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Collection 567 Papers of H. Wilbert Norton

Identifier: CN 567

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews, photographs, correspondence, reports, minutes, budgets, pamphlets, and manuscripts relating to Gustav H.W. Norton's (1915-2017) work as an administrator and professor of theology and missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Wheaton College, as well as his involvement with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Evangelical Literature Overseas, and Mid-American Keswick. The collection documents Norton’s childhood, education, and career as professor of missions and leader in a number of Christian organizations. Also included are Norton’s files of research material he gathered for an article on Wheaton College's influence on missions.


  • Created: 1950-2000

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: Gustaf Hugo Wilbert Norton

Birth: February 14, 1915, in Chicago, Illinois

Death: February 20, 2017 at his residence in Go Ye Village, Tahlequah, Oklahoma


Parents: Axel Hugo Olson (changed to Norton when he immigrated to the United States) and Anna Victoria (Carlson) Norton

Marital Status: Married Colene Woodward in 1939

Children: Will Jr., Peter K., Seth W., Timothy Lamie (deceased), Betsy Lynn (deceased)

Conversion: At the age of 12 in a Swedish Methodist church in Chicago


1932 Graduated Senn High School, Chicago

1932-1936 Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, B.A., History/Anthropology

1936-1939 Columbia Bible College, Columbia, South Carolina, M.A.,Th.M.

1955 Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Th.D., Church History/Theology

1964-1965 University of Chicago, post graduate studies


1940 Ordained as minister by the Evangelical Free Church of America in February

1940-1950 Missionary with the Evangelical Free Church to the Belgian Congo (Mission Evangelique de L'Ubangi), eventually became founder and director of the Bible Institute of the Ubangi (now, Goyongo Theological Seminary) in the Belgian Congo

1947-1949 Member, Congo Protestant Council (Radio committee)

1950 Missions faculty, Columbia Bible College Graduate School

1950-1964 Professor of Missions, Trinity College and Seminary, first of Chicago and then of Deerfield, Illinois

1950-1980 Board member, Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship

1953-1955 Dean of Men, Trinity College and Seminary

1955-1957 Dean of Education, Trinity College and Seminary

1955-1989 Board member of the Evangelical Teacher's Training Association. Chairman, 1979-1989

1955-1975 Board member, Evangelical Literature Overseas

1957-1964 President, Trinity College and Seminary

1965-1980 Professor of Missions and Evangelism, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois

1966 Participant in the Wheaton Congress on the Church's Worldwide Mission, Wheaton, Illinois; observer at the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin, Germany

1970 Participant in the World Communication Congress (Radio-TV) in Tokyo, Japan, and the World Missions Conference on Print Communications, Singapore

1972-1980 Dean of the Graduate School, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

1974 Participant in the International Congress on World Evangelization, Lausanne, Switzerland. Co-leader of the Hermeneutics Workshop

1980-1983 Founder and Principal, Jos ECWA Theological Seminary, Jos, Nigeria

1983-1987 Chaplain to international students at Wheaton College Graduate School

1983-1989 Executive director, Committee to Assist Ministry Education Overseas

1989-1993 Professor of Missions, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

1989 Participant in Lausanne II, Manila, Philippines

1993 Professor of Missions, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

Other significant information:

Served as guest lecturer at the Evangelical Theological Seminary (Osier, Croatia), Scandinavian Bible Institute (Sffle, Sweden), Bangui Evangelical School of Theology (Central African Republic), Melbourne Bible Institute (Melbourne, Australia) Charter member of the American Society of Missiology;

Charter member and founding president of the Evangelical Professors of Mission, now the Evangelical Missiological Society

Author of several books and numerous articles. Besides English, Norton spoke Lingala, Ngbaka. French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish


5.40 Cubic Feet (14 boxes (DC); Audio Tapes, Photographs)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means "Box 2, Folder 5"]

Series: Audio Tapes

Arrangement: Tapes are in chronological order by the date of the interview.

