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Collection 015 Ephemera of Billy Graham

 Collection
Identifier: CN 015

Scope and Contents

Collection contains materials gathered by the archivist relating to Billy Graham's life and early ministry. Includes miscellaneous correspondence to Ray Schulenberg, Richard, Mouw, and Charles Fuller, among others. Also includes a copy of Peace with God annotated by Ruth Bell Graham, which she revised for a second edition in 1984.

Of particular interest is a scrapbook kept by Graham during his attendance at Florida Bible Institute and Wheaton College. The Archives only has a photocopy of the pages of this scrapbook. The original is held by the Billy Graham Archive & Research Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Taped in the scrapbook were articles, programs, photos, and other memorabilia of services at which Dr. Graham preached. Also taped in the book is a newspaper article on and a photograph of his class (1940) at the Institute, and a photograph of Ponzi Parrington, who served as Billy Graham's song leader during his Florida Bible Institute days.

The collection also contains letters Graham wrote to his family, particularly his parents and his wife in box 4. These start with a letter home about 1934 as a teenage summer camp counselor (folder 4-1) through 1962 (folder 4-19), and then one last folder for 2014, which contains brief, affectionate letters to his two sisters (folder 4-20). Generally, these letters contain what one would expect in letters to family – brief descriptions of his current activities; mention what is happening with himself, his wife Ruth and their children; requests for family news; holiday greetings; references to his Christian faith and his preaching activities; descriptions of sights he saw on his travels; his medical difficulties; and mentions of friends and local events. Many letters reflect his belief in his evangelistic calling and his joy in being an instrument for the saving of souls. Except for his discussion of his medical difficulties, the letters are generally very upbeat. Most of these letters are from Graham. However, a few from his sister Jean to their parents when she was with her husband Leighton Ford while they were part of the team for a BGEA evangelistic campaign. There is one detailed letter folder 4-14 in which Graham’s secretary Luverne Gustavson wrote his sister Jean at Graham’s direction to give her news of his 1955 Scotland meetings. Finally the collection includes a few general circulation letters sent out to supporters with information about a particular campaign. Graham apparently sent these to his family for their information (folder 4-7) contains stationary from the first of the only two pastorates he ever held, Wheaton’s United Gospel Tabernacle.

Among the interesting items in these letters is a reference to what was apparently Graham’s first preaching event while he was a student at Bob Jones College in Tennessee—"Mother, I preached to about 75 people this morning and taught a Sunday School class of 25” (folder 4-2); his relations with his first serious girlfriend Emily Cavanaugh (folder 4-4); his deepening relationship with Ruth Bell—"…I know what it means to be in love and I think Ruth does too” (folder 4-6); his strongly expressed preference for his sister Jean to go to Wheaton College rather than Bob Jones University (folder 4-11); vivid description of his visit to the area around Victoria Falls during his 1960 Africa tour (folder 4-17); mention of the Tchividjians family in Switzerland, which daughter Gigi was later to marry into (folder 4-17); a vivid description of the riot that followed his speaking to the legislature in Venezuela in 1962 (folder 4-19).

As mentioned above, several letters contain brief comments by Graham about his evangelistic campaigns. Among the meetings described are those of Rockford, Illinois, in 1943 (folder 4-7), Youth for Christ rallies in the United States and Canada in 1945 (folder 4-8); Great Britain YFC tour in 1946 and 1947 (folders 4-9, 4-10); the YFC meetings in Paris, France in 1946 (folder 4-10); the London Crusade of 1954 (folder 4-13); the Scotland tour of 1955 (folder 4-14); the Australia meetings of 1959, especial that of Sydney (folder 4-16); the Nigeria tour of 1960 (folder 4-17); the Manchester, England meetings of 1961 (folder 4-18); and the South American meetings in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay in 1962 (folder 4-19). Folder 2-3 contains a variety of miscellaneous letters gathered from various sources: two photocopies of letters (1950 and 1958) to Ray Schulenberg about the possibility of an evangelistic meetings in Moline and Chicago, Illinois; correspondence just after the 1957 New York Crusade in which Graham discusses his policy of cooperating with churches in his evangelistic meetings, as long as they placed no restrictions on his message; Graham’s 1962 response to a condolence note on the death of his father; a letter to Fuller Seminary president Richard Mouw agreeing to serve on an anniversary committee for the seminary; drafts of the letter Graham wrote to the planners of the Moscow anti-nuclear weapons conference which he attended in 1982; a 2002 photocopy of a letter to Wheaton College, commending the humanitarian work of the rock musical Bono.

