Collection 565 Ephemera of J. Elwin Wright
Scope and Contents
Correspondence, photo albums, photographs, films, reports, clippings, minutes, slides and other materials relating to J. Elwin Wright's activities as leader of the New England Fellowship and a founder and leader of the National Association of Evangelicals and the World Evangelical Fellowship.The bulk of the collection documents several overseas trips Wright took for the NAE and WEF between 1945 and 1955.
- Created: 1897-1986
Conditions Governing Access
There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.
Biographical or Historical Information
Full Name: James Elwin Wright
Birth Date: July 9, 1890, in Corinth, Vermont
Death Date: June 29, 1973, in Tujunga, California
Parents: Rev. Joel Adams Wright and Mary Melissa (Goodwin) Wright
Marital Status: Married Florence Daisy Dunkling July 8, 1911
Children: Muriel Virginia, born 1914. She married Rev. David J. Evans
1921 Missionary Institute, Nyack, New York
Assisted his father with First Fruit Harvesters, which his father had founded. Became a real estate agent as a very young man and also from an early age was involved in child welfare reforms in his state and an active lobbying agent for these child welfare measures in the state legislature.
1909 Raised money to start the Bethesda Home for Needy Children near West Rumney, New Hampshire. Served as superintendent of the Home until 1914
1919 Ordained as a minister
1919-1931 Began to take his family on regular winter season trips to the Orlando area of Florida. He opened a real estate office in Orlando and also started a religious bookstore, a missionary retirement home and Sunday school classes for children living in trailer parks. He and his family continued to live at Rumney Depot, New Hampshire, for most of the year.
1924 Elected general overseer of First Fruits Harvesters, essentially replacing his father as head of the organization. After some internal struggles, the organization was reorganized to place greater emphasis on evangelism and cooperation with other Christian groups. The group continued to hold summer Bible conference and also started a radio ministry, a program of Bible instruction in public schools and a training program for rural Vacation Bible School teachers, among other activities.
1931 First Fruit Harvesters renamed the New England Fellowship
1939-1942 During this period Wright was traveling around the country meeting with Evangelical and Fundamentalist leaders trying to lay the groundwork for greater cooperation between them. He was also in the Boston area (and in 1942 around the United States) helping to arrange evangelistic rallies for radio evangelist Charles Fuller.
April 7-9 1942 Formation meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), for which Wright had been one of the main movers.
1942-1948 Field secretary of the NAE
October 5-November 12, 1946 Trip to Europe to investigate ways the NAE could assist evangelism efforts there, encourage cooperation among Evangelicals, as well as relief and refugee programs
1948 Wright became International Secretary of the NAE, particularly concerned with establishing cooperative relationships with Evangelical fellowships in other countries
July-August, 1948 Trip to Europe for NAE. Traveled with R. L. Decker
August 10-22, 1948 Delegate to the World Congress on Evangelism, held by Youth for Christ in Beatenberg, Swizerland
September 5-November 5, 1949 Tour of Europe for NAE
March 1950 - Resigned as president of NEF, elected honorary president
March, 1950 - Attended meeting at Hildenborough Hall in Kent, England, to discuss the possibility of an international organization of Evangelical Protestant fellowships
Spring 1950 - Tour of South America for NAE
ca. August 1950 - Commission on International relations of the NAE organized, with Wright as executive secretary
September 4-8, 1950 Meeting of delegates from several countries in Boston to continue discussions about the formation of an international Evangelical organization
September 29-January 1951 Tour of twenty-four countries with Clyde Taylor in Asia and Europe to talk with church leaders about an international Evangelical fellowship
August 5-11, 1951 Organizing meeting of the World Evangelical Fellowship held in Woudschoten, Netherlands. Wright elected as one of the secretaries of the organization
1951-1959 Wright served either as secretary or co-secretary of the WEF
December 27, 1951-March 27, 1952 Tour of Evangelical fellowships in Europe and Asia with Paul Rees
July 27-August 2, 1953 Attended general assembly of the WEF in Clarens, Switzerland
December 9, 1954-March 22, 1955 Tour of Evangelical fellowships in Europe and Asia with F. G. Keck of behalf of WEF
March 1956 Visit to Jamaica on behalf of WEF
August 22-31, 1956 Attended WEF general assembly in Providence, Rhode island
After his retirement in 1959, lived during the summer in Rumney Depot, New Hampshire, and in the winter in Tujunga, California. Started a real estate development corporation in California, with Roy Rogers as president.
