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Collection 224 Papers of J. Stratton Shufelt

 Collection
Identifier: CN 224

Scope and Contents

Reports, correspondence, newspaper clippings, handbills, photographs, and other ephemera relating to J. Stratton Shufelt's evangelistic activities as a speaker and song leader for Youth for Christ, Jack Shuler, John R. Rice, Harry Ironside and others, and as a performer or teacher at Bible conferences and other events. This collection also contains information on the Wheaton College Revival of 1950.

Dates

  • Created: 1908-1982
  • Majority of material found in 1924-1982

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection

Biographical Information

John Stratton Shufelt was born in Yorkville, Illinois, in 1910, and came to the Lord ten years later. He attended Wheaton Community High School and then Wheaton Academy before going on to a short career in radio and theater. He began singing while a child as a soloist for the Chicago Children's Chorus and later, as a junior in high school, he won a gold medal in the Illinois State Baritone Contest. After high school, he began his two-year career in radio and theater, singing light opera and playing roles in "The Desert Song" and "No, No, Nannette."

One day, while on a train returning home from an engagement at the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was convinced by an old friend of the family, Professor R. L. Park, to give up his promising career to use his talents for the Lord. In the 1930's, he entered Wheaton College to prepare for his career in Christian work. He was a member of the Wheaton College Quintet, which traveled all across the country and was highly acclaimed. After graduating, he also studied at the University of Illinois and the Sherwood School of Music in Chicago. In addition, he taught at the Central School of Music.

"Strat" Shufelt went on to serve as pastor's assistant and music director at two Chicago churches. He spent three years at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church on Chicago's south side under A. W. Tozer. The next eight years he spent at the Moody Memorial Church with H. M. Ironside. There he was the youth minister and director of a choir of 300 voices and also of numerous smaller choirs.

In 1937, Shufelt married his college sweetheart, Marjorie Ruth Isel, and they were to have two daughters, Rebecca Joan and Dorothy Ann.

In 1938, he went on a trip through the British Isles with H.M. Ironside of Moody Church on the occasion of the British Moody Centenary observance. They retraced the steps of the earlier trip of Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey. They were well received in Scotland, where it was said of Shufelt that he "would make you sing whether you have a voice or not."

In the mid-1940's, he decided to leave the Moody Church to devote his time to evangelistic campaigns. In 1946, he became a member of the first Youth for Christ evangelistic team to Europe. Other members of the team were Torrey M. Johnson of Chicago, the president of YFC International; Charles "Chuck" Templeton of Toronto, Canada; and William "Billy" Graham of Montreat, North Carolina. Graham's work with YFC was the beginning of his career in evangelistic work. West Hartzell, staff writer for William Randolph Hearst's Chicago Herald-American newspaper, went along as the group's reporter. Over 1000 Chicagoland Youth for Christ members saw them off at the airport for their tour of Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and Holland. Their trip held great successes for Youth for Christ International, with hundreds of people saved and many European Youth for Christ groups started.

After this trip, Shufelt continued his trips to Europe. He traveled with another YFC group to Germany and Holland in 1947. Doug Fisher, Eugene "Gene" Jordan, and Spencer DeJong also participated. In 1957, Shufelt went to the British Youth for Christ Annual Convention in England.

Throughout the rest of his busy career, "Strat" toured the United States with many notable evangelists. He worked with Hyman Appelman, Myron Augsburger, Fred Brown, Torrey Johnson, Eddie Martin, John R. Rice, Jack Shuler, and Bob Wells, as well as singing and speaking on his own at churches and special events. He also was also for many years on the staffs of the Maranatha Bible Conference and the Seminary Bible Conference (a program of the Grand Rapids Bible Seminary) and taught music at the Winona Lake School of Theology. Folder 2-15 contains a brochure about plans to renovate the H. A. Ironside Memorial Library at Dayton College in Tennessee.

Shufelt was the author of two songbooks: Revival Choir and Revival Solos, which contain some of his favorite evangelistic numbers. (Folder 2-16 contains several versions of Revival Choir.) He also made several records for "Singspiration" Records. His life story was told by Basil W. Miller in the book Ten Singers Who Became Famous.

Shufelt died September 22, 1987.