Date Range: 2000. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1915-1950.

Volume: 2 Tapes

Geographic Coverage: United States, Belgian Congo

Type of Materials: Oral history interviews

H. Wilbert Norton was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on August 7, 2000, at the Billy Graham Center.


Series: Photographs

The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

NORTON, H. WILBERT. Photos of Norton at the August 28 through September 5, 1975, meeting of the Asia Missions Association (these photos are badly decomposed), Norton and James F. Engel standing in front of a cathedral, possibly in an Asian country. 6 b&w, 1 color. 1975, undated


Series: Paper Records

Subseries: Three subseries: General; InterVarsity; Wheaton in World Missions research materials

Arrangement: The folder titles in the collection are as they were received from Dr. Norton. The division into three subseries was done by the archivist, based on what seemed to be the informal arrangement of the materials. They were also put in alphabetical order by the archivist.

Date Range: 1941-2000. Wheaton subseries also has photocopies of materials going back to 1936.

Volume: 5.4 cubic feet; 14 Boxes

Subjects: Norton's life and ministry after 1945; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Wheaton College Graduate School; the history of mission related activities on Wheaton's campus and the involvement of Wheaton alumni in foreign missions; Mid-America Keswick, Evangelical Literature Overseas, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's mission programs, particularly its triennial Student Mission Conference known as Urbana

Subseries: General

Arrangement: Alphabetical by significant words in folder title

Date Range: 1945-1979; most material is from the 1950s

Volume: 2.4 cubic feet; Boxes: 1-6

Geographic Coverage: United States; significant amount of correspondence with missionaries in the Congo

Type of Documents: Correspondence, reports on meetings, minutes, budgets, pamphlets

Correspondents: David Adeney, Ray Buker, Enock Dyrness, V. Raymond Edman, Ted Engstrom, Arthur Glasser, Billy Graham, Carl Henry, Stanley Kresge, Mel Larson, Clarence Nelson, Eugene Nida, James Nyquist, Lorne Sanny, Ray Schulenburg, Richard Seume, Wilbur Smith, T. Stanley Soltau, Harold Street, H. J. Taylor, Merrill Tenney, J. C. Thiessen, Edith Clare Torrey, Charles Troutman, Harold Van Broekhoven, Sam Wolgemuth, Charles Woodbridge Subjects: Norton's duties as professor of missions and later president of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and still later dean of the Wheaton College Graduate School; Association of Evangelical Professors of Mission, Evangelical Literature Overseas, Mid America Keswick,

Notes: The materials in this section consist mainly of correspondence, but there are numerous types of other documents such as reports, minutes, budgets, pamphlets, etc. Correspondence is concerned with Norton's responsibilities as professor and then president of Trinity (see especially folder 6-9), his speaking engagements (usually on some aspect of missions), and his involvement in the foreign missions program of the Evangelical Free Church as well as in missions generally, both as a ministry and a field of study.

Folder 1-4 contains a very few items from his mission service in the Belgian Congo (such as his checkbook), but almost everything else in the folder and the collection is dated from after his return to the United States in 1945. The same folder also has several letters from fellow missionaries in the Congo about their daily lives their and correspondence with the Evangelical Free Church about his adjustment back to life in the United States. A large part of the correspondence is personal, with reports going back and forth to friends in the pastorate or Christian work in the United States or on the foreign mission field, particularly from the Evangelical Free denomination. In particular, for Norton's leadership in the Free Church, particularly in foreign missions, see folders 5-1 and 6-7.

A variety of materials are available from the Asia Theological Association (folder 1-2) and the Asia Mission Association (folder 1-4) from the late 1970s, dealing with the development of theological seminaries and missions programs in Asian churches.

Folder 1-2 contains the papers given at the 1976 meeting of the American Society of Missiology on a wide range of topics dealing with the history, theology and practice of missions.

