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Gospel Recordings, Inc., Records

Identifier: CN 036

Brief Description

Correspondence, reports, and other documents relating to the organization's work of providing Christian workers around the world with phonograph records or audio tapes of brief evangelistic programs of music, Scripture and sermons in thousands of different languages and dialects, presented by indigenous speakers of each tongue. Most of the correspondence is between the staff of Gospel Recordings and Christian workers in different countries, such as missionary to Africa Paul White, requesting particular programs and reporting on results. The collection contains thousands of the actual tapes in hundreds of different languages.


  • Created: 1939-1978


Conditions Governing Access

The following audio tapes are restricted and may not be used without written permission:

T362, T364, T376, T553, T554, T555, T791, T792, T813, T814

Forms to be sent to the contact person should be obtained from the staff in the Reading Room, and semt to:

  • Executive Director
  • Global Recordings
  • 41823 Enterprise Circle North, Ste 200
  • Temecula CA 92590-5682
  • Conditions Governing Use

    Global Recordings (formerly Gospel Recordings, Incorporated), retains the copyright to all audio recordings in this collection. Permission to publish quotations from any of the recordings must be obtained Global Recordings. Forms to be sent to the GR representative can be obtained from the Archives staff. For more information, contact:

  • Executive Director
  • Global Recordings
  • 41823 Enterprise Circle North, Ste 200
  • Temecula CA 92590-5682
  • Organizational History

    Gospel Recordings (GR) was begun by an American missionary to Central America, Joy Ridderhof, in 1938. The purpose of the organization, initially called Spanish Gospel Recordings, was to manufacture recordings of Scripture verses and gospel messages in Spanish and various dialects for distribution on the mission field. The goals of the organization were very quickly expanded to include recordings in many languages and the name was consequently changed to Gospel Recordings.

    From its international headquarters in Los Angeles, GR maintained contact with hundreds of missionaries and gathered information on approximately four thousand languages and dialects. Millions of records were distributed without charge to missionaries in 165 countries. GR also developed various kinds of hand or battery-powered phonograph and tape recorders for use in areas that were remote from electric power sources, and offered seminars for missionaries in the technical, electronic, and linguistic aspects of cross-cultural communications. GR had affiliated offices in Canada, Mexico, Australia, India, Great Britain, Hong Kong, and South Africa.


    47.0 Linear Feet (34 Boxes (34RC, 51 trays; 47.0 linear feet); Audio Tapes, Phonograph Records, Photographs)

    Language of Materials


    Arrangement and Description

    NOTE: In the Scope and Content section, the notation "Folder 2-5" means Box 2, Folder 5.

    The collection consists of correspondence, reports and other papers, and audio tapes, all documenting Gospel Recordings' work of providing Christian workers around the world with phonograph records or audio tapes of brief evangelistic programs of music, Scripture and sermons in thousands of different languages and dialects, presented by indigenous speakers of each tongue. Correspondence with missionaries and audio recordings predominate. One other significant folder (Folder 8-72) contains a script manual consisting of the scripts used for the recordings in different languages. These scripts are brief dialogues or monologues on Christian themes. Different selections from the script manual were used for different languages.

    Note on arrangement of papers: The paper contents of the collection were processed on several occasions. In 1978 the archivist processed a series of foreign correspondence arranged by country (Folders 1-1 through 8-71) and several miscellaneous files (Folders 8-72, 73). In 1981, a more diverse administrative series was added to the collection, part of which consisted of a similar foreign correspondence subseries (Folders 9-54 through 32-21), which appeared to overlap with the first series. If, in fact, the two foreign correspondence subseries overlap, it is unclear why they were separated. The two subseries of foreign correspondence obviously lack certain files. For example, voluminous correspondence may exist for a country for 1954 and 1956, but be wholly missing for 1955. Some of these gaps are filled by the correspondence of the other subseries, but many country sections are noticeably missing correspondence for 1955. The larger administrative series included separate files for many countries marked "Excerpts." The letters in these files were annotated as having had portions copied out from them, all during 1980. The archivist abolished the "Excerpt" files, and correspondence contained in them was filed into the main body of the foreign correspondence. The order of the foreign correspondence files was maintained in the exact order in which they were received from GR, grouped together according to country and arranged in alphabetical order.

    Unique to the second foreign correspondence subseries is a section of domestic correspondence (Folders 21-39 through 31-18). As with the foreign files, many chunks of the early United States correspondence are missing. For instance, there is no "A" file for 1951, but thick folders for "B"-"Z". There is no domestic correspondence at all for 1942-1950. In general, the USA letters are filed alphabetically by year. A letter from a person representing a school, mission, or other institution might be found under the person's name or that of the institution; (correspondence with the Messianic Message to the Jews and Slavs is filed under G for director Moses H. Gitlin, while Clyde Taylor's letters appear under E for the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association, of which he was Executive Secretary). There is a good deal of correspondence on Moody Bible Institute stationery, but it is scattered among many correspondents. The same is true for Columbia Bible College; Folder 22-1 includes many letters from CBC President and Mrs. Robert C. Mc Quilkin.

