The combined collections of Charles Nutter (1842-1928) and Frank Metcalf (1865-1945) total more than 2500 volumes and form the core of the hymnological resources in the STH Library. Nutter graduated from STH in 1871, the year in which the Boston Theological School merged with Boston University. When not serving as a Methodist minister, Nutter collected hymnals and wrote both hymns and authoritative books on hymnology. (In 1913, he also taught hymnology at BU.) The other donor, Frank Metcalf, an 1886 BU alumnus, worked in the U.S. War Office and, like Nutter, collected hymnals and wrote on hymnology. Almost half of their combined collections dates from before the end of the Civil War and includes such treasures as a copy of the 1612 Ainsworth Psalter, the musical version of the Psalms that the Pilgrims brought with them on the Mayflower, as well as several 16th-century Genevan psalters. In addition to its obvious support for studies in sacred music, this collection assists studies in practical theology, in English and American language and literature, in sociology (especially through comments in prefatory material and through illustrations), and in the history of American book production. In the late 1990’s a Lilly Foundation grant supported full-level descriptive cataloging of most of this collection, including all of the pre-1800 materials.
Some idea of the significance of the Nutter-Metcalf Collection in larger hymnological circles can be gained from the fact that in 2004 the commercial publisher IDC reproduced on microfiche 561 titles dating between 1566 and 1890, which they are marketing to other libraries,
This collection of autograph letters and some hymn texts was compiled by Charles S. Nutter as a result of his correspondence with prominent hymnists during his lifetime. It includes contributions by Fanny Crosby, Phillips Brooks, John Greenleaf Whittier, Julia Ward Howe, Robert Lowry, Samuel Francis Smith, and other significant writers.