Extent

2 Boxes

1 Reel of microfilm

2 Oversize Files

23 Photograph Files

1 Phonograph Record

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement of Material

[NOTE: In the Arrangement description, the notation Folder 2-5 means Box 2, Folder 5.]

This collection consists mainly of ephemera from J. Stratton Shufelt's many evangelistic rallies. He was best known as a soloist, musician, and song leader, but he also spoke in church as an evangelist and was a teacher of the use of music in evangelism and in church life. The collection contains newspaper clippings, handbills, programs and posters from evangelistic rallies, church services, Bible and missionary conferences, and other special events covering a period of about fifty years. These materials are illustrative not only of Shufelt’s life and ministry but also of Fundamentalist and Evangelical culture in United States in the early and mid-twentieth century. There is also correspondence, mainly from other Christian workers and material from his association with Wheaton College, Moody Church in Chicago, and Maranatha Bible Conference in Michigan. The folders listed in the Box List are arranged alphabetically according to title. As much as possible, the material inside each folder was arranged chronologically, with the undated materials toward the back of the folder. Some of the pieces were dated through internal evidence; these are dated in pencil in the upper right-hand corner. The original order of materials within the folders was for the most part maintained, as well as many of the original folder titles.

Some of Shufelt’s early public performance as a child and a young man with other family members are documented in folder 2-27.

Shufelt valued his days as a student at Wheaton College, for he kept handbills from many of his performances with the Wheaton College Quintet as well as other mementos of his association with the College, such as his certificate of membership in the Aristonian Society, the programs from Shufelt’s senior recital and graduation in 1934, his diplomas, booklets that the alumni office printed containing letters from alumni of his class (’34) and the program from the 1982 funeral service of Wheaton College art professor W. Karl Steele. He also sang at several alumni functions in later years. This material is in folder 1-15. Newspaper clipping about the Quintet are also in folder 2-24 and several complete issues of the college newspaper with articles about Shufelt are in the newspapers folder in the Oversize materials. Folder 1-4 contains College’s and outside newspaper clippings from the revival that occurred at Wheaton in 1950, nearly twenty years after he graduated.

Immediately after graduating from Wheaton, Shufelt became director of music for A. W. Tozer’s Christian and Missionary Alliance Tabernacle in Chicago (folder 2-5). He remained involved with the C&MA all his life. Folder 2-3 contains his certificates as an unordained minister of the denomination. Other C&MA material can be found in folder 2-7. He then performed the same function at the Moody Church in Chicago under Pastor H. A. Ironside, as well as often serving as Ironsides’ song leader in his evangelistic meetings (folders 1-11, 2-18, 2-20, 2-23). Folder 2-20 contains copies of the newsletter he edited for members of the Moody Church choir.

In Shufelt's early days of evangelistic work, he was associated closely with Youth for Christ. In folders 1-16 through 1-18 we find information regarding Shufelt's trip with the first YFC team to Europe, as well as a later trip with YFC leaders to Holland and Germany, and various other items regarding YFC and its beginnings. Wes Hartzell's fairly detailed account of the first trip and Spencer DeJong's letters and reports of the Holland-Germany trip are included in folder 1-17 and in folder 2-11]. Folders 1-16 and 2-26 contain the ephemera of two trips, including interesting European newspaper coverage of the trips. In folder 1-18 we find several publications of YFC and other Christian writers describing the nature and origins of the organization, as well as an article by Wes Hartzell about Billy Graham.

Throughout his career, Shufelt was involved in many rallies with the national spiritual awakening movement called Christ for America. The group began in the early 1940's with city-wide, country-wide, and even state-wide efforts to spread the Gospel. The ephemera from the rallies in which Shufelt was involved are found in the folders entitled "Evangelistic Rallies," followed by the name of the evangelist. Those which could not be classified in this manner are included in folder 2-19 and folder 1-1. Some of his yearlong itineraries from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s can be found in folder 2-27 Folder 2-19 contain brief biographic sketches of him, probably given out as publicity material. Folder 2-18 also contains a series of columns on church music which he wrote for the newsletter Council Fires, a Christian weekly for young people. Magazine and newspaper articles about his appearances covering most of his life can be found in folders 2-18 and 2-21 to 2-25.

