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Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Records

Identifier: CN 003

Brief Description

Correspondence, proposals, reports, minutes, programs, publications brochures, budgets, audio tapes, clippings, photographs, and video tapes related to the founding, ground breaking and dedication and continuing work of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College as a research and training center in evangelism, and its ongoing activities. Includes audio and video recordings of Center-sponsored conferences (on themes including evangelism and evangelistic preaching, outreach to various communities, women and evangelism, partnership in mission, prison ministry, leadership training, etc.)


  • Created: 1919-2011


Conditions Governing Access

The following parts of this collection are restricted from use:

  • The files of the BGC Board (Boxes 6-17, 1974-2000) in the Administrative Files series are closed for 50 years from the date of the youngest document in the file, except for current BGC staff and researchers with written permission from the President of Wheaton College.

  • Most of the files of the Institute of China Studies (Boxes 84-86, 1989-1994) in the Administrative Files series are closed for 50 years from the date of the youngest document in the file except to those with written permission from the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center.

  • All files in the Administrative Files series less than 10 years old (excluding publications) are closed except to persons with written permission from the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center.
  • Organization History

    Founded: Fall 1974 (when Dr. Donald E. Hoke started as director and first employee)

    Directors of the Billy Graham Center (title was changed to Executive Director during Allison's tenure):

  • Donald E. Hoke, October 1974-June 1978
  • David Johnston (Acting), June 1978-September 1979 (Johnston was Senior Vice President of the College at the time)
  • William A. Shoemaker, September 1979-May 1982 (formal resignation as director was effective June 1983)
  • David E. Johnston (Acting), June 1982-August 1984 (Johnston was Senior Vice President of the College at the time)
  • James H. Kraakevik, August 1984-June 1996
  • Kenneth Gill (Acting), June 1996-August 1998
  • Lon Allison, August 1998-October 2013
  • Paul Ericksen (Interim), October 2013-July 2016
  • Ed Stetzer, July 2016-June 2023
  • Andy Cook, July 2023-present

    Other Significant Officers:
  • Melvin Lorentzen, Associate Director, 1979-1990
  • Kenneth Gill, Assistant to the Director, 1995-1996; Acting Director, June 1996-August 1998; Associate Director, August 1998

    Headquarters Location: 1974-present: Campus of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. The Center building at 500 E. College Avenue was built 1977-1980. Until the building was opened in September 1980, the BGC administration was housed at 217 N. Washington (the Allan House) and the Archives, Library and Museum staffs worked at a warehouse on Kehoe Blvd. in nearby Carol Stream.

    Ministry Emphasis: “Stimulate global evangelism”

    Other Significant Information:

    The concept of a Billy Graham Center (BGC) had its beginning when several American academic institutions approached Billy Graham, proposing to house his personal papers. Thus, Graham began to consider the future of his papers and the records of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). In 1970, a committee was established to gather historical materials of the BGEA, both those housed in the various BGEA offices and those in private possession of individuals who had worked with and for the Association in its twenty years of crusade ministry. The focus of the BGC developed early on into an institution housing not only an archives, but a library and a museum, with all three divisions emphasizing the history of evangelism, particularly with regard to the Graham ministry. The BGC was also seen as a potential sponsor of teaching and training programs, in which the BGC would act as a catalyst in continued evangelization of the world.

    The money for the Center came from the BGEA's "World Evangelism and Christian Education Fund" (WECEF). Incorporated in 1970 as a separate entity, WECEF money was invested in "a prudent manner until distribution." While WECEF subsidized many worthy projects, including international disaster relief, the invested capital had grown to $23 million by 1977 when it came under attack by the secular press as irresponsibly-managed "secret funds." The BGEA responded with a widely-distributed statement of its financial responsibility to its donors, listing the projects carried on by WECEF, including what was to become the Billy Graham Center.

    Selection of a site was paramount to the project. Several locations were discussed, including Charlotte, North Carolina, near the Graham home. The decision was made in 1974 to place the Center on the campus of Wheaton College, Graham's alma mater, where a groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 1977. The cornerstone was laid two years later in October 1979, and the completed building was dedicated on September 13, 1980, in a two-day celebration which included the formal ceremony, gospel music concert, and an evangelistic crusade the evening of September 14.

    The purpose of the BGC was, quoting a formulation of its mission prepared in the late 1990s, to “stimulate global evangelism.” A mission statement from the same period read: “The Billy Graham Center, a division of Wheaton College (IL), is dedicated to the advancement of world evangelization and works with Christian leaders from around the world to develop strategies and skills for evangelism. With its unique resources and programs, the Center serves the church in evangelism and missions through leadership training, research, networking, strategic planning, and communicating the gospel.”

