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Youth for Christ Records

Identifier: CN 048

Brief Description

Minutes, constitution and by-laws, clippings, newsletters, manuals, pamphlets, directories, press releases, audio tapes, videotapes, photographs, posters, club yearbooks, correspondence, etc., about the founding, development and growth, and activities of Youth for Christ in the USA and internationally.

Collection documents organizational policies, correspondence of the organization's presidents, conventions and Bible quiz competitions, the operation of Campus Life clubs, Youth Guidance program for troubled teenagers, YFC programs in other countries, audio tapes of YFC's radio program REALITY and its Bible quizzes, and Billy Graham's involvement in YFC; photographs of YFC leaders and activities are numerous; information on YFCI's magazine, correpondence, and financial records are limited.  Subjects covered include evangelism among and by young people in both the United States and throughout the world, leadership training for staff and youth, fund raising and public relations, and the discipleship of youth.  Some of YFCI's key figures featured include Robert Cook, Torrey Johnson, Sam Wolgemuth, and Jay Kesler.


  • Created: 1944-ongoing
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1944-ongoing


Conditions Governing Access

Folder 32-2 is closed until December 31, 2048.

Conditions Governing Use

Youth For Christ/USA, retains the copyrights to any published works in the collection belonging to YFCI; to videotapes or the films the tapes were copied from; to Youth for Christ magazine, Campus Life magazine, and any other printed material dated after July 1, 1980.

Biographical or Historical Information

Evangelistic organization working among young people; founded in 1944 to centralize independently organized rallies around the country; Billy Graham was YFC's first full-time evangelist; emphasis shifted from Saturday night rallies to organized clubs, known in 1960s as Campus Life, including activities for recreation and spiritual growth; developed a program for troubled teenagers called Youth Guidance; Mid-Winter conventions were held in different American cities (1956- ) as a youth conference, adding a business portion after 1969; periodical YOUTH FOR CHRIST developed, later called CAMPUS LIFE; during World War II included focus on ministry to servicemen; developed REALITY, a radio program with contemporary music and evangelistic messages for youth, 1974; presidents included Torrey Johnson (1945-1948), Robert Cook (1948-1957), Ted Engstrom (1957-1963), Carl Bihl (1963-1965), Sam Wolgemuth (1965-1973), Jay Kesler (1973-1985), and Richard Wynn (1986-1989); headquarters based in Chicago (1944-1953), Wheaton (1953-1990) and Denver (1990- ); indigenous YFCs emerged throughout the world with YFCI's ehlp.  YFC organizations also started in countries and these joined together in 1968 to form the International Council of YFC, also known as YFC International.

During World War II, pastors in widely separated cities in the United States and Canada began holding huge evangelistic rallies especially aimed at young people, including those in the armed forces. These rallies had been inspired by the youth work of men like Paul Guiness and Jack Wyrtzen, and included entertainment, singing, and vigorous preaching. Among the more important leaders of the movement were John Von Casper "Jack" Wyrtzen from New York, Walter Smyth from Philadelphia, Roger Malsbary from Indianapolis, Richard Harvey from St. Louis, George Wilson from Minneapolis, Edward Darling from Detroit, and Torrey Johnson from Chicago. In August of 1944, most of these men and others, including J. Palmer Muntz, Arthur McKee, and V. Raymond Edman, met at Winona Lake, Indiana, to form a temporary organization to serve as a channel for the various rallies to render mutual assistance to each other. Another meeting was held in Detroit in November. Torrey Johnson was elected the chairman of a temporary committee. Johnson soon recruited Billy Graham, who had worked on the Chicago rallies, to become the organizations' first full-time evangelist. A magazine also began to be published. It was an expanded version of the periodical put out by the Indianapolis rally. Less than a year later, forty-two delegates from the various rallies met again at Winona Lake to make Youth for Christ International (YFCI) into a permanent organization. Torrey Johnson was elected president, Richard Harvey vice president, George Wilson secretary, and Walter Block treasurer. (The organization originally called Youth for Christ International was essentially based in the United States, although clubs started in other countries at an early date. Over the years, autonomous national organizations started in other countries and a national coordinating office, also called Youth for Christ, International, also was started. About 1980, the United States branch was officially renamed Youth for Christ/USA. Unless specifically stated otherwise, “YFC” in the descriptions that follow refers to the United States organization.)