April 5, 1967 Received a citation for meritorious service from the National Association of Evangelicals
Other significant information:
Author of: Old Fashioned Revival Hour and the Broadcasters(1940), Manna in the Morning (with Charles Fuller) (1943)
0.40 Cubic Feet (1 Box, Films, Photo Albums, Photographs, Slides)
Language of Materials
Arrangement of Materials
[Note: In the Arrangement description, the notation "folder 2-5" means box 2, folder 5.]
Date Range: 1950-1955, n.d.
Volume: 8 films (1.2 cubic feet)
Geographic Coverage: Asia, Europe, United States
Type of Documents: 16mm films
Notes: The films in this collection all are essentially home movies taken during Wright's travels, with the exception of film F8, which is a movie about evangelism to Jews, a movie which Wright in some way helped to produce.
F1 - (30 minutes) Scenes from Wright and Clyde Taylor's September 29, 1950- January 28,1951 tour on behalf of the WEF of Evangelical churches, missions and charitable institutions in Hawaii, Japan, Phillipines, Hong Kong and Thailand. There are some scenes of Evangelical workers and ministriesin these countries, as well as many shots of scenery and local color. Continued on F2. See folders 1-7 and 1-8 for Wright's correspondence from this trip.
F2 - (21 minutes) Scenes from Wright and Clyde Taylor's September 29, 1950- January 28,1951 tour on behalf of the WEF of Evangelical churches, missions and charitable institutions in India. There are some scenes of Evangelical workers and ministries (including a meeting of Bombay Youth for Christ and an Indian Christian teaching Bible classes using a flannelgraph), as well as many shots of scenery and local color. Continued from F1. See folders 1-7 and 1-8 for Wright's correspondence from this trip.
F3 - (27 minutes) Scenes from Wright and Paul Rees' Dec 27, 1951- March 23,1952, tour on behalf of the WEF of Evangelical churches, missions and charitable institutions in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, India and Pakistan. There are some scenes of Evangelical workers and ministries in these countries, as well as many shots of scenery and local color. See folders 1-9 for Wright's correspondence from this trip. Continued on F4
F4 - (27 minutes) Continuation of the Wright-Rees trip shown in T1, showing visits with Christian workers in Ceylon, Singapore and Hong Kong. See folder 1-9 for Wright's correspondence from this trip. Continued on F5
F5 - (26 minutes) Conclusion of the Wright-Rees trip shown in F3 and F4, showing visits with Christian workers in the Philippines, Japan and Honolulu. See folder 1-9 for Wright's correspondence from this trip.
F6 - (25 minutes) Scenes from Wright and Floyd Keck's Dec 9, 1954- March 22,1955, tour on behalf of the WEF of Evangelical churches, missions and charitable institutions in south Asia. There are a few captions that identify locations, such as Bombay, Delhi, the Evangelical Fellowship of India conference at Jansi, Travancore, and Ceylon. There are some scenes of Evangelical workers and ministries in these countries, as well as many shots of scenery and local color. Toward the end of the film are scenes of an evangelistic street meeting. See folder 1-11 for Wright's correspondence from this trip.
F7 - ( 34 minutes) Scenes from Wright and Floyd Keck's Dec 9, 1954- March 22,1955, tour on behalf of the WEF of Evangelical churches, missions and charitable institutions in southeast Asia: Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines. There are some scenes of Evangelical workers and ministries in these countries, as well as many shots of scenery and local color and pictures of the United States fleet in the Philippines. See folder 1-11 for Wright's correspondence from this trip.
F8. (28 Minutes) I Found My Messiah. Apparently a fictional story about an American Jew who comes to accept Jesus as the Messiah and Savior and the impact of his struggle on his family. Wright is mentioned in the opening credits as "presenting" the film, which was produced by Missions Visualized, Inc.
Negatives are arranged topically in the following negative files. All negatives are black and white, unless otherwise noted.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF EVANGELICALS. B/w copy negative of a car with a banner on the side about the NAE. This negative was made by the Archives staff from an image in Photo Alum: Wright, James Elwin I
WORLD EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP. B/w copy negative of Wright with some of the other delegates attending the WEF's 1953 meeting in Clarens, Switzerland. This negative was made by the Archives staff from an image in Photo Alum: Wright, James Elwin III
WRIGHT, JAMES ELWIN. B/w negative of Mr. and Mrs. Wright in 1947. This negative was made by the Archives staff from an image in Photo Alum: Wright, James Elwin I.