    Researchers should be aware that information on the same region may be in more than one place in the files if that region has had more than one name, such as the Congo. Files for Northern Rhodesia are all found under Zambia, the country's present name. All files labelled Rhodesia refer to Southern Rhodesia. All Ceylon material is filed under the heading Sri Lanka. Material for England/Great Britain is under United Kingdom.

    Note on arrangement of audio tapes: The cassette audio tapes were processed in three sections: T 1 through T 1300 were processed in 1978; T 1301 through T 1744 were added in 1981; T 1745 through T 2504 were included at a later date, ca. late-1981 or early-1982. The archivist assigned numbers to audio tapes T 1 through T900 which were identical with those given by GR (i.e., GR's tape 432 is identified in this guide as T432). For most of these, GR assigned identical numbers to two cassette tapes whose contents were different (i.e., GR sent two tape 432s, and there are consequently two T432s listed in this guide). When requesting any tape numbered T1 through T900, the researcher should, therefore, request the tape using both the T-number and language desired. For all tapes numbered T901 and higher, the archivist assigned sequential numbers to each tape numbered by GR, regardless of the GR-number. T-numbers are, therefore, not duplicated after T900 (the Location Record for the audio tapes identifies the GR-number for all tapes T901 and following). Tapes T1701 through T1744 were intended as replacement tapes for previously existing programs. Gospel Recordings said in a letter of 1980, " some cases additional material has been added in a particular language and the revised cassette is being sent to replace the original one." The Archives has chosen to retain the superceded tapes as well as the new ones. The number in parentheses with the T# shows GR's number as a cross-reference.

    The predominant correspondence in the collection is an extensive series subdivided into two subseries (Correspondence, Foreign; Folders 1-1 through 8-71 and 9-54 through 32-21) made up of requests from missionaries for various recordings and their reports on the effects the recordings had. The correspondence reflects GR's distribution and contributions, to and from a wide base of mission organizations, individual missionaries, and evangelized nationals. Many mission agencies are represented in these files - too many to be thoroughly treated or extensively mentioned in this guide.

    There is a short subseries of files headed "Correspondence" that does not strictly concern countries. Folders 9-38 through 9-53 are special sets of letters kept separate for administrative reasons. The file on Paul White (Folder 9-53) concerns this well-known "Jungle Doctor," a native Australian medical missionary to Central Africa. Francis D.R. Moote (Folder 9-51) was GR's lawyer. David Van Yokum's correspondence (Folder 9-52) traces GR's attempts to deal with a questionable literature distribution agency. It is unclear why the two folders of miscellaneous correspondence (Folders 9-48 and 49) were selected to remain out of the general run of correspondence domestic and foreign, but the content of these letters is generally more substantial than the others, being primarily narrative accounts of witnessing via GR materials, etc.

    Filling out the paper documents are roughly three boxes of folders not labelled "Correspondence" (Folders 9-1 through 37, 32-32 through 42, and boxes 33 and 34). Included in these folders is correspondence filed for subject content rather than geographical location. Several files concern GR publications. Folders 33-11 to 17 concern the publication of Phyllis Thompson's 1960 Faith by Hearing into several other languages, as well as art work prepared for the book's cover. Sanna Morrison Barlow Rossi wrote at least four books about GR's work: A Man's Hand (Folders 34-10,11) about GR's collaboration with existing missionaries in Venezuela in 1958; Mountains Singing, concerning the Philippines, 1950 (Folder 34-21); Light is Sown (Folder 34-7, including a complete rough draft); and Arrows of His Bow (Folder 9-11).

    The "articles" in Folders 9-12 through 9-16 are partially articles about GR and by its staff and partially articles collected by the GR office but not necessarily documenting GR activity. The Swart Dani article (folder 9-16) concerns the work of GR in Nigeria.

    Other writings and publications appear in several files. Fruit of the Vine (Folder 33-22) includes a few meditations written for that devotional booklet by Joy Ridderhof. The Interim (Folder 33-26) contains only volume 1 number 1 of this GR publication dated 1963; (it is not known how long the publication lasted or why it was discontinued). The TTT newsletters (Folders 34-39 through 43), stood for Two or Three Together, the title chosen for GR's prayer letter. While not exactly a publication, A Minute with Joy (Folder 34-15) was a GR production: it was a short-lived telephone dial-an-inspiration with GR news and a "rejoicing reminder" from Ridderhof. The message changed each week. The file on this project contains primarily data on public response to it.

