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Collection 698 Papers of Lois R. Ferm

Identifier: CN 698

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, memoranda, reports, and other documents relating to Lois R. Ferm’s work as a personal assistant to Billy Graham and particularly relating to the Billy Graham Center, Graham’s personal library, and the BGEA Oral History Project.

This collection consists of materials documenting Ferm’s work as a personal assistant to Billy Graham and Resource Coordinator of the BGEA. Although there are a few earlier items, almost everything in collection dates from 1970 or later. The documents particularly reflect three areas: her involvement with the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College; her supervision of the library at the BGEA office that served as Graham’s personal secretariat in Montreat, North Carolina; and her founding and management of the BGEA oral history program, for which she did almost all the interviewing. She also performed tasks, such as serving on the staff of particular evangelistic campaigns or traveling on business with her husband, Robert O. Ferm, who was also an assistant to Graham (see Robert Ferm’s papers in Collection 19).

Ferm probably most often worked out of her home (first in Georgia and then in North Carolina), but there was also an office for the oral history program administration and transcription in the BGEA headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There was also a desk for her at the Montreat office, where she would often work until 1995, when she and most of the library from Montreat moved to the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.


Series: Personal Files of Lois Ferm

Arrangement: Chronological

Date Range: 1967-1991

Volume: .5 cubic feet, 1 Box

Type of Documents: Letters, reports, memoranda, transcripts

Correspondents: Billy Graham, Bert Greener, Joseph W. Grier, Martha Warkentin, T.W. Wilson

Notes: This series consists of Ferm’s files relating to her BGEA work which she kept at home, donated by her family. The most significant items are her correspondence with Billy Graham, going up to 1991. The series also contains a transcript of her 1978 conversation with David Johnston, acting head of the Billy Graham Center (folder 1-4), and a transcript of a video interview Ferm did in 1980 for Syracuse University on her own life and the involvement of Billy Graham and the BGEA in religious broadcasting in the United States (folder 1-5).

Exceptional items:

Folder 1-1: 12/10/1970. Seven-page letter from Ferm describing her suggestions for the Billy Graham Center’s site, objectives, staff, and other topics. (See also her report attached to her 4/23/1975 letter to Allan Emery in this folder); 4/6/1971 letter from Graham about how he dealt with difficult personalities and affirming his appreciation for Ferm’s help; 2/19/1974 letter from Ferm to Mrs. Harry Truman saying she was researching for BG on the relations of religious leaders with presidents (see also folder 6-4); undated note (probably early-1974) from Ferm about why some black people did not attend the 1973 Atlanta crusade; 8/5/ 74 letter giving her and her husband’s impression of the 1974 Lausanne Congress, followed by an undated report on the oral history interviews she did there; a letter from church historian Wilbur M. Smith (WMS) to Donald Hoke, director of the BGC, urging that the Center library concentrate on works about evangelism; 4/8/1975 note from Graham announcing Ferm’s appointment to the Archives subcommittee of the BGEA board of trustees

Folder 1-2: Ferm regularly gave Graham reports on her oral history interviewing trips, which usually involved visiting a city where the BGEA was currently planning an evangelistic crusade. See for example the 8/1/1976 letter for the Toronto meetings and her 12/21/1980 letter for the 1980 Las Vegas meetings; 5/6/1977 letter from Graham to heads of various BGEA departments telling them to cooperate with Ferm in transferring records to the BGC Archives; several letters about the development of a deed of deposit by Bert Greener, attorney for the BGEA, and Graham’s attorney Joseph Grier to the cover the material sent to the BGC Archives by the BGEA and Graham; Ferm’s letter to Graham on 3/5/1985 lists her concerns about the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College and how it will relate to the Center; Ferm’s letter of 8/28/1986 and Graham’s reply of 10/16/1986 deal with the disposition of Graham’s reference library on evangelism that was being kept at the Montreat office (see also Ferm’s letters of 10/16 and 12/8/86 in folder 2-6).


  • Created: 1967-2000

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Lois Roughan Ferm

Birth: February 5, 1918 in Buffalo, New York

Death: November 29, 2009


Parents: Laurence and Bertha Roughan

Marital Status: Married Robert Oscar Ferm

Children: Esther Mitchell, Rebecca Ann Dodson, Pal Robert, Stephen John


1939 - Received B.A. from Houghton College, Houghton, New York

1955 - Received M.A. in Library Science from the University of Michigan

1973 - Received Ph.D. in Education and Library Science from the University of Minnesota. Dissertation “Student Characteristics and Environment for Learning in Wesleyan College”


1952-1970s - High school teacher in New York and Minnesota; faculty member at John Brown University; Houghton College, faculty member and chairman of the department of education; University of Minnesota, Education Librarian; Brenau College, director of Admissions

1964: Began working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) occasionally, helping with women’s groups in the preparation for various BGEA evangelistic campaigns and other jobs

1970-2004: Founder and chief interviewer of the BGEA’s oral history program

1973-2005: Joined Billy Graham's staff as Personal Assistant and Resource Coordinator; usually worked at home but sometimes out of the Montreat or Minneapolis offices; from 1995, she usually worked out of her office at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina

Other significant information:

Ferm was a staff member for numerous BGEA crusades and traveled extensively in Europe, Australia, and Japan. She also attended the North American Congress on Evangelism, Minneapolis (1970); the European Congress on Evangelism, Amsterdam (1971); the International Congress on World Evangelism, Lausanne, Switzerland (1974); and the International Conferences for Itinerant Evangelists in 1983 and 1986 and Amsterdam 2000.


1 Box (DC)

Language of Materials