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Collection 329 Papers of Louis and Phil Palermo

Identifier: CN 329

Scope and Contents

Articles, audio tapes, clippings, correspondence, films, phonograph records, photo albums, photographs, video tapes and wire recordings of Louis and Phil Palermo, musical evangelists with Chicago Midnight Brigade and Youth for Christ. The collection highlights the Palermos' musical ministry in the United States and other parts of the world, especially Italy and Vietnam, predominantly from the early-1940s to the 1980s; also includes assorted information about evangelical figures and activities, including the 1956 deaths of five American missionaries in Ecuador.


  • Created: 1924-1984

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Louis Adolph Palermo

Birth: February 14, 1915, Melrose Park, Illinois

Death: September 26, 2002, Minneapolis, Minnesota


Parents: Antonio and Josephine (Vita) Palermo

Siblings: Older siblings: Alex, Carl, Victor, Ann, Rocco; younger siblings: George, Philip, Dominic

Marital Status: Married Immogene “Jeanne” Skogman, August 18, 1943, Cambridge, Minnesota

Children: David, Daniel, Dianne, Douglas, Dean

Conversion: At about age 13

Biography of Philip Thomas Palermo:

Full Name: Philip Thomas Palermo

Birth: August 23, 1918, Melrose Park, Illinois

Death: September 27, 2003, Lake Forest, California


Parents: Antonio and Josephine (Vita) Palermo

Siblings: Older siblings: Alex, Carl, Victor, Ann, Rocco, Louis, George, younger brother: Dominic

Marital Status: Married Edythe “Edee” Mildred Fjellman, January 30, 1943, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Children: Darlene, Phyllis (Palermo) Swanson

Conversion: At age 10

Joint Career of Louis & Phil Palermo:

1938-1940s: Part of the Chicago Midnight Brigade with Floyd and Joe Ankerberg and Dave Biasco

Jan.-May 1938: Muskegon, Michigan, sixteen week evangelistic meetings which began their full-time ministry

1943-1950s: Palermo Four ministry (Louis and Jean, Phil and Edee)

Oct. 1947- Feb. 1948: YFC evangelistic tour of Italy including Cantanzaro, Naples, Palermo (Sicily), Rome and other towns

1947-1982: On staff of Youth for Christ as evangelists

1948: Attended the YFC World Congress on Evangelism in Beatenberg, Switzerland

1950: Attended the YFC World Congress on Evangelism in Brussels, Belgium

1952: Attended the YFC World Congress on Evangelism in Belfast, Ireland

1953: Attended the YFC World Congress on Evangelism in Tokyo, Japan

1955: Attended the YFC World Congress on Evangelism in Brazil

1956: Attended the Youth Congress on Evangelism in Venezuela

n.d.: Delegate to YFC Congress in Denmark

1963: Visited the Wuaorani (formerly known as Auca) Indians of Ecuador

1966: Participated in the BGEA Great London Crusade

1967: Evangelistic trip to Vietnam

1968: Evangelistic trip to Vietnam

1969: Evangelistic trip to Vietnam

1970: Evangelistic trip to Vietnam

1972: Evangelistic trip to Vietnam

1972: Participated in a crusade in Cambodia sponsored by World Vision

1974: Participated in the BGEA Rio de Janeiro Crusade

Other significant information:

Authored: A Modern Miracle of Conversion: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Family’s Redemption (ca. 1943), Life With the Palermos(1957) and ‘Atsa Louie - I’ma Phil (1975)


3.65 Cubic Feet (2 Boxes (2 DC), Audio Tapes, Films, Negatives, Oversize Materials, Phonograph Records, Photo Albums, Photographs, Video Tapes, Wire Recordings)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

Audio Visual Materials

Arrangement: Chronological by date of material

Date Range: 1940-1979

Volume: 1.77 cubic feet

Geographic coverage: Italy, United States

Type of documents: Audio tapes, films, phonograph records, video tapes, wire tapes

Subjects: Evangelism, music in ministry

Notes: These materials record the evangelistic ministry of the Palermo Brothers in the United States and other countries especially Italy and Vietnam.

