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Collection 103 Ephemera of Aimee Semple McPherson

Identifier: CN 103

Scope and Contents

Sermon transcripts, sermon notes, audio tape recordings of sermons, films, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, video tape, and evangelistic campaign literature related to Aimee Semple McPherson's ministry as an evangelist, radio speaker, public figure and founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Most of the materials in this collection are available from the BGC Archives only on microfilm.


  • Created: 1921-1946

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this material.

Biographical Information

Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy was the only child of a Canadian farmer and his wife, born October 9, 1890. Her mother, Minnie Kennedy, was very active in the Salvation Army. Aimee was converted during a Pentecostal tent revival led by Robert Semple. She skipped school just to attend his meetings. She married Semple in August, 1908. Aimee assisted Semple in his revivals for the next two years as the couple prepared for mission work in China. They relied on the support and prayers of individuals since they went out as independents. The couple had been in China less than a year when Robert became ill and died. Aimee was left pregnant with no money, but managed to return to the United States with the assistance of missionary friends in 1911. Upon her return to the United States, Aimee married her second husband, Harold S. Mc Pherson, in 1912. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1921. She began an itinerant revival ministry in 1916 which continued until she founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Los Angeles in 1923. Previously, she had founded the Angelus Temple, which became the headquarters of the denomination. The church's doctrine was based on four roles of Jesus' ministry as Savior of the world, Baptizer of the Holy Spirit, Healer of human infirmities, and returning King of Kings. Her messages of love and forgiveness were characterized by using drama and music as effective mediums of communication. The church began its own Bible college, the Lighthouse, in 1926. Ministries of the church extended in many areas including aid to the jobless. A monthly periodical was published, the Bridal Call, with Sister Mc Pherson serving as the editor. The evangelist engaged in a third brief marriage with David L. Hutton in 1931 which ended in divorce in 1935. She made several transcontinental speaking tours and often traveled to her scattered mission churches in the California area. Mc Pherson's career had its moments of sensationalism and drama as she was involved in several court battles throughout her career. One incident involved a purported kidnapping, although no suspects were ever arrested. Battles between her mother, Minnie Kennedy, and daughter Roberta, over control of the church in the 1930's were widely publicized. Sister Aimee's career ended September 27, 1944, in Oakland, California, as a result of an overdose of sleeping pills which was ruled to be accidental. She was found by her son Rolf, successor to her position as head of the church and minister at Angelus Temple. The church's ministry continues today with foreign missionaries in over twenty countries and two periodicals, Foursquare World Advance and Communique. United States church members numbered over a hundred thousand.


3 Boxes

24 Audio Tapes

2 Films

25 Reels of microfilm

4 Phonograph Records

1 Photograph File

1 Video Tape

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

Note: Physically, the Archives only has three boxes of documents, boxes 1, 25, and 26. Twenty-three boxes of material were loaned to the Billy Graham Center Archives by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. After most of them were filmed, they were returned to the ICFG. So the Archives only has the microfilm of materials in boxes 2 through 24. box 1 consists of material the Archives acquired from other sources. boxes 25 and 26 consists of duplicates of some materials in boxes 2,3, 8-12 which the Church gave to the Archives.

Paper Records

Arrangement: Alphabetical/ chronological

Date Range: 1920-55, 1970-1973

Volume: 1.15 Cubic Feet (The Archives has most of the paper records only on microfilm)

boxes: 1, 25, 26

Geographic coverage: United States

Type of documents: Sermons, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, publicity manual, posters and other ephemera from evangelistic campaigns

Subjects: Life and ministry of Aimee Semple Mc Pherson, Rolf Mc Pherson, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, sermons on a variety of basic Christian doctrines and aspects of the Christian life, evolution

Notes: The bulk of the paper records (most of which the Archives has only as microfilm copies) consists of Sister Mc Pherson's sermon notes (folders 2-2 through 4-28, 5-14 through 6-20) and sermon transcripts. There are also notes for sermons by other, usually unidentified, preachers from after her death. The notes are arranged chronologically, the transcripts by subject. In many cases for important subjects there are a whole series of sermons on the same topic, covering a period of many years. The materials in boxes 25 and 26 are all items for which there were one or more copies, so when the documents were returned to the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel after microfilming, the Church permitted the Archives to have one set of copies.

