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Collection 601 Ephemera of Milan B. Williams

Identifier: CN 601

Scope and Contents

Clippings, correspondence, miscellaneous documents, and photographs which document the life and ministry of Milan B. Williams. The materials cover his life as a state legislator in Kansas and his evangelistic work.


  • Created: 1874-1941
  • Majority of material found in 1892-1941

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: Milan Bertrand Williams

Birth: October 30, 1860, Camden, New York

Death: 1941, St. Petersburg, Pinellas Co, Florida


Parents: William Bradford Williams & Mary Hancock Bagley

Siblings: Anson (11 years older), Arthur (9 years younger)

Marital Status: Married Jennie Rose, 1880, she died February 1897

Married: Juliette Mead, February 1, 1905, York, Nebraska

Children: with Jennie: Faith (born ca. 1883), Carolyn (born ca. 1885), Grace; with Juliette: William (born ca.1907)

Conversion: During his childhood


1884 - General Secretary, YMCA, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

1887-1892 - State Secretary, YMCA, Atlanta, Georgia

1894-1902 - Held evangelistic meetings with song leader Charles M. Alexander

Early 1896 - William “Billy” A. Sunday joins the Williams-Alexander team

Spring 1902 - Spent a few months traveling in the Holy Land

1911 - Kansas State Representative for the 109th District

1917 - President of the Interdenominational Association of Evangelists

1930s - Director and curator of St. Petersburg Historical Society Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

Other significant information:

1893 - Wrote lyrics to the hymn My Mother’s Bible

1890s - Some of the books he authored: Where Satan Sows His Seed: Plain Talks on the Amusements of Modern Society, Among Many Witnesses: a Book for Bible Students, Consecration

1921 - Much of the biographical information on Williams is from Chapter 5 Ardent Evangelism with M. B. Williams in the book Charles M. Alexander: A Romance of Song and Soul-Winning


0.35 Cubic Feet (1 Box (DC), Oversize Materials, Photographs)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

Series: Oversize Materials

The following items are in the OVERSIZE FILE. Request by collection number and folder location (in parentheses).

CLIPPINGS AND DOCUMENTS (OS 40). Newspaper clippings about the Winona Assembly and Bible conference in Indiana, an interesting article entitled, “Chicago Leader of Evangelist Fails Crities, The Rev. M.B. Williams Scores Pastors at Winona Lake Bible Conference,” and an article about Williams and the St. Petersburg Museum in Florida. Documents include Williams’ Certificate of Nomination for the post of Representative 109th District in the Democrat primary, Certificate of Election from the Kansas, Logan County clerk and Certificate of Election from the Kansas Secretary of State for the above post, 1910, and an Italian passport.


Series: Photographs The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

WILLIAMS, MILAN BERTRAND. A photo of a man and woman, possibly Williams and his wife, an image of a large group of people standing in front of a wooden tabernacle with a sign “Williams Evangelistic Meetings. Services 3:00 and 7:30pm, Seats Free” and a photo of a group of women seated outdoors on benches facing a platform which is sheltered by a canopy, the back of photo is labeled Women’s Meeting Des Moines, Iowa, July 1901. 3 b&w, 1910, undated

WINONA LAKE, INDIANA. Picture postcards of Winona Lake, Indiana. Two with the captions A Busy Day, Winona Lake, Ind. (people and horses and buggies in front of the auditorium) and Auditorium Entrance, Winona Lake, Ind. (people standing in front of the auditorium). 2 b&w, 1 colorized, undated


Series: Paper Records (Box List)

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1874, 1892-1941, undated

Volume: 0.4 cubic feet, 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Clippings, correspondence, miscellaneous documents

Correspondents: Charles M. Alexander, A. B. Riker, Homer Rodeheaver, Billy Sunday, Helen Sunday, Charlie D. Tillman, Melvin “Mel” Trotter, E. Y. Woolley

Subjects: Evangelism, Winona Assembly and Bible Conference

Exceptional Items: Several clippings in folder 1-1 are about the sale and reorganization of the Winona Assembly and Bible conference in Indiana and the election of W.J. (William Jennings) Bryant as president, a clipping entitled “Evangelist Given $3,000" about Williams meetings in Norwalk, Ohio where there were 400 conversions, advertisements for Williams’ book Among Many Witnesses, articles about Williams and the St. Petersburg Museum in Florida where he was a director and curator, and a clipping from Our Church Paper with a short article about the death of Fanny Crosby.