Exceptional items: Several audio tapes (T9, T11, T12, T13, T19) contain reports of the Palermo Brother’s evangelistic trips to Vietnam. On tape T9 Phil Palermo mentions that about twenty years ago Torrey Johnson and Billy Graham laid hands on him and Louis and commissioned them as the first YFC team to go to Italy. Palermo’s report on tape T11 includes a recording of an interview with Vietnam missionary of Rick Bremmen’s telling about the massacre of a village. Tape continues with a narration of slides (which the Archives does not have) of the 1967 Tokyo International Crusade and of Vietnam. The report on tape T12 (3rd trip which was sponsored by World Vision) was possibly given at a BGEA chapel. Palermo tells of Billy Graham’s 1968 visit to Vietnam and continues with a narration of a slide show (the Archives does not have the slides). On tape T13 Phil Palermo gave a report which was broadcasted over radio station WPEL in which he was also interviewed by Douglas Roe (spelling?) President of Montrose Broadcasting Corp., PA. The tape includes audio clips reports from Vietnam. The Palermo’s 4th Vietnam trip report is given on tape T19 at an Sunday night service at the Wheaton Free Church. The tape includes audio clips of United States Army soldiers singing and a church altar call at the end. The box containing tape T21 had the following note written on it: “Dear Mel- Here is the tape we promised you. God is doing great things, wish you were here- Be sure to call Edee and Jeanne before you play this tape- Bye now- Phil & Louie.” The program bulletin for Jerome Hines’ concert is in folder 1-2. See the location records for more information on these materials.

Paper Records (Box List)

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1924-1984

Volume: 1.88 cubic feet

Boxes: 2

Geographic coverage: Guatemala, Italy, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

Type of documents: Clippings, correspondence, diaries, negatives, photo albums, photographs, posters

Correspondents: Cliff Barrows, Percy Crawford, Peter Deyneka, Ted Engstrom, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Col. Jim Irwin (astronaut), Torrey Johnson, Jay Kesler, Frederick Martin Lehman, W. Stanley Mooneyham, Richard M. Nixon, Bob Pierce, Oswald J. Smith, Walter H. Smyth, Harvey H. Springer, Axel J. Thorwall (field secretary of The Evangelical Free Church of America)

Subjects: American evangelism, conversion, evangelism, music in ministry, YFC history

Notes: The archivist arranged the materials in alphabetical order since they were received in no particular order. This collection highlights the evangelistic ministry of musicians Louis and Phil Palermo first with the Chicago Midnight Brigade and later with Youth for Christ. There is information on their evangelistic trips to Italy, Vietnam, and especially the United States including work with Italian prisoners of war in the United States. For a description of the negatives, photo albums, and photographs please see the Location Record pages in another part of this guide.

Exceptional items: The beginning of the Palermo ministry is described in the book A Modern Miracle of Conversion: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Family’s Redemption by the Palermos in folder 1-1. It tells the story of the conversion of their Uncle Ben Palermo followed by the conversion and healing of their mother, Josephine Palermo, and eventually the entire Palermo family. The book also describes the beginning of the ministry of the Palermo brothers.

•    Folder 1-6 contains correspondence from Percy Crawford (June 19, 1950) thanking Phil and Louis for appearing on the Youth on the March television program (see video tape V17 in CN357), Frederick Martin Lehman (June 31, 1947), author of the hymn, The Love of God, including a two-page note on the circumstance surrounding the of writing the hymn, Harvey H. Springer (March 26, 1948) of the Western Voice informing the Palermos that they were no longer invited to speak at his tabernacle because they became associated with Youth for Christ (see the March 19, 1948 issue of the Western Voice newspaper in folder1-5), and a financial report from the 1948 Beatenberg Youth for Christ World Congress attached to a YFC letter dated November 12, 1948.

•    In folder 1-7 there is a photocopy of a letter (July 23, 1966) from Billy Graham in which he thanks the Palermos for their participation in the Greater London Crusade. There are also many letters from Phil to his wife reporting of the ministry he and Louie were having with the American troops in Vietnam. In President Nixon’s letter (June 30, 1969) he thanks the Palermos for their letter, photographs and prayers for Nixon’s recent meeting with South Vietnam’s President Nguyen Van Thieu. Nixon mentions his pleasure at being at the Billy Graham Pittsburgh Crusade the previous September.

•    Folder 1-8 contains a letter (May 1, 1973) from The White House social secretary to Mr. & Mrs. Edward Ernisse about their request for the Palermo Brothers to participate at a Worship Service. In the same folder are several letters from Phil to his wife about their 1972 Vietnam trip, a 1970 Vietnam trip report, and a letter (Sept. 16, 1981) from Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse asking for prayer and thanking Phil and Edee for their support.

