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Collection 225 Records of the Baptista Film Mission

Identifier: CN 225

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, diaries, newsletters, scripts, catalogs, films, and other material related to the work of the Baptista Film Mission. This collection contains much information on the beginnings of the Protestant evangelical Christian film industry. Included are films featured are evangelical and fundamentalist figures like V. Raymond Edman, Billy Graham, Henry A. Ironside, Bob Jones Jr., Paul Rader, Oswald J. Smith, and Walter Wilson and nondenominational organizations. Subjects documented include those related to missions and evangelism, motion picture production and presentation, and the subjects of the films.

Correspondence, diaries, newsletters, scripts, catalogs, films, and other material related to the work of the company founded by Charles O. Baptista to produce motion picture projection equipment and evangelistic films. This collection contains much information on the beginnings of the Christian film industry.


  • Created: 1908-1977
  • Majority of material found in 1939-1963

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Founded: May 18, 1942 by Charles Octavio Baptista

Headquarters Location:

1942-1947 - 325 West Huron Street, Chicago, Illinois.

1947-1965? - 434 Sunnyside Avenue, Wheaton, Illinois

Executive Officer

1942-1965? - C. O. Baptista, President

Other Significant Employees

Severi Anderson, head of the animation department

Maxwell A. Kerr

Stephen Platt

Significant Events in Organizational History

1939 - Baptista became interested in using films as a teaching aide in churches and produced Story of a Fountain Pen with the help of several friends.

1942 - During the early years of World War II, 16mm motion picture projectors were in short supply, so Baptista expanded his business, in conjunction with the DeVry Corporation, to include the exporting of projectors and Spanish language films

Early 1940s - The Miracle Projector developed by Kerr and Platt, in response to a wartime shortage. The company began producing mainly English language films, although there were several in other languages.

Mid 1940s - Production began on projectors.

1952 - The company began work on a filmstrip projector (which would play both a filmstrip and a reel of synchronized audio tape) called the Tel-n-See. Work on 16mm moving image films ceased and the company began to produce filmstrips for Tel-N-See.

Ca. 1955 - Work on Tel-N-See productions virtually ceased

1961 - Income from films could not keep up with the funds spent on the equipment development projects, forcing the company into debt. Non-religious sales and distribution of the Tel-n-see projectors were turned over to a group of Christian businessmen who formed the Audiomatic Visual Equipment Company.

ca. 1965 - The financial situation continued to decline and the company was dissolved shortly after Baptista's death.

Ministry Emphasis

The focus of the company's work was to produce 16mm films for use in churches and Christian organizations as teaching and evangelism aides and for evangelization among secular audiences. The different types of films which were produced included Christian dramatization, missions documentaries, sermon films, gospel musicals, animated stories, children's films, and instructional films on the Christian life and witnessing. The company also produced affordable projectors for motion pictures and filmstrips that could be used by churches and Christian organizations.

Geographical Emphasis

Mostly in the United States, but had customers in other English and Spanish speaking countries, also Sweden

Alternate Names

Company was originally called the Scriptures Visualized Institute. The name was later changed to the C. O. Baptista Film Mission and then to Baptista Film Mission.

Other Significant Information

1895 - Charles Octavia Baptista was born to Octavia and Nicita Baptista in San Cristobal, Venezuela.

1909 - Baptista came to the United States for his education

ca. 1915 - Baptista began selling pianos by mail to customers in Latin America for the Kimball Piano Company of Chicago, Illinois.

Ca. 1920s - Baptista accepted Christ as his saviour and began attending the Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church.

The Baptista company was especially active in animation.


12.42 Cubic Feet (2 Boxes (DC), Audio Tapes, Films, Filmstrips, Negative, Photographs, Video Tapes)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

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

The records in this collection include catalogs, correspondence, diaries, newsletters, news clippings, tracts, scripts, audio tapes, photographs, films, filmstrips, and video tapes. Almost all of the material in the collection was produced by the Baptista Film Mission and either document the history of the mission or the broader theme of the use of films and filmstrips for evangelism and Christian education.

Series I: Paper Records

Arrangement: The folders are arranged alphabetically according to folder title (folder titles were supplied by the Archives staff). The materials within each folder are arranged chronologically.

Date Range: 1943-1963, 1977

Volume: .6 cubic feet

Boxes: 1-2

Geographic coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Scripts, catalogs, company diaries, clippings and articles, catalogs, brochures, tracts

Correspondents: C. O. Baptista, Maxwell Kerr

Subjects: History of the Baptista Film Mission, use of film by missions, evangelistic ministries, and churches, Protestant Evangelical theology and methods of presenting the Gospel

Notes: Most of the materials in this series cover the production and distribution of the films and filmstrips made by the company. Folders 1-1 and 1-2 contain various catalogs of the films and projectors that the company produced. This includes lists of Spanish language films, which were a specialty of the company in its early years.

Several of the scripts for films and film strips are in folders 1-8 through 1-43, with additions or changes penciled in the margins. There are penciled notes for one Tel-N-See script in folder 2-4. The company produced film and synchronized filmstrip projectors that would be reliable, yet inexpensive enough to be purchased by churches. The film projector came with a guarantee that it would be good until the Second Coming of Christ. A copy of the guarantee and more detailed information about the film and filmstrip projectors can be found in folders 2-2 and 2-6.

The printed diaries, entitled Hitherto has the Lord Helped Us, in folders 1-5 through 1-7 consist of short entries about daily events in the company or reactions from film users, with many examples of how the films were used for Christian ministry. Folder 1-5 contains Baptista's handwritten diary which served as the basis for the 1945 printed diary. The tracts in folder 1-43 were published by the company. One of them, Confessions of a Business Man, tells the story of Baptista's life and the early years of the film mission. A copy of the Dunn and Bradstreet rating of the company in its early years is in folder 2-3.

Correspondence in folders 1-3 consist of letters between C. O. Baptista and Robert F. Jones. Jones apparently had donated and invested money in the company and was trying to help the company remain solvent by advising Baptista on financial matters. Folder 1-4 contains a few other letters, including one from Maxwell Kerr written long after the company dissolved about the origins of the Miracle Projector.

There are also a few newspaper and magazine clippings about the work of the company in folders 1-11 and 2-1.

Series II: Audio-Visual Materials

Arrangement: Films and filmstrips are generally in alphabetical order

Date Range: 1908, 1939-1955

Volume: 11.82 cubic feet Geographic coverage: United States, China, Israel, Philippines, Indo-China, Mexico

Type of Documents: Films, filmstrips, audio tapes, photographs

Subjects: Christian evangelism, evangelistic music, Christian life, Bible memorization, Christian foreign missions

Notes: The individual items are described in the Location Records. Audio tapes T1a, T2a, T4a have no connection at all with Baptista Film but were included in a gift to the Archives that included Baptista material.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Ken Anderson Films. Maxwell Kerr, Robert Baptista, Donald Dunkelberger, moody Bible Institute, Dan Mullin, and Joseph Bridges in March 1981; by Maxwell A. Kerr from 1981 to 2000. Duplicate materials were given to Regent University in Virginia in May 2003.

Accession 81-22, 81-145, 81-153, 82-5, 82-15, 82-16, 82-45, 83-1, 83-6

May 6, 1983

Robert Shuster

G. P. Lynch

G. Wilson

J. Nasgowitz

Accession: 88-22, 88-119, 93-49, 94-02, 94-16, 94-46, 95-61, 95-76, 99-68, 00-50

May 27, 2003

Bob Shuster

J. Dennison

Accession 13-15

March 26, 2013

Bob Shuster

Collection 225 Records of the Baptista Film Mission
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