    The first official governing body of the BGC, the "Joint Committee of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Wheaton College for the Billy Graham Library," had its first meeting in October 1974. This committee was succeeded at a meeting in Dallas, Texas, by the incorporation "Board of Directors of the Billy Graham Center" in September 1975. This Board dissolved itself when the BGC was dedicated in September 1980, at which time the building was made a gift to Wheaton College. The ongoing governing body, the "Graham Center Committee of the Board of Trustees of Wheaton College," first met in December 1980.

    Besides the director and his staff, the BGC has included these departments:

    Resources: Archives, Library, and Museum

    Current and former Institutes:
  • Institute of Evangelism (later the Institute of Strategic Evangelism)
  • Institute of China Studies (founded in 1980 and discontinued in 2001)
  • Institute for the Study of Christianity and Marxism, later the Institute of East-West Christian Studies (started in 1986 and moved to Beeson Seminary in 1999)
  • Institute of Muslim Studies
  • Institute of Prison Ministries
  • Institute of Cross-Cultural Training
  • Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals (started in 1982 and became an independent part of Wheaton College in 1991)

    An endowed Scholarship Program that enabled Christian workers from around the world to study at Wheaton College in the Wheaton College Graduate School

    Evangelical and Missions Information Service (EMIS) was the publishing arm of the Center. Started in 1964, EMIS was initially a joint project of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EFMA) and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association (IFMA). In 1997, it became part of the Center.
  • Extent

    50.5 Linear Feet (93 Boxes (2 RC, 1 ODC, 90 DC), Audio Tapes, Films, Oversize Material, Photographs, Video Tapes)

    Language of Materials


    Arrangement and Description

    Historical Materials

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

    Date range: 1967-1981

    Boxes: 1-3

    Volume: 2.8 linear feet

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Correspondence, memos, reports, minutes

    Correspondents: Hudson Taylor Armerding (Wheaton College president), Joseph Armisano, John Corts, John Dettoni, Lois Ferm, Leighton Ford. Billy Graham, Philip Hammer, Donald Hoke, Timothy L. Smith, Ted W. Ward, Stephanie Wills

    Subjects: Origins and development of the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Christian evangelism, preaching, North American Protestant Evangelicalism

    Notes: This series consists of all the materials in Collection 3 before the collection was rearranged to document the ongoing development and operation of the Center as well as its early history. Almost all the materials in this series are from 1981 or earlier, and are concerned largely with the BGC planning committee, dating ca. 1970 to 1973, records of the three official ceremonies involving construction of the building (ground breaking, cornerstone laying, and dedication), and records of a workshop sponsored by the BGC in 1981.

    A key to commonly used acronyms in the collection is available. Also see a chronology of select BGC events and conferences.

    Exceptional items: Records concerning the planning committee include correspondence, notes, and minutes of a consultation held in Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1972 (Folders 1-2 and 1-3). The consultation's objective was to discuss the BGC's philosophy, form, programs, etc. Several papers and proposals were prepared as a result of this consultation, including proposals for an educational training outreach of the BGC (Folders 1-25, 2-7, and 2-11) and for the BGC Archives (Folder 2-6). The early ideas of what the BGC Museum might entail are documented in Folder 2-10; information gathered from other libraries and archives (especially the Presidential libraries) used to help construct a proposal for the BGC Library and Archives is found in Folders 1-1 (possible choices of sites), 1-5, 1-6, 2-5, 2-12, and 2-14.

    Correspondence from the planning committee is a substantial part of the series, and includes the interaction with following persons: Joseph Armisano, architect Folder 1-11); John Corts, BGEA staff member in charge of coordination of planning for the BGC (Folder 1-12); John Dettoni, research analyst (Folder 1-13); Lois Ferm, BGEA archivist and librarian (Folder 1-14); Leighton Ford (Folders 1-15,16) files include material on Christian designer Peter Wolf, who was interested in designing the BGC Museum; Billy Graham (Folder 1-17); Philip Hammer, economic consultant (Folder 1-18); Timothy L. Smith, pastor of Wollaston (Massachusetts) Church of the Nazarene and participant in Birmingham Consultation; (Folder 1-19); Ted W. Ward, professor, Institute for International Studies, Michigan State University and participant in Birmingham Consultation (Folder 1-20); and Stephanie Wills, Mr. Graham's secretary (Folder 1-21). Folder 2-13 contains a volume entitled "Billy Graham Center Handbook," which was prepared by BGC director Don Hoke just prior to his leaving the BGC staff. In it, Hoke assembled a history of the Center, and of the individual divisions (archives, library, and museum). For each of these, Hoke described the present status of the work and his recommendations for the future. Also discussed were various outreach programs of the BGC, fund-raising, public relations, and budget.