Folder 6-8 contains miscellaneous reports relating to theological and missions education, including reports from the East-West Center for Missions Research and Development, the Association of Theological Schools of South-East Asia, and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, and the Evangelical Theological Society. The same folder has a report by Louis King on the imprisonment and release of American missionaries in Vietnam in 1975 and the Seoul Declaration on Christian Mission by the Asia Missions Association.

Box 5 contains correspondence, reports and other materials relating to Norton's service on the board of Evangelical Literature Overseas in the mid to late 1950s. There are several reports on ELO's activities in Europe, Asia and Africa, activities that mainly involved providing Christian evangelistic, educational and devotional literature to Evangelical missions and bookstores.

Box 5 also contains documents, mainly minutes of meetings, from Norton's service on the board of Mid-America Keswick from at least 1957 until its dissolution in 1976 (although meetings apparently ceased in 1967). This was part of the larger Keswick movement, which sought by annual conferences to help Christians deepen their commitment to personal holiness. The minutes are mainly concerned with plans for the annual summer meetings and some correspondence with Alan Redpath, among others.

Subseries: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the United States of America

Arrangement: Alphabetical by significant words in folder title

Date Range: 1941-1980

Volume: 2.2 cubic feet; Boxes: 7-12

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Correspondence, minutes, reports, budgets, balance sheets, IV publications, job descriptions, manuals, a dairy, surveys, staff lists, programs, notes of speeches Correspondents: John Alexander, James F. Engel, Dave Howard, Lee Howard, Charles Hummel, John Kyle, Lydia Maillefer

Subjects: The development of InterVarsity in the United States from the 1940s down to 1980, evangelistic ministry on college and university campuses, IVCF's relationship to other Christian organizations, the Student Mission Conventions held in Urbana, Illinois

Notes: The records in this subseries cover several decades of Norton's activities as member of the Missions board of InterVarsity and a general supporter of the organization's activities. He had been one of the founders of the Foreign Mission Fellowship (FMF) of college students interested in becoming missionaries and when this group was later taken over by InterVarsity, he continued as a board member for IV's Student Foreign Missions Fellowship (later the Student's Mission Fellowship). A large number of the materials reflect IV's organization, operation and procedures.

There is a great deal on the financial aspect of the ministry, such as budgets, balance sheets, financial statements and other reports (folders 7-3, 7-4, 8-4-, 8-5, 9-6, 10-2, and 10-4, among others) as well as fund raising plans (folder 7-4).

Memos for the board on the organizations policies on annuities, pension plans and retirement are in folders 7-2, 10-6, and 10-7. Descriptions of operation procedures are in folder 10-4.

Other reports to the board of trustees are in folders 9-3, 10-4 and 10-5. Lists of IV staff members are in folder 11-2. Samples of IV literature are in folders 7-5 and 10-3. Copies of the organization's magazine, His, are in folder 8-7 and there is a memo on the magazine in folder 9-4.

Folder 7-1 contains an interesting set of documents on plans to use innovative multimedia techniques to hold evangelistic meetings on several campuses (2100 Productions). Norton was mostly involved in IV's mission program. Documents in the files deal with his speaking engagements on behalf of IV chapters around the country, his service on the mission board (folders 8-10 through 8-12, among others), his involvement in the triennial Urbana conferences (folders 8-7, 9-1, 11-4 through 12-6), and his gathering of materials on the history of the student missions movement.

Folder 10-9 contains reports of meetings in the late 1960s with representatives from the Evangelical Foreign Mission Association and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission association to discuss how the SFMF should adapt to changing times. The files on the Urbana conventions include minutes of the planning meetings, notes on the talks given by various speakers, programs and handouts from particular conventions, analysis of the commitments made by students at the 1979 convention (folder 9-1) and plans for follow-up on the convention of that year (folder 11-4).

Besides the Urbana meetings, InterVarsity also held an Overseas Training Camp, which was intended to give students a taste of living outside the United States. Plans for the camp are in folder 10-4. A similar training program within the United States was called Student Training in Missions (STIM) and the planning for this program is documented in folder 11-3.

