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Collection 247 Oral History Interview with Louis E. Knowlton

Identifier: CN 247

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews with Louis E. Knowlton in which he discusses his career in evangelistic work and radio technology in Brazil for the Brazilian Evangelistic Association, Inc. Topics discussed include Knowlton's early life, education, service as an Army chaplain's assistant, decision to go into technological ministry, work at WMBI and in Brazil, efforts as a street evangelist and beginnings of music studio, Brazilian churches, church-state relations, ethnic groups and cults, the use of radio for evangelism at Houghton College; WMBI of Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL; street meetings for the Brazilian Baptist Church; radio station PRA 7 of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Christian films; church-state relations; Brazilian television; missions finance and administration. The time period covered by the interviews is approximately 1940-1982.

Louis E. Knowlton was interviewed by Robert Shuster on March 16, 23, and 30, 1983 at the offices of the Billy Graham Center.


  • Created: 1982

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on this collection.

Biographical Information

Louis E. Knowlton was born in Holland, Michigan, November 9, 1932. The Knowlton family included three boys and a girl, and was supported by their father's work on a fruit farm and their mother's teaching. The Knowltons were members of the Wesleyan Methodist church. Financial considerations prompted a move to the college town of Houghton, New York, where the family relocated in 1944 when Mrs. Knowlton accepted a teaching position there near a farm which the Knowltons rented. Mr. Knowlton worked as a maintenance person for Houghton College, and Louis Knowlton attended Houghton Academy.

During high school years, Louis became involved with radio work as an extra-curricular activity, an interest which eventually became his career focus within the mission field. Knowlton graduated from Houghton Academy in 1950 and entered Houghton College with a New York State scholarship. In 1952 an all-night prayer service resulted in his rededication to the Christian faith. This decision influenced other family members. His father became a role model for Louis by taking short term mission assignments, using his carpentry skills on the mission field. In 1953, Louis made the decision to become a missionary himself after working with a student who had been to Haiti.

Knowlton met his future wife, Mary F. Miller, while studying at Houghton, and they were married during his period of service as a Chaplain's assistant in the Army. After discharge, he enrolled in an electronics training program sponsored by Radio Corporation of America. In 1959 Knowlton accepted a job in Chicago where he worked at WMBI, the radio station affiliated with Moody Bible Institute. There he spent two years as an engineer and three as a producer. His purpose was to gain expertize to use on the mission field.

Representatives from World Gospel Crusades, which had purchased a radio station in Brazil, visited Moody in 1964 and Knowlton accepted a position as one of the staff members. At this time, the Knowltons had one son, and were prepared to begin the process of transferring to Brazil. Management changes in WGC resulted in that organization's decision to buy the Brazilian station. The Knowltons were released from their commitment and Knowlton remained at WMBI. Soon other arrangements were made to purchase the station (PRA 7), and the Knowltons prepared to leave the U.S. to work with a Brazilian pastor, Walter Kisall, who was involved in radio. The U.S.-based organization set up to support the station became over-extended and went into bankruptcy soon after its inception. The Knowltons were already relocated in Brazil, had raised their support, and were in language school. For the next three years, the Knowltons lived with diminished financial resources, though they continued to stay in Sao Paolo. Walter Kisall, who was in the U.S. at the time of the bankruptcy, returned to Brazil and with his American son-in-law, Jack Moore, and Knowlton began an evangelistic team working for the Brazilian Baptist Church, Kisall's denomination. The need to provide a U.S.-based organization resulted in the formation of the Brazilian Evangelistic Association, incorporated in Ohio, which consisted of those individuals and groups who were sponsoring the Knowltons and Jack Moore.

Knowlton continued to work with technology in the sound truck of the evangelistic team and designed it to function with a smaller staff, freeing him to begin a small recording studio in Sao Paulo. The studio began a ministry in 1968, building to a sixteen-track music studio in 1983. At that time the Knowltons were living in Wheaton, Illinois, while Knowlton studied for a master's degree at Wheaton College. The Knowltons were planning to return to Brazil.


5.00 Audio Tapes

335 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Louis E. Knowlton on March 16, March 23 and March 30, 1983.

Accession 83-23, 83-32, 83-35

April 3, 1985

Frances L. Brocker

J. Nasgowitz

Collection 247 Oral History Interview with Louis E. Knowlton
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US