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Collection 666 Papers of Arvilla E. Garner

Identifier: CN 666

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, prayer letters, sermon transcripts, and photographs relating to the career of Arvilla E. Garner, personal secretary to H. A. Ironside. Correspondence and photographs in this collection is from Helen Mae Doderlein, a friend of Garner and a missionary with the Christian & Missionary Alliance. Also includes transcripts of sermons by Ironside, preached at The Moody Church of Chicago.


  • Created: 1922-1940, undated

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Arvilla Evangeline (Kirchhofer) Garner

Birth: July 16, 1903, Chicago, Illinois

Death: May 1974


Parents: Joel Georg and Bertha (Hoerner) Kirchhofer

Siblings: None

Marital Status: Married Harold E. Garner, May 1, 1939, Chicago, Illinois, by Rev. Harry A. Ironside

Conversion: As a young child


1929 - Graduated from Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois


circa 1920s - Member of Moody Church

1934 - Leader of the Young Ladies' Octet at Moody Church

1930s-1940s - Secretary to Rev. Harry A. Ironside, pastor of Moody Church

1948-circa 1970 - Special instructor in Christian education at Moody Bible Institute

Other significant information:

1966 - Moody Bible Institute Alumni of the year along with her husband


0.42 Cubic Feet (1 Box (DC), Photographs)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

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

Series: Photographs

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

DODERLEIN, HELEN MAE. Three photos of Doderlein. A portrait photo taken in Chicago, an outdoor oval photo, and a full-length photo of her standing against the rail of a ship with the ocean in the background and labeled on the back, “When “Home” Mar. 24, 1926.” The last two photos were included with a letter dated 7-1-14 (1924?) in folder 1-8. Ca. 1921-1926.


Series: Paper Records (Box List)

Sub-series: I. Correspondence of Helen Mae Doderlein

Arrangement: Chronologically

Date Range: 1922-1926, undated

Volume: 0.2 cubic feet, 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: India

Type of Documents: Correspondence, prayer letters,

Correspondents: Arvilla Kirchhofer.

Notes: Helen Mae Doderlein born ca. 1898 of Norwegian parents and died May 24, 1926 was a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance at a boys and girls boarding school in Akola, India. She joined the Moody Church in Chicago in 1917 and became a friend of Arvilla Kirchhofer. Mae arrived in India in 1921 and was there until her death. Her letters to Arvilla were addressed to Miss Billie Kirchhofer, 1617 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, Illinois, and are usually signed “Maisie.” The letters were written from Khamgaon, Akola, Berar, or Chalisgaon, India.

Exceptional items: In her first letter dated May 30, 1922 she tells of struggling with wanting to enjoy life back home instead of being a sedate missionary on the field. She wanted To be young again and not having to think of a thing serious for one whole evening but have a good time.

On June 6, 1923 Mae wrote that she was pleased to hear that God was speaking to Arvilla and that God formed our friendship and I believe He is making it grow more and more precious and bringing us closer to Him too than ever.

In her letter of July 15, 1923 she describes in detail her daily schedule which begins at 4:00am with prayer and ends by 11:00pm. She also talks about being a single missionary. I wouldn’t want to stay a single missionary for the life out here at best is a lonely lonely life. There is no use to say it isn’t for tho I love the work and the missionaries and am happy in God’s will still out here as never before. I do I crave companionship some on with whom I can share things and ideas with. In one very long paragraph she tells about the conflict the Alliances new vision to drop the current work in India and move out into new territories has brought about. She talks about the Pentecostal experience of a number of the Alliance people and her spiritual life in the November 9, 1923 letter.

Mae gives Arvilla advise about dating boys in her January 18, 1924 letter by writing, I don’t know what to make of Paul Nelson. I’m sure he must like you Billie and even must have some hopes of winning you because he wouldn’t hang around or even bother to take you home from places if he didn’t. Mae mentions in her March 2, 1924 letter that ...the mission folks are always figuring on what I am going to do in the future regards to romance. I have been able to keep them guessing anyway.

Attached to her December 10, 1924 letter is a printed prayer letter of Harriet Beardslee of the Alliance Mission Boys’ Boarding School, Akola, Berar, India. In the last sentence she states that Miss Doderlein, the boys and I all send you greetings in His Name.