The bulk of the collection in folder 1-2 consists of correspondence written to Williams with except of a bound booklet containing carbon copies of messages he sent via telegraph which deal mostly with bills pending in the Kansas House of Representatives. There are also about a dozen letters written to Williams from constituents urging passage of various bills.

Williams’ song leader Charles Alexander wrote on February 4, 1902 about meetings he participated in in several cities in Iowa and in a letter dated December 19, 1904 he tells about meetings in Birmingham, England, and mentions that he and his wife Helen were sending a wedding gift, a Scotch traveling rug, for Williams and his future wife. Alexander in a telegram dated January 29, 1908 states that he was sailing for England.

A picture postcard showing the interior of a wooden tabernacle with a sign, “Get Right With God” contains the message “Interior of Tabernacle as I promised., Your friend, E.O. Hoffman,” two letters from Charlie D. Tillman, music publisher from Atlanta, Georgia, written in 1895 are about songbooks used by Williams and a letter dated January 15, 1914 from E. Y. Woolley, pastor of The Moody Church, mentions that “The Lord used you while here and blest us and we praise God for it all.”

Typed letter (December 15, 1904) from Billy Sunday in Redwood Falls, Minnesota in which he tells about his busy schedule, method of keeping the tabernacle warm, and his uncertainty of attending William’s wedding. In a letter from Helen Sunday (October 26, 1926) she mentions the financial situation at Winona and asked if he would give funds toward paying the back salary a Christian worker. A note (December 6, 1907) from A.B. Riker, president of Mt. Union College, Alliance, Ohio, about meetings Williams held there on the topic of Character Building. Attached to this note is an interesting clipping referring to meetings Williams held at Buena Vista College, Storm Lake, Iowa, resulting in the conversion of almost the entire student body of about 400.

Mel Trotter of the City Rescue Mission in Grand Rapids, Michigan mentions in his letter of October 28, 1939 “We have a big tabernacle here, with all the churches in the meeting, and it’s a little like the old days that you knew so much about; but nobody could ever “tabernacle” like you did.”

In a letter (October 9, 1939) from Homer Rodeheaver he makes reference to the hymn My Mother’s Bible which Williams wrote. Rodeheaver reminisces about Williams in a letter (February 10, 1940) “Just a bit of a free will offering in memory of the old days when you taught all the later Evangelists how to do it...And what a joy it must be for you to glance back over memory’s pages and realize how God has so marvelously used you and your ministry in the upbuilding of His kingdom. You were the “daddy” of all those boys who later came along and conducted meetings in a specially constructed tabernacle. Had it not been for your pioneering in this field, perhaps the great meetings of Billy Sunday and other might never have been held.”

Folder 1-3 contains documents related to the time Williams was a Kansas State Legislature and includes copies of two bills Williams introduced into the legislature (House Bill No. 8, to regulate the liability of the telegraph companies regarding transmission and delivery of messages and House Bill 33, to provide for health certificates accompanying applications for marriage licenses, with penalties attached), and brief information about seven Kansas Senate bills.

Over two dozen miscellaneous materials are located in folder 1-4 including a brochure entitled “Works by M.B. Williams” published by Fleming H. Revell Co. containing information about ten books Williams wrote, minutes of the board of directors and executive committee and proposed By-Laws and Rules and Regulations of the Winona Assembly and Bible Conference, 1915-1916, records of three marriages performed by Williams (Elza Bull and Bessie Stevens, Sept. 10, 1905, McAllaster, Logan Co., Kansas; Edward G. Olive and Hilma Carolina Netzall, July 25, 1906, Gill, Logan Co., Kansas; and Wilbur Morton Bennett and Elsie Evelyn Hobbs, July 10, 1907, Winona, Logan Co., Kansas), receipts for money loaned to several individuals, pledge card for Winona Lake Christian Assembly, Inc., hunting and fishing licenses, membership card for the League of American Sportsman, photo card of Rev. Francis K. (Daddy) Ward, founder of Sunshine Mission, acknowledgment card from the William A. Sunday family on the death of Billy Sunday, mortgage between Arthur B. and his wife Jennie Williams and A. Eugene Williams, 1894, and a proposal for the installation of a push button control passenger elevator at 21 - 27 Bellevue Place, Chicago where Williams lived.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Bobbie Armstrong in June 1983.

Accession 83-74.

December 9, 2009

Wayne D. Weber

Collection 601 Ephemera of Milan B. Williams
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US