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Collection 210 Records of World Bible Study Fellowship

Identifier: CN 210

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, newsletters, minutes of meetings, correspondence course, photos, registers, address lists, and account books, and other materials related to the work of the WBSF, which included publishing and distribution of Bible studies for use around the world in prisons, hospitals, and leper colonies, and for use of missionaries and national Christian workers.

[NOTE: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "folder 1-1" means box 1, folder 1.]

Folder titles and arrangement were supplied by the archivist. The content of the collection deals mainly with the reactions of users of the Bible course, with additional significant information on the operation of the Fellowship, Christian evangelism in different parts of the world, and jail ministry.

A large part of the collection consists of correspondence. Most of this is from prisoners and others who used the Bible course and were writing with questions or to describe how it had helped them. Mrs. Wang, the Waynes, and the St. Johns corresponded with a large number of users and former users of the program, but none of their correspondence is in the collection. Of particular interest are the letters from evangelists, pastors, and other Christian workers in Nigeria, describing various church activities there (folder 2-6). Folders 2-8 through 2-24 consist of letters from prisoners and prison chaplains. Besides thanking WBSF for the Bible studies, these letters, censored of course by the prison administration, often contain descriptions of prison life and the letter writers' personal histories and testimonies of their faith. Folder 2-16 contains a prisoners newsletter from a prison in Lansing, Kansas.

The newsletters sent out by the Fellowship (folder 3-2) contain many more testimonies as well as descriptions of evangelistic work in the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria, and many other countries in addition to quotes from letters from inmates in prisons and reformatories. Many of the quotes are statements of faith by poor people with little formal education. Additional information on prison ministry can be found in folder 3-3, which contains two 1930s copies of The Jail Evangelist, a newsletter put out by the United Jail Workers of Los Angeles; an article from the Sunday School Times about the Bible course; clippings about activities of individuals converted through Mrs. Wang's work, such as Benito Acena, who became dean of the Luzon Bible Institute, and Roger Neri, who founded the Metro-Manila Bible School and Seminary.

There are a great many documents with information on how WBSF was run, including incorporation materials (folder 2-27), account books (folders 1-1 through 1-4), address lists including a list of prison chaplains in the United States (folder 1-5), minutes of the Board of Directors (folders 2-29, 3-1), registers of literature sent out (folders 3-5, 3-6), and registers of certificates awarded (folder 3-4). Folder 2-25 contains various language editions of the Bible course itself.


  • Created: 1935-1982

Conditions Governing Access

No names of prisoners found in documents in this collection may be published in any way.

Historical Information

The World Bible Study Fellowship grew out of the prison visitation ministry of Mrs. Josephine Aurora Wang in Los Angeles. During her visits to local jails as a volunteer with the Los Angeles Jail Workers Association to help inmates and talk to them about the Christian faith, she became concerned because there were no simple, basic Bible study workbooks which she could give to new converts and the curious. In 1934, with a friend's help, she wrote and typed up such a booklet herself. Over the years, it grew into a set of four booklets entitled Bible Course For New Christians. Other people involved in jail ministry around the country heard about the booklets and began to request copies.

Other requests came from overseas as indigenous Christian workers and missionaries heard stories about the course's effectiveness. The course was translated into Spanish, French and the Indian language Gujarati. A collection of Bible verses compiled and distributed by Mrs. Wang was printed in Spanish and Portuguese. In addition to sending out the courses, Mrs. Wang also began a brief newsletter that went out to people interested in her work. It consisted mainly of quotes from letters she had received from Christians in North America, South America, Africa, and Asia about the different ways the course was being used and church work in different parts of the world.

Contributions to the work were at first made to the Go Ye Fellowship, which gave them to Mrs. Wang. In 1948, the work was incorporated in California under the name World Bible Study Fellowship as a nonprofit corporation to which tax-deductible gifts could be made. Mrs. Wang, her son Hanley Wayne, her daughter-in-law Catherine, and family friend Berea St. John (later Mrs. Virgil Feiner) made up the board of directors. After the death of Mrs. Wang in 1955, Mrs. Jennie St. John served as director until her death in 1971. In 1982, the Waynes decided that, because of their age and physical limitations, they could no longer handle the work of the Fellowship and the corporation was dissolved. The Know Your Bible Fellowship was given the right to distribute the English and French versions of the course and Christ's Gospel Outreach the right to distribute the Spanish version. By the time of dissolution, the course had been distributed in eighty countries besides the hundreds of prisons where it was being used in the United States. Outside the States, it was used in many institutional and non-institutional situations besides prisons. An individual who completed the series of questions in the books was awarded a certificate.


3 Boxes

14 Photograph Files

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The material in this collection was given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Berea Feiner in April and May of 1982.

Accessions 82-54, 82-68

July 5, 1985

Robert Shuster

S. Averill J. Nasgowitz

Separated Materials

The following item has been transferred to the BGC Museum:

Accession: 82-54

One seal press for the World Bible Study Fellowship Seal reads: "WORLD BIBLE STUDY FELLOWSHIP/CALIFORNIA/INCORPORATED MAY 5, 1948." Black. Approximately 5" x 2" x 5". Weighs 3 pounds, 10 ounces.

Collection 210 Records of World Bible Study Fellowship
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