There is a good deal of correspondence with evangelist Charles Fuller in folder 2-4. All the materials in this folder are photocopies of documents sent to the Archives by the archives of Fuller Theological Seminary. The letters include Graham asking for help with the starting of the magazine Christianity Today, his responses to requests for help from Fuller with Fuller Seminary, and their comments on and participation in each other’s ministry.

Folders 4-23 and 4-24 contain programs, invitations, and other materials from his graduations from high school (1936) and newspaper clippings in folder 4-26 cover his election as president of Wheaton College’s Christian Council while he was a student and early speaking engagements. A program for Graham’s talk to the Harvard Law Forum in 1962, but not the talk itself, is in folder 4-27; responders to his talk include Richard Niebuhr and Harold John Ockenga. A brief talk on the new birth that he gave in 1960 to the United Christian Council in Israel is in folder 2-29. An incomplete transcript of a talk he gave to the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Religious Broadcasters joint meeting is in folder 2-28. A video of the sermon Rev. Graham gave at the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C., after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, is in the collection on video V2, which the Archives has in video form only.

Folder 4-26 contains a typed transcript of a brief Mother’s Day message by Morrow Graham, Billy Graham’s mother that appeared in a publication she called “the Journal.”

Some of the items reflect Ruth Graham’s participation in her husband’s ministry. Folder 2-2 contains a copy of Graham’s 1953 book Peace With God with her handwritten notes, apparently in preparation for a possible revision of the book. The Archives also has, in the form of digital copies, a letter Mrs. Graham wrote about her and Billy’s first married home in Hinsdale, Illinois, and a 1944 picture of her in front of that home.

Folder 3-6 contains the program for Graham's funeral service and related materials, as well as a book of condolences from international students at Wheaton College who had received scholarships through the Billy Graham Center. Video V2 in this collection is of the funeral (digital format only).

Dates

  • Created: 1934-2014

Conditions Governing Access

Researchers will use copies of the original documents in box 4, made by the Archives staff.

Extent

1.987 Linear Feet (Types of materials: 4 Boxes (3DC); Audio Tape, Film, Photographs, Videos))

4 Boxes

1 Audio Tape

1 Film

2 Videos

Language of Materials

English

Accruals and Additions

The material in this collection was received from many different sources between 1975 and 2021. The letters in Box 4 of this collection were deposited with the Archives by Jean Graham Ford.

Accession 75-16, 81-92, 86-3, 86-69, 97-3, 97-57, 97-69, 98-13, 00-07, 02-73, 06-13, 06-24

June 3, 1976

Robert Shuster

Updated: June 22, 2001

Robert Shuster

Acc.: 06-13

Updated: May 16, 2006

Bob Shuster

Acc, 02-73, 06-24

Updated: January 26, 2010

Bob Shuster

Acc. 11-13

Updated: March 3, 2011

Bob Shuster

Acc. 18-17, 18-18

Updated: May 8, 2018

Bob Shuster

Acc. 09-60, 11-04, 15-34, 17-14, 17-43, 18-08, 18-10, 21-46, 22-27, 22-28

June 16, 2022

Bob Shuster

M. Smoak

Title
Collection 015 Papers of Billy Graham
Author
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Billy Graham Center Archives Repository

Contact:
501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US
630-752-5910