The first constitution declared the objectives of YFC to be: "1. To promote and to help Youth for Christ everywhere. 2. To encourage evangelism among youth. 3. To emphasize radiant, victorious Christian living. 4. To foster service internationally of youth through existing agencies." The constitution also included a statement of faith, to be signed by all workers, which declared, among other articles, belief in the Bible as the inspired infallible Word of God; the Trinity; the deity, virgin birth, atoning death, bodily resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ; the necessity of the regeneration of the Holy Spirit for salvation; the salvation and damnation of souls; and the spiritual unity of believers in Christ. The organizational structure was simple. Local rallies were grouped together into regional areas under a regional vice president. These vice presidents and the general officers of the organization made up the executive council, which had general oversight of the organization. The president served as the council's executive. The local rallies generally had a large degree of independence. An annual convention, held at Winona Lake and attended by the general officers of the organization and the directors of the affiliated rallies, met to approve the actions of the Council and its Board of Directors.

The work went through many changes in the years that followed. The emphasis shifted from the Saturday night rallies to clubs organized for teenagers. These clubs both sponsored recreational type activities and help the youths deepen their understanding of spiritual things. In the 1960s, this section of YFC became known as Campus Life (CL). Other major activities and divisions of YFC included JV clubs for junior high-aged children; Youth Guidance, a program aimed at reaching delinquents and other troubled teenagers through counseling, half-way house, group homes, and summer camps; publications aimed at a teen audience such as Youth For Christ magazine, later Campus Life ( in October 1982, Christianity Today, Inc. took over the publication of Campus Life magazine, although it remained closely associated with YFC through the mid1990s.); general evangelistic activities such as rallies; and training programs for YFC staff and other youth workers and interested persons in how to run activities for teenagers, counseling techniques, the lifestyle of modern teens, etc. Of particular importance throughout almost all of YFC’s history were the international, national and regional conferences when hundreds or thousands of teens would get together for evangelism, discipling and mutual encouragement.

Originally YFC also had the Overseas Division which sponsored the sending of evangelists, musicians and Christian teens to other nations to help spread the gospel and to support the work churches in those countries were doing. In time, many nations developed, with the help of YFCI, their own indigenous YFC organization and the overseas division as a unit of the United States YFC was phased out. In 1968, representatives of the national YFC organizations gathered in Jamaica to form the International Council of Youth to coordinate international activities, charter national organizations, and set standards for the training of youth workers, and plan the world strategy of the organization. The organization was known as Youth for Christ International, and it had several regional offices.

Organizationally, YFC-USA became more centralized in the late 1940s. Its headquarters were moved from Chicago to Wheaton, a Chicago suburb, in 1953. Although local clubs retained a degree of autonomy, their staff goes through the YFC training program, use YFC materials, and agrees to abide by YFC policies and statement of faith. The annual business meeting was shifted from the summer Winona convention to a midwinter convention, usually held at the beginning of the year in different cities around the nation. Eventually The Winona convention was eventually discontinued altogether as a national gathering. In August 1990, YFC moved from Wheaton to Denver, Colorado, which became the headquarters for both YFC-USA and YFC International’s United States office.

Presidents of YFC/USA

  • Torrey Maynard Johnson, 1945-1948
  • Robert Andrew Cook, 1948-1957
  • Theodore Wilhelm Engstrom, 1957-1963
  • Carl Bihl, 1963-1965
  • Samuel Wolgemuth, 1965-1973
  • Jay Lewis Kesler, 1973-1985
  • Richard Wynn, 1986-1989
  • Roger Cross, 1990-
  • Extent

    33.70 Cubic Feet

    Language of Materials


    Arrangement Note

    The materials in this collection touch on almost every aspect of YFC's development and activity. It includes correspondence, manuals, minutes of meetings, press releases, newspaper clippings, photographs, audio tapes, video tapes, phonograph records, pamphlets, directories, newsletters and other materials, which show both the work YFC did and the way it functions as an organization. The organization of the collection was created by the archives' staff, although original folder titles were retained wherever possible. The folders are arranged alphabetically according to title. The contents of most folders are arranged in rough chronological order. Two exceptions are the news release files in box 15, where the alphabetical arrangement according to the subject of the release was retained, and the correspondence in boxes 31-60, which are arranged by year and then alphabetically. The folders have been divided by the processing archivist into eight sections:

  • Documents about the early days of YFC's history
  • Administrative records
  • Convention records
  • Bible quiz completion materials
  • Campus Life records
  • Youth Guidance Records
  • International records
  • Miscellaneous