Series: Photo Albums
WRIGHT, J. ELWIN - I. Notebook of photos, newsletters, newspaper clippings, reports and notes covering the period 1941-1950. This materials in this notebook were apparently compiled by Wright's friend and associate Elizabeth Evans in preparation for a tribute to him long after his death. The documents describe Wright's leadership role in the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals and the initial meetings of the association in 1942 and 1943, Charles Fuller's evangelistic campaigns which Wright assisted with in 1942, Wright's trips on behalf of the NAE to South America in 1945-1946 and to Europe in 1946, his work as the association's field secretary, reviews of his and other books, and his last report as president of the New England Fellowship (1950). There are some typed notes in the notebook written by Elizabeth Evans.
WRIGHT, J. ELWIN - II Scrapbook of black and white photos, with captions, apparently by Wright, about his September 5 through November 5, 1949, trip to Europe on behalf of the National Association of Evangelicals. Included are pictures of Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and the Netherlands. Among the ministries shown is that of Gustav Gedat among homeless boys in Germany and the Bible Institute of Italy. Wright apparently compiled the scrapbook.
WRIGHT, J. ELWIN - III. Notebook of photos, clippings, correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous documents covering the period 1950-1986. The materials in this notebook were apparently compiled by Wright's friend and associate Elizabeth Evans in preparation for a tribute to him long after his death. The documents describe Wright's last years as president of the New England Fellowship, the beginnings of the World Evangelical Fellowship, Wright's chairing of the NAE's Commission on International Relations, his world trips for the WEF and NAE in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955, his last report as executive secretary of WEF (1958), and some material about his retirement activities. There are also several documents at the end of book evaluating Wright. Among those who sent comments were Harold John Ockenga, Homer Rodeheaver, Clyde Taylor, Harold Ferrin, Everett Graffam, Paul Rees, and Enock Dyrness.
Notes: Photo album I contains reports, clippings, and photographs illustrating the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals and Wright's major role in the movement. The album also documents his participation in a series of Charles Fuller evangelistic rallies held around the country at the same time as the NAE was forming and which were intended, in part, to help bring Evangelical leaders together to solidify the movement that resulted in the NAE. Other United Evangelical Action rallies which Wright helped organize for the same purpose are also illustrated in the slides and are referred to in some of the materials in album I. (Some of the slides in the slide file illustrate Wright's visit a few years later to the newly formed Fuller Theological Seminary). Carl McIntire's Fundamentalist organization, the American Council of Christian Churches, formed slightly before the NAE, was always heavily critical of the NAE for being too conciliatory to liberal Christianity. Folder 1-1 contains a notebook of clippings, perhaps put together by Wright or his assistant Elizabeth Evans, which contains numerous attacks by McIntire's The Christian Beacon on the NAE. The folder also has copies of Wright's correspondence with McIntire, defending cooperation among Evangelicals and criticizing McIntire's and the ACCC's polemics and separatist stand. Articles by William Ward Ayer, Harold J. Ockenga and Robert T. Ketcham are also of interest. Wright's work gathering information for the NAE's relief programs in the Caribbean and Europe is touched on in the correspondence in folders 1-2 through 1-5. Wright's travels overseas for the NAE convinced him that Protestant Evangelicals needed to work closer together to meet common problems and support evangelism efforts. He was one of the prime movers in the formation of World Evangelical Fellowship, as is reflected in his correspondence in folders 1-3 through 1-11, photo album III, the slides, and films F1 through F7. The album contains photos from his trips and attendance at WEF conferences, as well as reports on other Evangelical fellowships, such as the Evangelical Fellowship of India. The album also contains his last report as executive director of the WEF. The last portion of photo album III contains some materials about Wright's activities in retirement and many positive assessments of the man and his work from friends and associates. These materials were gathered several years after Wright's death as part of a tribute to him.
Photographs in this collection are arranged topically into the following photo files:
FULLER, CHARLES (OVERSIZE). Panorama photo (8" x 41") of a Old Fashioned Revival Hour Mass Meeting (evangelistic meeting) led by Charles Fuller in St. Louis, Missouri, April 10, 1942. 1 b & w.
GIDEONS (OVERSIZE). Panorama photo (10" x 29.5") of the attendees at the 1938 annual convention dinner of the Eastern States Gideon Society, held at the Parker House in Boston, January 14, 1938. 1 b & w.
INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP (OVERSIZE). Panorama photo (10" x 20") of the attendees at the Parade of Youth luncheon at the ICL's annual convention in Washington, DC, February, 1957/ 1 b& w
Slide Box 20 S1-S18 Series of color slides taken of the evangelistic meetings Charles Fuller held around the country in April to September 1942, with the assistance of Wright and in conjunction with groups that were planning the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals. Most of the slides are of the places that meetings were held in Philadelphia; St. Louis; Washington; Flint, Michigan; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and York, Pennsylvania; but there are a few of Fuller preaching to auditoriums of people and some relating to the NAE planning meeting held in St. Louis.
S19-S40 Series of color slides of people and sites involved in a series of United Evangelical Action meetings held around the country in the fall of 1942 and early 1943 at Altoona, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Des Moines; Minneapolis; Bismark, North Dakota; Billings, Montana; ofden, Utah; Spokane; Salt Lake City; Mesa, Arizona; Salisbury, North Carolina; and Birmingham, Alabama. Among the people pictured in the slides are Harold J. Ockenga, Paul Rees, C. L. Roddy, Charles Woodbridge.
S41-S106 Series of color slides of a trip to Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico taken by Wright, Oswald Smith and Clyde Taylor for the NAE, December 27, 1945 through January 1946. Includes pictures of scenery and the missionaries and church leaders they met with. Included are pictures of missionaries in Havana; a missions conference in Placetas, Cuba; missionaries in Haiti, a missionary conference in Haiti; mission conference in Puerto Rico; Bible school in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico; work of the West Indies Mission in Les Cayes, Puerto Rico, including a Bible Institute. See also Wright's correspondence about trip in folder 1-2.
S107-S116 Series of color slides from the trip of Wright and Clyde Taylor to California in February 1948 to visit the newly opened Fuller Theological Seminary, then located on the Cravens estate in Pasadena. Included are pictures of Charles and Grace Fuller, R. L. Decker, and Carl Henry.
S117-S153 Series of color slides from Wright and Clyde Taylor's world tour for the NAE and WEF in 1950-1951. Included are pictures of Christian and Missionary Alliance missionary activities in India, the Bombay Youth for Christ, Conservative Baptist missions in India, The Woman's Union Missionary Society's work in Fatehpur, India; Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Jerusalem; Presbyterian missions in Cyprus; Southern Baptist missions in Rome; a Protestant seminary in Aix en Provence, France; the Bible Institute at Nogent, France. See also correspondence in folders 1-7 and 1-8. S154 Color slide of Wright, R. L. Decker, and Clyde Taylor in Boca Raton, Florida in 1953.
Series: Paper Records
Arrangement: Alphabetical, by folder title
Date Range: 1897-1986
Volume: 1 box (.4 cubic feet), 3 photo albums (.6 cubic feet); 1 Box
Geographic Coverage: United States, Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Pacific Ocean
Type of Documents: Correspondence, minutes, newspaper clippings, photos
Correspondents: Harold Ferrin, C. E. Gremmels, Carl McIntire, Harold Ockenga, Paul Rees, Homer Rodeheaver, Clyde Taylor, J. Elwin Wright
Notes: The material in this collection do not give a complete picture of Wright's life and ministry. There is virtually nothing from his business career, nothing from his involvement in the founding and early years of National Religious Broadcasters and very little from his work with NAE's relief work, which later became the World Relief Commission. The collection reflects mostly his leadership of the New England Fellowship, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the World Evangelical Fellowship. Even for these organizations, the records in the collection are very incomplete, mostly reflecting his part in founding the NAE and his international trips between 1945 and 1955 which helped foster cooperation between Evangelical organizations in various countires.
Folders 1-2 through 1-11 consist mainly of his letters to his family about his trips and give a good sense of Wright's cvharacter and personality. The collection contains some significant items from the First Fruits Harvesters, which later became the New England Fellowship.
Folder 1-15 contains a membership card for FFH that includes a copy of its constitution. There is also in this folder a pamphlet by Joel Wright, J. Elwin's father, on the need for Christians to avoid denominational trappings. Many of the sentiments expressed in this pamphlet would be exemplified by J. Elwin Wright's ministry. This is illustrated by the photocopies of editorials (folder 1-12) that J. Elwin Wright wrote for the magazine of the organization.
The FFH minutes in folder 1-14 are very rudimentary, but give a good idea of the ways Wright expanded the organization's evangelistic and teaching ministry after 1924. A NEF 1944 annual report in folder 1-16 gives an idea of the extent of the organization's ministry toward the end of Wright's leadership of the organization. His last report as president of the organization is in photo album I.
