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Records of the Billy Graham Center Records.

Identifier: CN 003

Scope and Contents

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.)

Paper Records (Box List)

Sub-series: I. Historical Materials

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1967-1981

Volume: 2.8 cubic feet Boxes: 1-3

Geographic coverage: United States

Type of documents: Correspondence, memos, reports, minutes

Correspondents: Hudson Taylor Armerding, 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 of the Center as well as its early history. Almost all the material in this collection is from 1981 or earlier and is 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. 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). This 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 collection, and includes the 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 includes 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); 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 BGC, 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 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 Location Records in this guide. A checklist of contents is in folder 1-9; it is 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 location 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 (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, are part of this collection: see Location Records for Video Tapes. A "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/PARA-CHURCH 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

See also publicity material in folder 1-22.

This collection 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 are sessions of this workshop; see Location Records for details and other speakers' names.

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


Sub-series: II. Administrative files

Arrangement: Alphabetical, Chronological

Date Range: 1974-2011

Volume: 15.1 cubic feet

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.

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)".


  • Created: 1919-2011

Conditions Governing Access

The following parts of this collection are restricted:

The files of the BGC Board in Series II are closed for fifty (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 in Series II are closed for fifty years from the date of the youngest document in the file except to those with written permission from the Director of the Billy Graham Center.

All files in Series II less than ten years old (excluding publications) are closed except to persons with written permission from the Director of the Billy Graham Center.

Biographical or Historical Information

Historical Background

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

Headquarters Location: 1974-present: Campus of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. The Center building at 500 E. College Avenue was built 1977-1980. Until this 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 Boulevard in nearby Carol Stream.

Directors of the Billy Graham Center:

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), June1982- 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 - present

Other Significant Officers:

Melvin Lorentzen, Associate Director, 1979-1990

Kenneth Gill, Assistant to the Director, 1995-1996; Acting Director, June1996- August 1998; Associate Director, August 1998-

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 fate 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 crusades. 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 BGC 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 BGC on the campus of Wheaton College, Graham's alma mater. A ground breaking ceremony was held in September 1977. The cornerstone was laid two years later in October 1979, and the completed building was dedicated September 13, 1980, in a two-day celebration which included the formal ceremony, a gospel music concert, and an evangelistic crusade the evening of September 14. The purpose of the BGC was, to quote 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 "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 and Museum

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

A Scholarship Program that enabled Christian workers from around the world to study at the Wheaton College and the Wheaton College Graduate School

Evangelical and Missions Information Service (EMIS) - the publishing arm of the Center. EMIS was started in 1964 as 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.


49.60 Cubic Feet

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

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

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

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

May 28, 1982

Galen R. Wilson

R. Shuster

J. 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

T. 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

J. Wells

Accession 83-93

April 18, 2006

Bob Shuster

K. 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

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