    These sections are described in the narrative that follows, although, as will be seen, often material in one section relates to the material in another section.
  • Arrangement and Description

    Documents about the early history of YFC

    There are several files containing information on the early days of YFC and the celebration of those days. Youth for Christ was a very history conscious organization. It often celebrated various anniversaries. For the tenth anniversary of its founding in 1954, a notebook containing photographs and memorabilia from its beginnings was prepared. This notebook is in folder 1-1. Materials on the 25th anniversary are in folders 14-8 and 37-2, among others. There is also a great deal of material on the 40th anniversary in 1984, including audio tapes T37-T44, videotape V17 and phonograph record P5.

    Many publications of the organization (see examples in folders 17-10 and 17-11) also contain thumbnail histories. Other interesting histories are in folder 13-42 and in folder 18-9. The former is a tenth year pictorial and written retrospective prepared for the 10th annual convention held in Winona Lake. The folder contains a YFC chronology, as well. The latter is the introduction to a staff orientation manual.

    The actual documents from the early days are rather fragmentary. The folder on constitution and by-laws contains the first of these documents (folder 12-30). Several folders in box 14 contain leaflets, programs, advertisements, newsletters, etc., for the rallies held across the United States and Europe. The Winona Convention folders contain the minutes and programs from the very first convention on, although there are gaps in the documentation. Another source of information on the organization’s beginnings can be found in the minutes of the Board of Directors (folders 9-4 to 9-10); the yearbooks published by YFC clubs in various cities such as Kansas City, Grand Rapids, etc. (folders 11-34 to 12-9); executive council minutes (folders 14-69 to 14-71), some of the YFC's newsletters such as News Bulletin (folder 16-3) and Leads for Leaders (folder 15-38); press clippings files (folders 17-1 to 17-3); and the reports sent by early clubs to the YFC central office (folder 17-15).

    Among other items of interest are: a notebook, ca. 1957, which contains photographs and captions describing YFC activities at that time (folder 20-2); manuals on how to begin and develop a YFC club in a typical high school (folder 2-3); ephemera from early YFC chapters in Illinois, Iowa, and California (OS 11, folder 22-1).


    Many of the records mentioned above have to do with administration. A significant portion of the collection deals with organizational development and internal policies. For example, there are the minutes of the YFC's governing bodies, such as the council of delegates (folder 4-25), the executive committee (folder 14-68, boxes 24-30), the vice presidents' meetings (folder 19-31), and the board of directors and executive council minutes of (folders 14-69 to 14-71, boxes 2430). Sam Wolgemuth’s (boxes 31-32, 33-35) and Jay Kesler’s (box 37) copies of correspondence and minutes for the national and international YFC boards can be found in their sections of the collection. Besides summaries of the meetings, minutes often also include reports or special presentations on long range planning. For example, the Administrative Position Paper presented at the 1968 Winona convention is basically a narrative description of the then existing geographic hierarchy of YFC (folder 14-5). Similar information can be found in folders 13-18, 13-21, and 13-26.

    The majority of the correspondence folders consist of the letters and related materials of YFC presidents Samuel Wolgemuth and Jay Kesler.

    The Wolgemuth correspondence in folders 14-22 and 14-23 consists mostly of congratulatory messages he received when he became president of YFC. The variety of senders of these messages give an idea of the scope of the organization's influence and impact. Most of Wolgemuth’s correspondence can be found in boxes 31 through 37. They include items from 1956 through 1986, although most of the material is from the period of his presidency (1965-1973) and the years afterwards, when he served on the boards of YFC-USA and YFC International and continued to be a policy maker within the organization. Many of the reports in boxes 67 and 68 are also from his files. Included is correspondence with YFC staff members; reports, minutes and correspondence with the YFC-USA board (box 31). Wolgemuth’s files are especially rich in materials relating to YFC’s International Council for the 1970s and 1980s (boxes 33-35). Box 35 also contains some reports relating to the Overseas Division, the original department of YFC which was concerned with work outside the United States, as described below. The correspondence with YFC-International president James Groen in folder 33-6 also relates to the International Council. Folder 35-5 consists of a report by Billy Kim, YFC’s coordinator for East Asia, on a training program. Folder 36-19 consists of responses by various political leaders to Senator Frank Carlson’s invitation to attend the 1962 Capital Teen Convention banquet.