    Records of the ceremonies attendant to the construction of the BGC include newspaper clippings and publicity from the 1977 ground breaking (Folders 1-26, 2-3, OS1), and audio tapes of that event (T1,T2). Folder 1-26 also includes material on the cornerstone laying, and Folders 1-7 through 1-10 contain copies of the contents of the cornerstone. Copies of audio tapes and photographs in the cornerstone have been separated to Audio Tape and Photograph Files (see item records in this guide). A checklist of contents is in Folder 1-9, annotated to reflect what items on the list are not in this collection. There are also some photos and slides of the event, described in the relevant item records below.

    The BGC's dedication in September 1980 is documented by newspaper clippings (Folder 2-2 and OS 1) and material in Folders 1-22 (including the program book) through 1-24. See also Mel Lorentzen’s files on the planning of the event in Boxes 73, 74, and 75. The BGC visitors' register for the month of dedication is in Folder 3-1. Video tapes also add to the record, including V1 through V6 of the dedication ceremony the morning of September 13; the gospel concert with Jeannette Cliff George's portrayal of blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby, and entertainment by musicians Ken Medema, Larnelle Harris, Myrna White, and John Wilson; and a crusade on September 14 featuring BGEA Team members Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, John Innes, and Tedd Smith (see item records for Video Tapes).

    The "Forum on the Church's Future" was held the previous week in conjunction with the dedication. Video tapes V7 through V11 record four of the six sessions in this forum; see also audio tapes T267-T269. The panel topics and panelists were:

    Communications: Walter Brovald, Professor, University of Minnesota; James Engel, Professor, Wheaton College; Roger Palms, Editor, Decision, magazine; Pat Robertson, President, Christian Broadcasting Network

    Church/Parachurch Relationships: Bill Bright, President, Campus Crusade for Christ; James Kennedy, Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jay Kesler, President, Youth for Christ; John Williams, Pastor, St. Stephen Baptist Church, Kansas City, Missouri

    New Models in Evangelism: Arthur deKruyter, Pastor, Christ Church, Oak Brook, Illinois; Leighton Ford, BGEA; Paul Moore, Pastor, Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, New York City, New York; Ruth Siemens, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship

    Perspectives on Evangelicals: Robert Dugan, Director, NAE Office of Public Affairs; George Gallup, Gallup Polls; Ralph Martin, Servant Ministries; David Wells, Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

    Publicity material is found in Folder 1-22.

    The series includes material from the summer 1981 "Preaching for Commitment" workshop, which spanned two weeks, and offered to participants the opportunity to hear lectures on the subject and do research in BGC holdings in the area of preaching. Dr. David Maclagan, pastor of St. John's Church, Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland, was the main speaker at the workshop. Video tapes V12 through V24 recorded the sessions of this workshop; see item records for details and other speakers' names.

    The early history of the Center is well documented in a comprehensive set of newspaper clippings spanning a decade, 1971-1981 (Folders 1-28 through 2-1, and 2-4).

    Administrative files

    Arrangement: Alphabetical, Chronological

    Date range: 1974-2011

    Volume: 15.1 linear

    Boxes: 4-93

    Geographic coverage:: United States, China, central Europe and Russia

    Type of documents: Minutes, reports, correspondence, brochures, curriculum, departmental self- studies, budgets

    Correspondents: Hudson Taylor Armerding, John Corts, Sterling Huston, David E. Johnston, Center directors William Shoemaker, Jim Kraakevik, Lon Allison, and other administrators and staff.

    Notes: This series is intended to receive on a continuing basis a basic minimum of materials that document the ongoing work of the BGC.

    A key to commonly used acronyms in the collection is available. Also see a chronology of select BGC events and conferences.

    Special mention is made in the Box List of any files for particular conferences sponsored by a BGC department. Special mention is also made of files relating to Scholars-in-Residence or Visiting Scholars who were doing sponsored research at the Center. If the Archives does not currently have any files for a particular category, that category is marked "(empty)".

    Following are the subseries of this series, with brief notes on contents where necessary. The Chronological Files (Boxes 22-43) contain the first six years of the correspondence of the executive director of the Center in chronological order (with some board minutes) and is an invaluable source for early Center plans and activities:

  • Advisory Committee. A group with changing membership that met once a year to report on selected evangelistic programs and make suggestions about the work of the Center.

    Archives. (Also see the Select List of Temporary Exhibits of the Billy Graham Center Archives)

    BGC - Board. Includes the minutes and other documents relating to the governing board of the Center, which varied over the years from a board of trustees, to a joint committee of Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assocation, to a committee of the College board.

    BGC - Brochures.

    BGC - Brown Bag Seminars. Documents relating to the lunch-time seminars on topics related to evangelism sponsored by the Center, open to the public and held at irregular intervals.

    BGC - Budgets.

    BGC - Calendars. These were Center-wide calendars of events as well as calendars published by the Center.