Exceptional items: Folder 8-7 contains an article written by Norton for His magazine about the history of Urbana conventions up to 1976.

Folder 8-8 contains a manuscript, probably by Norton, apparently of what was intended to be a history of InterVarsity, but the manuscript only goes as far as describing the predecessors of IV, such as the League of Evangelical Students and the reaction against the liberal ecumenism among conservative Christian students.

Apparently as part of his historical research, Norton xeroxed the diary of Kenneth Hooker in folder 8-13. Hooker, an Englishman, was president of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Evangelical Unions. The diary describes his travels across eastern Canada in 1929-1930, visiting and speaking at churches and IV chapters. There is no indication of the location of the original diary. Folder 9-4 contains several interesting items, including a letter from Senator Mark Hatfield and memos on IV's policy on speaking in tongues and on its relationship with Campus Crusade for Christ.

Subseries: Wheaton in World Missions research materials

Arrangement: Alphabetical by significant words in folder title

Date Range: 1988-2000

Volume: .8 cubic feet; Boxes: 12-14

Geographic Coverage: Wheaton College campus, reports on Wheaton alumni who were missionaries around the world

Type of Documents: Outlines and manuscripts of books and articles, correspondence, xeroxes of magazine and newspaper clippings, surveys

Correspondents: Peter Stam III and many other Wheaton alumni, Norton's research assistant Nathan Oates

Subjects: Wheaton College history, especially missions-related activities on campus and involvement of alumni in foreign missions. Also material on the Billy Graham Center, the HNGR program, and revivals on Wheaton's campus.

Notes: In the mid 1990s, the Wheaton College Alumni Association, at the prompting of David Howard and Lyle Dorsett, decided to do a publication on the part Wheaton College and its alumni had played in world missions. Dr. Norton was commissioned to write it and then graduate student Nathan Oates was hired to gather research materials. This subseries contains the research materials gathered and drafts of the article that Norton wrote based on them. (The Alumni Association did not publish anything and the project was shelved in 1996, but much of it was used in 2000 and 2001 by David Howard for a book on the subject, also commissioned by the Alumni Association.) The resource materials include xeroxes of articles, Wheaton College publications and other documents (folders 12-9, 12-10, 13-2, 13-7, and 14-4) notes, and survey responses from and transcripts of interviews with a variety of alumni, faculty, and staff (folders 12-8, 13-1, 13-3, 13-4, 13-5, 14-1).

Perhaps the most significant original material gathered were the responses in folder 14-1 of dozens of alumni to a survey sent out by Norton and Oates asking about the attitude toward missions at Wheaton during the respondent's time on campus. Outlines, manuscripts of Norton's article and progress reports are in folders 13-3, 13-4, 13-8, and 14-3.

Exceptional items: Transcript of interview with former Wheaton College president Hudson Armerding about his tenure (folder 12-8); a variety of materials about alumnus and missionary to Southern Rhodesia Rudy Danielson (folder 12-10); memories of Wheaton alumna involved in the founding of the Foreign Mission Fellowship, including Peter Stam III (folder 13-1); reports on the origin of the College's HNGR program (folder 13-3); interview with alumni on the influence of Charles Blanchard and A. W. Tozer (folder 13-4); interviews with James Pludderman, Marj Van Der Puy, Lois McKinney, David Gieser (folder 13-5); materials about alumna and African theologian Watson A.O. Omulokoli (folder 13-7); text of a 1988 speech by Norton on the occasion of the fifty anniversary of the Wheaton College Graduate School; and a series of xeroxes of materials from the College's paper, the Wheaton Record, of articles about revivals on campus that occurred in 1936, 1943, 1950 and 1970. Some of the 1943 materials also refer to student Billy Graham.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Dr. H. Wilbert Horton in 1984, 1986, 2000, and 2001.

Accession 84-155, 86-89, 00-41, 01-05

March 13, 2001

Robert Shuster

W. Valentine

Collection 567 Papers of H. Wilbert Norton
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