Exceptional items: A few manuscript items are available in paper form. These are all in boxes 1, 25, and 26. Folders 1-1 and 1-2 contain stationery and posters from a Mc Pherson crusade in Oakland, California. Folder 1-3 contains a program with summaries of two of her sermons. Folder 1-4 contains assorted newspaper and magazine clippings about Mc Pherson's ministry dating from May, 1921, until September, 1946. A program from a play, Regem Adorate, written by the evangelist may be found in Folder 1-5. Folder 25-1 contains a manual for publicity for a debate between Sister Mc Pherson and Charles Lee Smith of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism over the proposition, "There is no God." Folder 25-2 contains a notebook with newspaper clippings from the celebration of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel's golden anniversary in 1973. Folder 2-1 contains a transcript of a debate over evolution.

Among the sermon notes and sermon transcripts are talks Mc Pherson and others gave at the church's training school (L.I.F.E.) on evangelism and other topics (folders 10-22 to 10-26).

There are some sermons and/or clippings by or about other Foursquare evangelists, including La Doona Dalrymple (folder 24-3), Lorna Mc Pherson (folder 13-1), Rolf Mc Pherson (son and successor of Aimee Semple Mc Pherson, folders 13-2 through 13-15), and Gladys De Lancey Smith (folder 5-8 to 5-11).

Audio/Video Materials

Arrangement: Chronological

Date Range: Date not known for most items, although most of the audio recordings of her sermons were probably made within five or six years of her death.

Volume: 24 audio recordings, 2 films, 4 phonograph records, 1 video

Geographic coverage: United States

Type of documents: Recordings of sermons, performance of hymns, news reel

Subjects: Christian doctrine, Christian life, hymns, life and ministry of Aimee Semple Mc Pherson

Notes: The series is composed largely of audio tapes containing messages and songs by Aimee Semple Mc Pherson. Some of the songs were written by Mc Pherson and sung by others (see T 1). Many of the tapes were sermons by the evangelist purchased from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (see T 2-T 20). Two films from the National Archives provide a very brief scene from a news reel. of Mc Pherson leading a parade in downtown Los Angeles. Phonograph records are among the items relating to Mc Pherson's ministry. They include songs of Aimee Mc Pherson sung by others (see P 2 and P 3). Phonograph P 4 is a sermon by the evangelist. The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel procured P 1, which is the life story of "Sister Aimee."

The video tape in the collection is an autobiographical narrative by Sister Mc Pherson, illustrated by pictures drawn many years after her death.

Accruals and Additions

Materials in this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center Archives in April, September, October, and November of 1979, January and February of 1980, and August of 1984.

Accession 79-41, 79-104, 79-118, 79-122, 79-122, 79-127, 79-130, 79-134, 80-3, 80-19, 80-31, 84-102, 84-116 2/29/80

Mary Ann Buffington

S. Kouns

8/22/84, revised

R. Shuster

J. Nasgowitz

1/17/90, revised

L. Beloz

Revised 11/10/98

Robert Shuster

Accessions: 80-150, 87-20

July 30, 2002, Updated

Robert Shuster

Related Materials

The following items have been given to the Evangelism & Missions Collection

Bridal Call

Vol. I, No. 8-12; January-May 1918

Vol. II, No. 1-12; June-December 1918; January-May 1919

Vol. III, No. 4-5, 7-8, 10-12; September-October, December 1919, January, March-May 1920

Vol. IV, No. 1-12; June-December 1920, January-May 1921

Vol. V, No. 1-7, 9-12; June-December 1921, February-May 1922

Vol. VI, No. 2, 4-12; July, September-December 1922, January-May, 1923

Vol. VII, No. 1-8; June-December 1923, January 1924.


Vol. XI, No. 9; April 9, 1918

Word and Work

Vol. XXXI, No. 31; September 8, 1917

Vol. XL, No. 24; 30-33; August 10, September 28, October-December 1918

Vol. XLI, No. 1-2, 4, 7, 9; January-February, April, July, September 1919

Collection 103 Ephemera of Aimee Semple McPherson
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