    BGC - Clippings.

    BGC - Director.
  • Donald Hoke. Also contain several folders of the planning of the BGEA staff on the Center in the early 1970s.
  • William Shoemaker.
  • David Johnston. Johnston served as interim director after both Hoke and after Shoemaker.
  • James Kraakevik.
  • Lon Allison.

    BGC - Associate Director.
  • John Robinson. Files concerned mainly with early ideas for the Institute of Evangelism and the Intensive Training Programs.
  • Mel Lorentzen. Files subdivided according to Administrative, Advancement, Conferences, and Scholarship, reflecting his responsibilities in these areas and his role in coordinating major events like the Center’s dedication in 1980.
  • Ken Gill.

    BGC - Liaison Committee. Center administrators and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association representatives.

    BGC - Monographs.

    BGC - Newsletters. Newsletters of the Center as a whole; newsletters of individual departments are stored with that department’s records.

    BGC - Reports - Annual.

    BGC - Reports - Quarterly/Six-month.

    BGC - Senior Staff. Minutes of senior staff meetings involving the director of the Center and department heads.

    BGC - Speaking Engagements. Brief reports on speaking engagements of Center staff.

    BGC - Staff. Lists of all persons employed by the Center.

    BGC - Websites. Printouts of the first page of the websites of the Center and its departments.

    Conferences. Records of conferences sponsored by the Center as opposed to one of the Center departments. Records of conferences sponsored by a department are stored with that department. The files of the conferences are in chronological order by date of the conference.


  • China Studies.
  • Christianity and Marxism.
  • Evangelism.
  • Cross-Cultural Training.
  • Muslim Studies.
  • Prison Ministries.


    Museum. (Also see the Select List of Temporary Exhibits of the Billy Graham Center Museum)

    Publications and publicity. Productions and promotional pieces for broad representation of the Center (including collections of the Center and a booklet used at the time of the fund-raising campaign that was planned in 1982).

    Scholar-in-Residence. Includes files about the Missionary Scholars-in-Residence and other scholars who were sponsored by the Center to study at the BGC for varying lengths of time with an eye to producing publications that would benefit the church.


    Telephone Counseling. Files relating to the training and ministry of telephone counselors who operated out of the Center after every televised Billy Graham Evangelistic Association evangelistic event.
  • Provenance

    The materials in this collection were: 1) in part deposited in the Billy Graham Center Archives by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in June 1975; 2) in part given by private individuals between October 1979 and December 1981; and 3) by the Center administration and departments in annual additions from 1983 onward.

    In June 2019, the Billy Graham Evangelisitic Association permanently removed several of the files from the Historical Materials series in the collection: Box 1, Folders 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, and Box 2, Folders 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

    Accessions 75-3, 79-119, 81-16, 81-19, 81-78, 81-86, 81-128, 81-152

  • May 28, 1982
  • Galen R. Wilson
  • Robert Shuster
  • Janyce Nasgowitz

    Accessions: 02-07, 02-10, 02-14, 02-16, 02-18, 02-19, 02-20, 02-28, 02-38, 02-49
  • August 16, 2002
  • Robert Shuster
  • Ruth Estell

    Accessions: 83-117, 84-99, 84-111, 84-157, 85-18, 85-70, 85-105, 88-49, 91-11, 03-15, 03-22, 03-25, 03-64
  • January 9, 2004
  • Paul A. Ericksen
  • Todd Thompson

    Accession: 04-04
  • January 27, 2004
  • Bob Shuster

    Accessions: 83-15, 83-18, 84-28, 88-17, 97-77, 04-30, 04-35
  • July 13, 2004
  • Bob Shuster

    Accession: 04-50
  • September 27, 2004
  • Bob Shuster

    Accession: 04-57
  • October 8, 2004
  • Bob Shuster

    Accessions: 85-57, 85-137, 86-93, 87-87, 87-88, 87-93, 88-11, 88-98, 05-37, 05-47
  • November 14, 2005
  • Paul A. Ericksen
  • Jeremy Wells

    Accession: 83-93
  • April 18, 2006
  • Bob Shuster
  • Kirk Hayward

    Accessions: 84-160, 85-70, 90-90
  • January 23, 2008
  • Bob Shuster

    Accession: 96-13
  • Janaury 20, 2011
  • Bob Shuster

    Accession: 11-54
  • September 28, 2011
  • Paul Ericksen

    Accession: 14-17
  • May 8, 2014
  • Paul Ericksen

    Accession: 16-18
  • November 11, 2016
  • Paul Ericksen

    Accession: 16-47
  • January 14, 2017
  • Paul Ericksen

    Accession: 22-36
  • August 8, 2022
  • Bob Shuster
  • Creator

    Billy Graham Center Records (Collection 003)
    Bob Shuster
    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