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Collection 528 Ephemera of Mission Aviation History

Identifier: CN 528

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, prayer letters, audio tapes, clippings, brochures, negatives, photos, and slides collected by former aviator John R. Wells, retired Wheaton College employee, as a result of his interest in the use Christian mission agencies and individual missionaries made of airplanes since their invention. The collection documentation on various denominational and nondenominational organizations and individuals covering the time period 1922 to 1989; represented are such agencies as the Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, Mission Aviation Fellowship, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and individuals such as Paul Carlson, George Fisk, Wally Herron, William Larkins, Fritz Loose, Carl Mortenson, Paul Robinson, Clarence Soderberg, and others. Hundreds of photos and slides depict the airplanes used, pilots, accidents, and other missionary activities.


  • Created: 1922-1989

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Aviator and compiler of historical materials; born January 15, 1929; attended Houghton College and Moody Bible Institute; flew as a pilot for North Central Airlines; employed at Wheaton College (1972-1992).

Full Name: John Roy Wells

Birth Date: January 15, 1929

Birth Place: Riverhead, New York

Parents: Howard and Martha Wells

Marital Status: Married; wife, Geraldine C. Wells. Children, Rebecca and Stephen


1946-1947 - Houghton College, New York

1954-1958 - Aeronautical licences & certificate, Moody Bible Institute


1959-1965 - North Central Airlines

1972-1992 - Wheaton College, Illinois; maintenance mechanic and postmaster

1992 - Retired from Wheaton College


American Aviation Historical Society

Experimental Aircraft Association

DC-3/Dakota Historical Society


2.4 Cubic Feet ( 6 Boxes (DC), Audio Tapes, Negatives, Oversize Material, Photographs, Slides)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

This collection contains materials compiled by John R. Wells which document missionary aviation history. It includes correspondence, brochures, booklets, newspaper and magazine clippings, missionary prayer and newsletters, maps, audio tapes, negatives, photographs, and slides. Dates covered by these materials are 1924 to 1983.

Some of the organizations that Wells collected information about are: the Assemblies of God (folder 1-5); the Royal Flying Doctor Service of the Australian Inland Mission (folder 1-6); Catholic flying missions in Alaska, Bolivia, Laos, New Guinea, the Philippines, and other countries (folders 1-13 through 18); Christian and Missionary Alliance (folder 1-21); Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS)(folders 3-1,2); Mission Aviation Fellowship (folders 4-1 through 4); Moody Bible Institute (folder 5-1); the Salvation Army (folder 5-12); and many others. See the Container List for further listings.

Some of the people whose flying careers are documented include Paul Carlson (folder 1-12); Mrs. Mattie Crawford, a Pentecostal evangelist (folder 2-2); George E. Fisk (folder 2-8); Kenneth J.H. Hearn (folder 2-12); Walter J. Herron (folder 2-14); Rex Humbard (folder 2-15); and others. Folder 5-7 contains manuscripts that were prepared by Wells from the material in the collection.

Negatives, photographs, and slides depict many pilots, missionaries, airplanes, accidents, and missionary activities which show the growth of the use of the airplane for missionary endeavor. Audio tapes are verbal letters which describe the personal experiences of several missionary pilots. See the Location Records for more information.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives by John R. Wells in October 1985, August 1986, June 1987, January 1990, and August 1994.

January 28, 1996

Janyce H. Nasgowitz

T. Harder

Separated Materials

The following items from Accession 85-136 have been given to the Evangelism & Missions Collection, Buswell Library.


Almquist, L. Aarden. Covenant Missions in Alaska. Chicago, IL: Covenant Press, 1962.

Bilton, John. The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia: Its Origin, Growth, and Development. Sydney, Australia: Halstead Press, 1961.

Jonson, Jonas. Lutheran Missions in a Time of Revolution: The China Experience 1944-1951. Uppsala, Sweden: Tvavaga forlags ab, 1972.


Mission Aviation

Spring 1975 (thirtieth year commemorative issues)

Summer 1975

Fall 1975

Winter 1975-76

Spring 1976

Summer 1976

Autumn 1976

Summer 1977

Fall 1977

Winter 1977-78

Spring 1978

Summer 1978

Fall 1978

Winter 1978-79

Spring 1979

Summer 1979

Fall 1979

Winter 1979-80

Spring 1980

Summer 1980

Fall 1980

Winter 1980-81

Fall 1981

Spring 1982

Summer 1982 (partial)

Collection 528 Ephemera of Mission Aviation History
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