She tells of her work in India and desire to desire to serve God in her August 19, 1925 letter in which she says, I take a Christian woman and go out to villages alone and oh how I love it all. You know how bound and how fearful I felt before, but oh God has done this great thing, that I feel free as a bird, and before I should have been scared of my life to have gone out among the people alone or to attempt to preach to them alone. But now I simply revel in it, and know no greater joy than to preach the gospel to these brown folk....I want to be only a flame for Him. I long darling pal of mine that God should do the same thing for you that He has been doing for me and that He should make you a flame among those young folks that thru you hearts might become hungry for God. I do praise Him that He is so dear to you and that I can talk to you so freely about Him.

She gives advise to Arvilla in the November 12, 1925 letter. Honey, girl I wish you would not take life so strenuously. I know I can’t have room to say much but it is a little different with me because God has given me a good healthy constitution, but for you to go at the rate you do in the office and then every night as you do, I am afraid you will be having a breakdown sooner or later.

The letter of January 14, 1925 still finds her praising the Lord. Praise, praise, praise my precious Jesus. Oh, Billie Darling, He is so very wonderful. How can this poor heart of mine fully praise Him for all His gracious love to me and all the wonderful, wonderful way He has led me. I only wish there were time to tell you all.

In her last letter of March 3, 1926 she mentions that I love that verse you quoted. Let’s claim it together Darling. “All things whatsoever ye ask in prayer believing ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22.

Her letter of December 11, 1925 contained two envelopes with letters in each, one for Miss Charlotte Sorenson, 3257 Crystal St., Chicago, Ill. dated December 10, 1925 and another for Miss Clara Leidholm, 4201 Addison St., Chicago, Ill. dated Dec. 12, 1925. These letters apparently were intended to be forwarded to these ladies.

Folder 1-8 contains a letter dates 7/1/1914 (1924?) from Sara of Khamgoom, India containing two photos (see Photo Location Record) of Mae, one inscribed on back, Went “Home” Mar. 24, 1926; two unsigned typewritten letters (March 30 and April 6, 1926) describing the death of Mae and a four page handwritten, undated, and unsigned eulogy for Mae Doderlein. This was most likely written by Arvilla.

Mae Doderlein has laid down her life for India and for Christ. That is all we know of her passing. That is sufficient. Her name is written on the roll of the immortals. For love of Christ she gave herself. Her gift will live forever. Any gift made for Jesus’ sake has in it the seed of immortality.

The C.C. Club [Christian Companionship Club of Moody Church] has not received a communication from Mae. She did not leave a will, and yet the C.C. Club finds itself possessed of a very precious legacy. Mae Doderlein has left us - The Example of a life given unreservedly to God. The example of a life lived wholly for others. The memory of a character that had upon it the marks of the molding fingers of God.

If the world ever held any attraction for her, she turned her back upon them, that she might invest her life in one of earths’ neediest fields.

There is only one way in which we can adequately perpetuate her memory and that is by following Christ even as she followed Him.

Mae has gone. We shall not see her again until we see her in the light of the morning that follows the fleeing away of the shadows, but we shall see her then, when we stand with her in the presence of the King.

The following materials with information on Doderlein and Kirchhofer were gathered by the archivist and placed in Folder 1-8: an article with photo of Miss Mae Doderlein reporting on her death, from the April 1926 issue of The Moody Church News. Materials about Arvilla Kirchhofer Garner: The Young Ladies’ Octet, The Moody Church News, November 1934; Local Girl Makes Good in Children’s work, Moody Student, (Moody Bible Institute) April 2, 1954; 1966 Alumni of the Year - Harold ‘27 & Arvilla (Kirchofer ‘29); biographical information on Mrs. Harold Garner, News from Moody Bible Institute, undated.


Sub-series: Transcripts of sermons (mainly by Rev. Harry A. Ironside)

Arrangement: Alphabetically or chronologically

Date Range: 1930-1940, undated

Volume: 0.2 cubic feet, 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Sermon transcripts

Notes: Seventy-nine typewritten transcripts of Rev. Harry A. Ironside’s sermons are filed in Folders 1-5 through 1-7 and are arranged chronologically or by sermon title. There is a series of sermons on Psalms, I & II Corinthians, and Galatians which also have sequential numbers in the corner . If there was no date on the transcript, the archivist placed it in Bible text order within the series. Undated transcripts in Folder 1-7 are in alphabetical order. All of the transcripts were prepared by Ironside’s secretary Arvilla (Kirchofer) Garner.

Exceptional items: There are messages by Dr. M.R. DeHaan, Rev. W.B. Riley, and A.H. Steward in Folder 1-5 and by H.H. Savage and Roy L. Brown in Folder 1-7.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives from Charles Nichols in August 2011.

Accession 11-48

December 13, 2011

Wayne D. Weber

Collection 666 Papers of Arvilla E. Garner
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