•    Phil Palermo’s diary (a small appointment book) for 1943 in folder 2-1, documents his wedding on January 30 and Louis’ wedding on August 18. Some of the Palermo’s ministries were: visiting an Italian prisoner of war camp (August 24), tent meetings in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (May 31), churches, Sunday school and children’s meetings, radio broadcasts and the Salvation Army meetings. The Palermo’s were very busy as the last entry in the book indicated they had “536 meetings.” Also in the same folder is a diary which is labeled as being the “Property of the Palermo Bros.” No identification is given as to which of the brothers wrote entries in the diary. It covers the period from October 14, 1947 to February 17, 1948 and gives information on the Palermo’s YFC evangelistic trip to Italy. The December 31, 1947 entry gives an idea of the extent of the Palermo’s ministry, “Had 41 meetings to date. 78 days in Italy to date. 82 days since left Mpls [Minneapolis]-scores of souls saved in rallies and homes etc.”

•    Phil Palermo’s “travel” diary (October 12, 1947-February 17, 1948) in folder 2-2 contains a list of places they visited and a travel chart on a world map tracing their trip to and from Italy. It documents the trip the Palermo Brothers took to Italy for Youth for Christ. The daily entries describe their travels in Italy and ministry in various cities. The poor social conditions (poverty, lack of food and housing) caused by World War II are seen in several entries (Oct. 22-23, 1947). Many evangelistic meetings the Palermo’s participated in are also documented. Phil describes the meeting in Catanzaro with these words, “had greatest meeting. 70 people packed small living room-great spirit of conviction prevailed-several conversions the revival is on” (November 2, 1947). In Rome on January 27, 1948 Phil wrote, “Had great rally in Methodist Church. 500 people present about 12 raised hands to be saved.” Torrey Johnson arrived in Rome (January 28, 1948) and conducted a “great rally-500 people present-20 saved-God did it again...” This diary and the one in folder 2-1 mention the taking of movies during their trip (see the location records for some of these films). In the same folder is a thin diary with entries about the Palermos’ visit to Guatemala, including a description of an attempted coup d’état and a Christian parade and rally held in a stadium during this time.

•    There are many miscellaneous advertisements for meetings (several for Minneapolis YFC meetings) that the Palermos participated in including some with their wives in folder 1-2. A variety of newspaper clippings about the Palermo meetings are in folder 1-5. The Evening News, London, June 1, 1966 issue, contains information about Billy Graham’s Greater London Crusade. There are many magazine clippings in folder 1-4 with articles by or about the Palermos. Some of the magazines represented are Campus Life, Decision, and Youth for Christ. Another folder (2-4) contains magazine clippings with articles about Billy and Ruth Graham, Rachel Saint and her work with the Wuaorani Indians, Dr. Bob Pierce, Dr. Robert Schuller, Charles Colson, Evie Tornquist, Kathryn Kuhlman, Aimee Semple McPherson, and General Douglas MacArthur. There is also a copy of the May 1945 issue of the Foursquare magazine. In folder 1-3 thee are several magazines with articles about the so-called Auca martyrs (five American missionaries martyred in Ecuador in 1956).

•    Some miscellaneous items in folder 2-3 include memorial service brochures for Louis, Phil, and Edythe Palermo, an article about Phil’s life and ministry from the The Orange County Register, a memorial brochure for George L. Edstrom of the BGEA, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan” tract by Jacob Deshazer, advertisement for a Gipsy Smith meeting, a program from Jerome Hines’ 1961 YFC concert (see audio tapes T1 - T4), postcard from the Old Fashioned Revival Hour, 700 Club fact sheet about the Palermos, Cambodia crusade tentative travel plans, program bulletin for the 1950 YFC World Congress on Evangelism in Brussels, Belgium, biography of Palermos and report on trip to Vietnam, photocopy of invitation by President of the Republic of Vietnam (Nguyen Van Thieu) for the Palermos to attend a reception at the Independence Palace, schedule of meetings, sermon notes, report titled “Seven Days with The Palermo Four,” report on 4th Vietnam trip, autographed sheet music of Stuart Hamblen’s song This Ole House, Palermo Christmas greetings, Alhambra Christian Assembly (California) church bulletin (Dec. 9, 1973) with information on the founding of the church under the influence of Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Palermo, and materials about Jack Shuler and his 1954 crusade in Belfast, Ireland include a souvenir brochure and newspaper clippings.

•    An oversize folder (OS 25) contains twelve posters of various meeting at which the Palermos appeared are written in English and other languages (Italian, Korean, Spanish, etc.). Several are for YFC meetings held in Italy, Korea, and Asian countries. Also included is a 1938 Chicago Midnight Brigade poster for meetings in Springfield, Missouri.

Accruals and Additions

The material in this collection wasgiven to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Louis and Phil Palermo in April and July 1984.

Accession: 84-50, 84-94

December 21, 2006

Wayne D. Weber

J. Anderson

K. Hayward

Collection 329 Papers of Louis and Phil Palermo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US