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Small Collection 057 Ephemera of Ira Sankey

Identifier: Small CN 057

Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials by or about Ira David Sankey, including an undated autograph with an inscription, "Hallelujah What a Savior"; a letter dated January 15, 1894, from Sankey to a friend sending a requested autographed letter by Dwight L. Moody; a letter from Sankey to Edward Bok dated April 9, 1887, concerning Sankey's contribution to a volume eulogizing Rev. Henry Ward Beecher--an accompanying essay contains Sankey's impressions and opinions of Beecher; and a portrait carte de viste of Sankey.


  • Created: 1887-1894

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this material.

Biographical or Historical Information

Ira David Sankey was born on August 28, 1840, to David and Mary Sankey. His parents were devout Methodists. The family often sang hymns of the church together and Sankey was able to read music by the age of eight. He was converted at the age of sixteen while attending revival services near his home.

Sankey's father, a banker and later a government employee, was able to assist his son in acquiring a job. Sankey worked for the government until he began full-time evangelistic work with D. L. Moody. He also did volunteer work with the YMCA.

In September 1863 Sankey married Fanny V. Edwards, one of his choir members. The couple had three children, all boys.

Moody persuaded the young singer to join him in Chicago in 1871. The men traveled all over the United States and Great Britain holding increasingly crowded revival meetings. Sankey helped popularize the use of hymns with lyrics written by contemporary composers and musical instruments in church worship services.

Some of Sankey's most beloved hymns were poems he set to music, such as The Ninety and Nine, Trusting Jesus, A Shelter in the Time of Storm, and I Am Praying for You. Other tunes written by the musician include Am I a Soldier of the Cross, Sleep On Beloved, Why Not Tonight?, and I Will Trust Thee.

In his later years, Sankey lost his sight due to glaucoma. He dictated his autobiography, My Life and the Story of Gospel Hymns, from memory in 1906. On August 13, 1908, shortly before his sixty-eighth birthday, Sankey died quietly in his sleep at his home in Brooklyn, New York.


1.00 Folder

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in March 1979 from James Lowe, January 1980 from Mary Moore, May 1980 from Walter R. Benjamin Autographs, and July 1985 from Edith Nowack.

Accession 79-29, 80-10, 80-58, 85-97

June 17, 1980

Mary Ann Buffington

S. Kouns

Revised: February 10, 1987

J. Nasgowitz

Small Collection 057 Ephemera of Ira Sankey
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