Folder 1-2 through 1-10, 2-6 through 2-10, 2-14, 2-19, 2-22 contain materials from Shufelt's many appearances at conventions and evangelistic rallies. He worked with evangelists Hyman Appelman, Myron Augsberger, Fred Brown, Eddie Martin, Jesse Hendley, Torrey Johnson, John R. Rice, Jack Shuler, and Bob Wells. Especially interesting are materials regarding a rally at Folsom Prison in California and a poem called "Memories" by Robert Richter, written about evangelistic rallies with Shufelt.

Folder 1-12 contains materials which Shufelt had marked as miscellaneous that could not be classified under any of the other groupings. One interesting piece is a program from the Ninth Annual Easter Sunrise Service at Soldier Field in Chicago. There is also an advertisement for a jet cruise tour called "Missionary Journey of Paul" led by Shufelt and his wife. Information on other tours he led in the eastern Mediterranean is in folder 2-25. Folder 1-13 contains pamphlets from rescue missions from 1953 to 1979, including the Evansville (Indiana) Rescue Mission, and the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission, Akron, Ohio, and the Mel Trotter Mission, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Bob Jones, Jr. was to begin a week of meetings. In each of the events advertised by the pamphlets, Shufelt was the soloist and choir director.

His appearance at church services as a speaker, teacher or soloist are documented in folders 2-4. He was also a very popular performer at Bible and Missionary Conference s (folder 2-6 and 2-7), especially the annual Seminary Bible Conference of the Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary (folders 2-8 and 2-11), Maranatha (folder 2-9), and Winona Lake Bible Conference (folder 2-10).

There are also a few folders of correspondence in the collection. The contents of the main correspondence folder (2-12) consists largely brief letters to Shufelt, although there are a couple of carbons of letters from him and one to people attending his church music seminar at Maranatha. Folder 2-26 contains some of the teaching materials he used in his church music seminars.) Also of interest is a 1931 postcard he sent his parents about touring with Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club and the front of the card is a picture of Club. There are also a series of letters by a YFC team of which he was a part about their 1947 tour of Holland. The rest of the letters in the folder. But most of the letters in the folder are brief notes of appreciation from evangelists, musicians, and ministers, including Hyman Appelman, William War Ayer, Nathan Bailey, George Bernnard, John E. Brown, Jr., Earle Cairns, Merrill Dunlop, V. R. Edman, Jesse Hendley, Paul S. Rees, Tom Rees, George Sweeting, Warren Wiersbe, and P. J. Zondervan. Of special interest is a letter from Bo Jones Jr. thanking Shufelt for his condolences on the death of Bob Jones Sr. Also of interest is a note from evangelist Helen Cree remembering had Shufelt had been her counselor when she gave her life to Christ as a girl. Folder 2-13 contains appreciation letters from Billy Graham, Cliff Barrow and George Beverly Shea often in these letters reminiscing about previous associations with Shufelt.

Folder 2-13 contains a number of letters from Ironside, many brief friendly message describing his activities. The letter dated November 27, 1946 gives Ironside’s view on the controversy between J. Frank Norris and Lewis Chafer of Dallas Theological Seminary about the proper work of an evangelist. The folder also has a small Atlantic Ocean map on which Shufelt had plotted his and Ironside’s voyage across that ocean to Great Britain in 1938.

The collection contains many photographs of Shufelt and the people he worked with. Most of them are identified and have Shufelt’s comments on the reverse, although many are not dated. The photos are mostly action shots from evangelistic meetings and give us a good idea of what they were like. Some of the photos are portraits or publicity shots, and there are several that are amusing and personal. The photos are described in detail in the collection inventory for photos.

Through the generosity of The Torrey Johnson Evangelistic Crusade and Mr. and Mrs. Torrey M. Johnson, Jr., in 2003 all of Collection 224, box1 put on 35mm microfilm for purposes of preservation and access. This did not include photographs and oversize materials. In 2021, additional material was added to this collection, therefore some of the material the folders 1-3, 1-10, 1-11, 1-15, and all of box 2 are not on the microfilm, which is available for interlibrary loan.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by J. Stratton Shufelt in March, 1982

Accession 82-21

November 11, 1982

Melinda Collins

R. Shuster

J. Nasgowitz

Retyped, Revised June 16, 1993

M.L. Larson

Revised May 20, 2003

Bob Shuster

Accessions 87-7, 87-31, 03-53

Updated March 2, 2021

Bob Shuster
Title
Collection 224 Papers of J. Stratton Shufelt
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

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