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Collection 279 Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Evans

Identifier: CN 279

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews with Elizabeth Morrell Evans (1899-1976) in which she discusses her childhood; education at Wheaton College; work with J. Elwin Wright; her Christian education activities; the development of the New England Fellowship, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the World Evangelical Fellowship; and her work as a missionary in Taiwan. The time period covered by the interviews is 1899-1976.

Elizabeth Evans was interviewed by Robert Shuster on October 8, 1984 and August 26 and 27, 1985 at the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College.


  • Created: 1984-1985

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Elizabeth was born March 18, 1899, in Lynchburg, Virginia, where her parents, Joseph Davis Evans and Elizabeth Hicks Morrell Evans, were involved in evangelistic and city mission work. She was the fourth of nine children. Her brothers and sisters were Joseph Davis, Lydia Moore (later Mrs. Herbert A. Jackson), Henry Clinton Morrell, Anna Jones (later Anna Atkinson), twins William Bright and Grace Morrell (later Grace Wallace), Kathryn Mathilda, and Eloise. In 1912 the family, after having lived in many different towns, settled in Nyack, New York. Elizabeth attended high school there and then the Missionary Institute (also in Nyack) from 1917 to 1919. She then went to Wheaton College in Illinois, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1922.

After graduation, Elizabeth taught for a year in an elementary school in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. She then heard of an urgent need for a teacher at the Bethesda children's home in West Rumney, New Hampshire, for which she applied and was accepted in 1923. The home had been founded and was run by local businessman James Elwin Wright and Elizabeth began a close association with him that lasted until 1955. Wright also had a real estate business in Florida and soon Elizabeth moved there to act as secretary. She, Wright, and her sister Anna were also involved in evangelistic and Sunday school work in the tourist camps around Orlando and Elizabeth operated a religious bookstore.

In 1929 Wright started the New England Fellowship (NEF). Elizabeth's sister, Kathryn, was the first staff member and Elizabeth was the second. In 1931 she became the NEF's director of Christian Education. She was involved in training teachers for vacation Bible schools all over the New England area as well as establishing programs for religious education in public schools in many states. By 1940 she was supervising teachers in DVBS and in rural schools who were teaching about 21,000 children a year. She also began taking courses which resulted in her receiving a Master's degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1946. Also in 1946 she took the lead in founding the first accredited Christian secondary school in New England, the Boston Christian High School (later the Lexington Christian Academy). She assisted in other areas of the Fellowship's activities, such as running the conference grounds' cafeteria.

She was very active in many Christian organizations in New England. In 1952, she became the assistant to the executive secretary (Wright) of the World Evangelical Fellowship. She was also a member of the Women's Fellowship and the Education Commission of the National Association of Evangelicals. She planned in 1956 to teach Christian education at the Biblical Seminary of India and serve as secretary to Dr. Everett Cattell, then president of the Evangelical Fellowship of India. However, she was refused permission to enter the country because of India's stricter policy toward missionaries, and went to Taiwan instead. After leading seminars there, she decided there was a continuing need for teacher training and decided to stay on as an independent missionary. Besides the training seminars she held, she was active in the Taiwan Evangelical Fellowship and the China Sunday School Association. She also held evangelistic meetings around the island, especially in isolated villages. In 1972, she held 8l outdoor meetings, 68 church meetings, and 36 hospital meetings. In addition, before and during her time in Taiwan she led Christian education seminars in Ceylon, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Hong Kong.

She returned to the United States in 1976 and moved to Miami, Florida, where she lived with her sister Kathryn. In 1982 they moved to a missionary retirement home in Bradenton, Florida. They both remained active in missionary, evangelistic, and church activities, especially in helping to establish youth work and Sunday schools for immigrating Haitian Christians. Miss Evans died in 1989.


6.00 Audio Tapes

462 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in October, 1984, and August, 1985.

Accession 84-120, 85-110, 85-111

March 24, 1986

Robert Shuster

J. Nasgowitz

Revised June 16, 1993

M. L. Larson

Collection 279 Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Evans
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US