Folder 1-13 contains correspondence, handbills and other materials about businessman and lay evangelist C. E. Gremmels, who often spoke at conference of the NEF and also had a ministry to prisoners.
Wright’s correspondence consists almost entirely not of official letters, but rather of letters home to his family to describe his travels. The letters therefore are very informal and often humorous. He spends as much or more space describing travel, interesting incidents and local sights as he does churches, Evangelical organizations and missions. Usually each folder contains his handwritten or typed original letters and the typed copies made by his secretary or by a family member.
The trips documented are his 1945-1946 trip to Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico (folder 1-2) which also describes the political riots in Haiti toward the end of their stay there; the 1946 trip to England, Scotland and Germany (folder 1-3) which was particularly concerned with refugee work and contains several comments on the American military forces in Europe; the 1948 trip to Switzerland, Italy and England (folder 1-4) which includes his brief comments on Youth For Christ's World Congress on Evangelism held in Beatenberg, Switzerland; his 1949 trip (folder 1-5) to England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Greece, and Italy during which he met with many Evangelical leaders in these countries; his 1950 trip to England (folder 1-6) to attend an international conference of Evangelical leaders to discuss the formation of a world association; his 1950-1951 world trip with Clyde Taylor (folders 1-7 and 1-8) that included stops in Hawaii, Wake Island, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Great Britain; his 1951-1952 trip with Paul Rees (folder 1-9) to England, Germany, Lebanon, India, Ceylon, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan, including a description of his March 2, 1952, meeting with Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek; and his 1954-55 trip with Floyd Keck (folder 1-11) to England, Switzerland, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Hawaii. An exception is the correspondence in folder 1-10, which is concerned almost entirely with housing arrangements for his 1953 trip to Europe. This folder does have a complete copy of his itinerary for the trip.
Accruals and Additions
The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Muriel Victoria (Wright) Evans and Elizabeth Evans in 1986 and 1994.
Accession 86-106, 86-107, 94-58
February 1, 2000
Updated, May 26, 2000
- American Council of Christian Churches.
- Christian Beacon (Periodical)
- Christian and Missionary Alliance.
- Church work with students -- United States.
- Church work with students.
- Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society.
- Dyrness, Enock.
- Evangelical Fellowship of India.
- Evangelicalism -- Asia.
- Evangelicalism -- Belgium.
- Evangelicalism -- Europe.
- Evangelicalism -- France.
- Evangelicalism -- Germany.
- Evangelicalism -- Great Britain.
- Evangelicalism -- Greece.
- Evangelicalism -- India.
- Evangelicalism -- Israel.
- Evangelicalism -- Japan.
- Evangelicalism -- Korea.
- Evangelicalism -- Latin America.
- Evangelicalism -- North America.
- Evangelicalism -- Pakistan.
- Evangelicalism -- Philippines.
- Evangelicalism -- Singapore.
- Evangelicalism -- South America.
- Evangelicalism -- Sri Lanka.
- Evangelicalism -- Switzerland.
- Evangelicalism -- United States.
- Evangelicalism -- Vietnam.
- Evangelistic work -- Congresses
- Evangelistic work -- India.
- Evangelistic work -- Sri Lanka.
- Evangelistic work -- United States.
- Evangelistic work.
- Evans, Elizabeth, 1899-1989.
- Ferrin, Howard W.
- Ferrin, Howard William -- Sermons.
- First Fruits Harvesters Association.
- Fuller Theological Seminary.
- Fuller, Charles Edward, 1887-1968.
- Gremmels, Charles E.
- India-Ceylon Youth for Christ.
- Interdenominational cooperation -- United States.
- Interdenominational cooperation.
- International relief $x Religious aspects $x Christianity.
- McIntire, Carl, 1906-2002.
- Missions -- Caribbean Area.
- Missions -- Cuba.
- Missions -- Europe.
- Missions -- Haiti.
- Missions -- India.
- Missions to Jews.
- National Association of Evangelicals.
- New England Fellowship.
- Ockenga, Harold John, 1905-1985.
- Orphans -- Germany.
- Rees, Paul S.
- Refugees -- Europe.
- Rodeheaver, Homer A. (Homer Alvan), 1880-1955.
- Taylor, Clyde W.
- West Indies Mission.
- Woman's Union Missionary Society of America.
- World Evangelical Fellowship.
- Wright, J. Elwin.
- Wright, Joel Adams.
- Collection 565 Ephemera of J. Elwin Wright
- Bob Shuster
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Roman Script