Skip to main content

Collection 683 Papers of Rolland and Thelma Smith

Identifier: CN 683

Scope and Contents

Newsletters, prayer letters, fund-raising and promotional material, donor correspondence, pamphlets, blueprints, maps, personal correspondence, programs, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, radio program scripts, and photographs relating to the Rolland and Thelma Smith’s missionary work among the Cree First Nations in Alberta, Canada (1945-1960). The collection also contains camp meeting itineraries, newspaper clippings, financial reports, brochures and directories relating to Sebring Interdenominational Camp in Ohio and the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association and Kentucky Mountain Bible College, and evangelists Billy Sunday and Karl F. Wittman.


  • Created: 1942-2000

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Rolland Carl Smith

Birth: November 7, 1917 in Beloit, OH

Death: November 17, 2008


Unknown - Kentucky Mountain Bible College

1945 - Cleveland Bible College, graduated with a Th.B.

1946 - Summer Institute of Linguistics at Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada

Full Name: Thelma C. (Myers) Smith

Birth: March 19, 1920

Death: December 8, 2001

Education: Canadian Summer Institute of Linguistics at Caronport, Saskatchewan 1946.

1944 - Cleveland Bible College, graduated with a Th.B

1946 - Summer Institute of Linguistics at Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada.


Joint Biography of Rolland and Thelma Smith

Marital Status: June 7, 1942 at First Friends Church, Alliance OH.

Children: Thomas (b. 1946), Daniel (b. 1948), Samuel (b. 1956)


1945 - Smiths relocated to Innisfail where Rolland served as pastor of the Innisfail and Aberdeen Churches of the Nazarene in Alberta, Canada.

1946 - Rolland Smith resigned from pastorate at Innisfail and Aberdeen. The Smiths moved to Moberly Lake, BC to establish Indian Mission there. Both Rolland and Thelma attended Canadian Summer Institute of Linguistics to study the Cree language.

1948 - Moved to Peace River, Alberta to begin mission work among the Cree Indians.

1951 - Northland Indian Mission incorporated Alberta's Societies Act.

1953 - Lubicon Mission School opens in September, but is closed in December after Thelma Smith suffers collapse and staff resigned from school.

1956 - Rolland featured on Circuit Rider Radio Broadcasts. Thelma hospitalized in Edmonton.

1957 - Smiths relocate to Sebring, Ohio for health reasons with the intention of returning to the mission after recovery. During this time Rolland Smith continued to act as President of Northland Indian Mission. However, due to continuing illness the Smiths remained in Ohio, through initially Rolland continues as President of Northland Indian Mission.

1958 - Rolland Smith becomes pastor of Westville Congregational Christian Church near Beloit, Ohio.

1959 - Smiths make two week visit to Northland Indian Mission to collect their remaining belongs. Rolland Smith resigns as president of the Mission

Other Significant Information:

Rolland Smith dates his interest in being a missionary to studying geography and northern Indian tribes at the age of nine in 1926.


2.00 Boxes (DC)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[NOTE: In the Arrangement description, the notation "Folder 1-1" means Box 1, Folder 1.]

Arrangement: Material is arranged alphabetically by topic. Arrangement is provided by Archives staff.

Date Range: 1942-2000

Volume: .9 cubic feet, 2 Boxes

Geographic Coverage: Alberta, Canada; Sebring, Ohio, Kentucky.

Type of Documents: Newsletters, prayer letters, promotional pamphlets, correspondence, newspaper clippings, financial records, brochures, posters, donation cards, school blueprints, maps, sheet music, coloring pages, radio scripts, photographs.

Notes: The bulk of the material in this collection is concerned with the Smith's missionary work among the Cree Indians in Alberta, Canada from 1942 to 1957. While the Smiths returned from to Ohio from Alberta in 1957, Rolland Smith continued to act as President of Northland Indian Mission for the next two years and collected material relating to the mission through 1960. Details about the Smiths life and ministry after 1960 are taken from the chronology found in the Smith's 25th, 30th, and 35th wedding anniversary programs (2-7).

The bulk of the material in this collection is concerned with the Smith's missionary work among the Cree Indians in Alberta, Canada from 1942-1960. Their missionary efforts resulted in the Northland Indian Mission, where they built and staffed a school for Cree children. Fund-raising correspondence (1-11 to 1-12) written by Rolland Smith describes the plans for the school, descriptions of life among the Cree people, and the practical needs of the Smith family. Northland Indian Mission newsletters (2-1 to 2-4) , entitled The North Star, detail the progress of the ministry, particularly the primary school for Cree children, and descriptions of life in Northern Alberta. Promotional articles (1-9), sent out with donor correspondence or newsletters, describe the unique challenges of evangelism among the Cree Indians, Cree rituals, lifestyle, medical care among the Indians, the oil industry in Alberta, testimonials from school staff, among others. The collection also contains typewritten and annotated scripts (1-14) for CYKL's radio program Morning Meditations, which featured devotions given by Rolland Smith from November 1955 to July 1956.

The Smiths also collected material about Karl F. Wittman, a self-described "sawdust evangelist" and family friend of the Smith. Mainly consisting of sermons and newsletters, this ephemera describes the Wittmans' ministry and showcases many photographs of their revival meetings. The collection also contains material relating to evangelist Billy Sunday (1-1) at whose 1911 tabernacle meeting in Toledo, OH Karl Wittman was converted. In these documents, Wittman describes how his conversion under Billy Sunday and later association with Paul Rader inspired his ministry as a revival evangelist (1-2).

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Rolland C. Smith in 1986, 1988, 1992, 1995, and August and September 1998.

Accession 86-115, 88-62, 92-94, 95-120, 98-61, 98-65.

February 2015

Katherine J. Graber

Collection 683 Papers of Rolland and Thelma Smith
Katherine Graber
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