Collection 329 Papers of Louis and Phil Palermo
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
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
- Araucanian Indians.
- Barrows, Cliff.
- Big brother (Motion picture)
- Chicago Midnight Brigade.
- Church work with children.
- Evangelistic work -- Guatemala.
- Evangelistic work -- Italy.
- Evangelistic work -- Music.
- Evangelistic work -- North America.
- Evangelistic work -- United States.
- Evangelistic work -- Vietnam.
- Evangelistic work.
- Fuller, Charles Edward, 1887-1968.
- Gospel musicians.
- Graham, Billy, 1918-2018.
- Graham, Franklin, 1952-
- Graham, Ruth Bell.
- Hamblen, Stuart, 1908-1989.
- Harper, Redd, 1903-1992.
- Hines, Jerome, 1921-2003.
- Italian Gospel Association, Inc.
- Johnson, Torrey Maynard, 1909-
- Jones, Clarence W.
- Lehman, F. M. (Frederick Martin), 1868-1953.
- Mr. Texas (Motion picture)
- Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
- PTL Club (Television program)
- Palau, Luis, 1934-
- Palermo, Edythe Mildred.
- Palermo, Immogene.
- Palermo, Louis.
- Palermo, Phil.
- Radio in religion.
- Shea, George Beverly, 1909-2013.
- Shuler, Jack.
- Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975.
- Youth for Christ/USA.
- 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