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Fanny Crosby Papers

Identifier: CN 035

Scope and Contents

Collection contains thousands of manuscripts of lyrics and music dictated by Fanny Crosby, poetess and hymnwriter. Most of the manuscripts are numbered and dated. This collection is also available on microfilm. The manuscripts in this collection are all of poems composed by Crosby after 1861. Most of these poems are dated and the majority are numbered in sequence. A description of these manuscripts can be found in the foreword of Fanny Crosby Still Speaks. For most of the poems the transcriber is unknown, but there are several large sheets in the n.d. (not dated) file with both words and music apparently copied by Alexander Van Alstyne. All the manuscripts are arranged chronologically, with one folder for each year. The last folder contains undated manuscripts. To locate individual hymns in the collection, the archivist created a complete index of hymn titles in the collection


  • Created: 1862-1915

Conditions Governing Access

The property and copyrights to the materials in this collection belong to the Hope Publishing Company. The records are available for researchers to use, but permission from the Hope Publishing Company must be obtained for the publication of any direct quotation from these manuscripts.

For more information, contact:


Hope Publishing Company

380 Main Place

Carol Stream, IL 60188

Forms to be sent to the contact person should be obtained from the staff in the Reading Room.

Biographical Information

Frances Jane Crosby (1820-1915) was born to John and Mercy Crosby in Putnam County, New York, in 1820. A month-and-a-half after her birth a quack doctor prescribed hot mustard poultices for a slight eye infection. The cure was unquestionably worse than the disease and eventually resulted in her total loss of sight.

From 1835 until 1858 she lived at the New York Institution for the Blind, first as a student and then as a teacher of English and history. She became quite well known while at the institution, partially because of her poetry (her first book, The Blind Girl and Others, was published in 1844) and partially because of her cheerful, buoyant personality. She knew several American presidents and even addressed Congress. Also during the stay at the institution two major events of her life occurred. First, in November 1850 she committed her life to Christ at a revival meeting held in the Broadway Tabernacle in New York City. Second, in 1858 she married a fellow teacher at the institution, the blind musician and composer Alexander Van Alstyne (?-1902). She continued, however, to be known to her public and later generations as Fanny Crosby.

She wrote her first hymn in 1864 at the request of song publisher William Bradbury. Bradbury's operation was taken over by Lucius Horatio Biglow and Sylvester Main. She remained associated with Biglow and Main for her life although she did some work for other companies. Her capacity for work was incredible and often she would compose in her head six or seven hymns a day. These would usually be transcribed by her husband or by friend Carolyn Ryder or her secretary Eva C. Cleaveland. (Fanny Crosby herself could write little more than her name.) She did not compose the melody for any of her lyrics. During her life her songs were very influential in American Protestant churches as was the example her life gave of cheerfulness and courage in the face of adversity. Among her still popular hymns are Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior, Rescue the Perishing, and Blessed Assurance.


1.70 Cubic Feet (2 boxes (1 RC, 1 ODC, 1.7 Cubic Feet), 2 reels of microfilm)

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The Hope Publishing Company acquired these materials when it purchased Biglow and Main in 1922. They were loaned to the Billy Graham Center Archives in March 1978.

Accession 78-6

March 20, 1978

Robert Shuster

A. Labiano

M. Schimmels

Collection 035 Papers of Fanny Crosby
Bob Shuster
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