "'Father of University' Dies," Emory Alumnus, XVII (October, 1941), pp. 3-4; and Alfred M. Pierce, Giant Against the Sky: The Life of Bishop Warren Akin Candler. (1948)


38.25 linear ft. (80 boxes); 2 bound volumes (BV); 1 oversized bound volumes (OBV); 1 oversized papers box (OP)


Papers of Methodist clergyman and bishop, editor, and educator Warren Aiken Candler.

Arrangement Note

Organized into nine series (1) Correspondence, (2) Subject files, (3) Writings, (4) Appointment books, notebooks, and scrapbooks, (5) Clippings, (6) Photographs, (7) Miscellaneous papers and memorabilia, (8) Emory College financial correspondence and records, and (9) Financial Papers and Correspondence .

Finding Aid Note

An index to selected correspondents and an informal chronological analysis of correspondence are also available.


Gift, 1942, with subsequent additions.


File name: warrencandler2.doc


Processed by Harriet E. Amos, July 1977; Revision by Virginia J. H. Cain, Processing Archivist, March 1989

File name: warrencandler2.doc

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Index of Selected Correspondents

Index to persons with 4 or more letters, 1924-1946.
Ainsworth, William Newman to Warren Candler
Boaz, Hiram Abiff to Warren Candler
Candler, Charles Howard to Warren Candler
Candler, John Slaughter to Warren Candler
Candler, Samuel Charles to Warren Candler
Candler, Samuel Charles from Warren Candler
Cannon, James to Warren Candler
Cannon, James to Collins Denny
Cox, Harvey Warren to Warren Candler
Darlington, Urban Valentine William to Warren Candler
Darlington, Urban Valentine William to W. L. Pierce
Denny, Collins to Warren Candler
Dickey, James Edward to Warren Candler
Dobbs, Hoyt McWhorter to Warren Candler
Lazenby, Marion Elias to Warren Candler
McMurry, William Fletcher to Warren Candler
Meek, Robert Abner to Warren Candler
Moore, John Monroe to Warren Candler
Mouzon Edwin DuBose to Warren Candler
Smith, Alfred Franklin to Warren Candler
Warren A. Candler papers, 1846-1977
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University
February 7, 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • November 24, 2014: Restricted container list in Series 9 redacted in finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library Repository

540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta Georgia 30322 United States