    A number of other miscellaneous features are worthy of mention. Files from 1954 often contain "Missionary Information" sheets, sent to missionaries in a GR survey. Mexico alone (Folder 17-11) returned twenty-eight questionnaires, almost all from Wycliffe Bible Translators staff. Some of the countries represented by survey sheets are Dutch New Guinea, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, Netherland Antilles, the Philippines, Upper Volta, and Uruguay.

    Of special interest are letters from natives expressing GR's effect on their lives (see, for instance, scattered letters in Folder 18-16). The files of Ghana (Folders 12-4 through 13-4) are especially rich in this sort of correspondence, as are those of Nigeria (Folders 18-11,12,13).

    The second foreign correspondence subseries is distinct from the first in that it includes a section of files under the heading United States. In general, the USA material includes not only correspondence with missionary distributors of GR records, but also personal requests from laymen for recordings to assist them in their private evangelization of family and friends, and also business correspondence concerning the physical plant and operation of GR's office.

    There is also material about radio in this collection. The file on Latin American radio (Folder 34-29) has much correspondence concerning missionary broadcasting in Latin America between 1947 and 1950, the relatively early phase of such work. Missions Hot Line (Folder 34-20) was a design undertaken by Family Radio Network, whereby U.S. offices of foreign mission boards could call in news and prayer requests, and their taped calls would be aired on the radio.

    There is a series of folders labelled "Distribution" (Folders 32-24 to 32-35). These concern GR overseas distribution centers in Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore and Uganda. There is little difference in content between these files and the parallel correspondence files for the countries listed. The difference is so slight that the archivist, finding a few folders labelled "Distribution," but filed among the "Correspondence" folders, disbanded and interfiled that material chronologically with the general correspondence, not realizing any separate functions of the files.

    Folders 33-28 through 34-5 contain "Languages" files. They all date from the late 1940s and early '50s, and contain correspondence with missions serving in areas whose native tongues GR was researching. Inasmuch as local missionaries were often responsible for making the native languages accessible to GR's use, the correspondence discusses the languages themselves and difficulties of recording, etc. The folder on Alaskan tongues (Folder 33-29) includes some native language tracts, annotated to be recorded for distribution. The file of the Nigerian language Tangale (Folder 34-2) includes parallel scripts in English and Tangale used to cut fourteen GR records. This series is totally contained in United States correspondence, even though some of the languages may be non-American. Exceptions to this are the Kenya (Folder 33-47) and Liberia (Folder 33-49) files, which are not of this series at all - their appearance among the others is by chance of title alphabetization.

    A few files concern various types of GR phonograph records. "Ditto" records (Folder 32-37) contained the message of salvation on one side in English and on the other side in a foreign language. "Mimic" records (Folder 34-14) sought to teach English to non-westerners by an involved phonetics system. The "Cardtalk" (Folder 9-23) was an ingenious hand-powered device for playing records where electricity was unavailable. Phonograph discs in this collection (P1-P3) were made to be used on the Cardtalk machine. "Missionary Records" (Folders 34-17 to 34-19) were intended for United States distribution, and explained GR's mission and other missionary endeavors. Folder 34-17 includes scripts for some of these records.

    The folder on "Travel" (Folder 34-45) contains comparative data on three mission-oriented travel companies: Crusade Travel Bureau, Evangelical Travel Service, and the EFMA's Security Travel Service.

    Folder 8-73 contains a GR staff manual which includes the organization's doctrinal statement, an outline of its procedures and administrative structure, and a set of its articles of incorporation.

    A few odds and ends also are worth mentioning. The folders of Malawi correspondence (Folders 16-28, 29) contain Braille-typed letters from persons at three separate schools for the blind. The Honduras folder for 1939-1941 (Folder 13-13) includes personal correspondence of Joy Ridderhof from the days when GR was still known as Spanish Gospel Recordings. The Mongolia file (Folder 17-19) includes scripts for ten messages in Mongolian longhand with English translation, which were then used to record the GR discs, and correspondence about those scripts.


    The materials in this collection were received from Gospel Recordings, Inc. by the Billy Graham Center Archives in March, April, and June 1978, and August and October 1980.

    Accessions: 78-5,78-7, 78-11, 78-23

  • September 5, 1978
  • Robert Shuster
  • Abraham Labiano
  • Mary Schimmels

    Accessions: 80-97, 80-134, 80-143
  • June 26, 1981
  • Galen R. Wilson
  • Andrene Peterson
  • Janyce Nasgowitz
  • Title
    Collection 036 Records of Gospel Recordings, Inc.
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

    501 College Avenue
    Wheaton IL 60187 US