    Several folders contain material about Wolgemuth’s involvement on the boards or committees of other Christian organizations, such as International Congress on World Evangelization (Box 33), Messiah College (folder 6-3), Taylor University (folder 6-13), and the Tyndale Foundation (folder 6-16). Folder 33-12 contains an interesting copy of a letter from W. Stanley Mooneyham to Hudson Armerding (then president of the World Evangelical Fellowship) in which Mooneyham discusses some of the weakness of the WEF and evaluates a proposal from Billy Graham for international Evangelical cooperation.

    Much of the collection consists of material about YFC staff member and eventual president Jay Kesler. Folder 14-19 has a memo of Kesler’s describing the issues he would stress, if and when he became president of YFC. His presidential correspondence is in boxes 37-60, although scattered throughout these are folders are many materials from his non-presidential days as well, such as the file on 1970 Reach to the Future fundraising campaign in folder 56-4.

    Boxes 37 through 40 contain Kesler’s correspondence, memo, etc., to and from YFC board members and senior YFC staff members such as Bruce Barton, Gary Dausey, Wendy Collins, Earl Schultz, Bill Slemp, and Sam Wolgemuth. (Correspondence with the International Council is in folders box 50.) Boxes 39 and 40 also contain two large folders with speeches and articles he produced during his presidency. Boxes 40 through 60 contain other correspondence. This is mostly about YFC programs, plans and financial needs. There are many letters to various YFC staff members, but also letters to supporters of the organization and leaders of other Christian organizations. There are separate files for correspondence with the Palermo Brothers (folder 5 3), YFCI board chairman Fred Smith (folder 8-1), David Vander Muy, and Philip Yancey (folder 0-5). There are also files of correspondence with the large YFC offices in Atlanta (folder 41-2), Chicago (folder 43-2) and New York (folders 52-4 and 52-5). Folder 42-5 consists of correspondence with the YFC organization in Canada. In addition, either YFC or Kesler personally or both were involved in the work of other Evangelical organizations and this involvement is reflected in his correspondence. Among the organizations with files are Christianity Today, Inc (folders 43-3 through 44-1), Evangelicals for Social Action (folder 46-1), Family Concern (folder 46-4), Fuller Theological Seminary (Kesler was a board member; folders 47-4 to 48-1), the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (folder 50-3), Prison Fellowship (folders 55-6 through 56-1), and Word, Inc. (folder 60-3). Kesler also served for a time as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Geneva, Illinois, and folder 47-1 has material from his ministry there.

    There is one folder of material (folder 0-8) about Richard Wynn, Kesler’s successor as president. This contains information on his background in YFC, his plans as president and a press release on his appointment.

    Besides the Kesler and Wolgemuth materials, the correspondence files contain a few items on internal development. However, most of the correspondence files contain unrelated materials gathered at random. In the correspondence files are such records as the plans for Carl Bihl's trip to Australia in 1962 (folder 14-12), a copy of president Robert Cook's letter of resignation (folder 14-5), and some thoughts jotted down by Everett S. Graffam on the early history of YFC (folder 14-18).

    The directories of the organization in folders 14-26, 14-27, 14-28, and 66-2 list the staff for most of the 1960s and 1970s. The news releases contain some information on changes within YFC, mostly for the years 1956-1958. A more important source of information, however, are the newsletters. The collection contains several different ones besides the already mentioned News Bulletin and Leads for Leaders. The most important is Monday Memo, which contains brief reports on both past and future YFC events (folders 15-40 to 16-2, 66-6).

    A major concern of the organization was training and the collection contains many manuals devoted to staff recruitment, training, financial support, resources for clubs and long term planning. Many of these manuals, not all intended for staff, are in boxes 17-19 and 62-65, but others are scattered throughout the collection. There are manuals for club directors (folders 17-16 and 17-17, 63-2, 64-2), manuals for members of local board of directors (folders 17-13, 62-6, 64-4), manuals for people who were serving as trainees or interns or volunteers in various YFC departments, as well as for the people who served as their supervisors (folders 18-3, 18-5, 18-6, 18-7, 64-11), and policy and procedure manuals from various phases of the organization’s development (folders 64-7, 64-8, 64-9). These manuals usually break down a position or task into components and then describe those components one at a time, along with historical background and examples. Some manuals, such as those for club directors, cover many topics while others are very specialized, such as the module action group maintenance manual, which is concerned with methods for beginning and continuing a group of laymen who will financially support a particular ministry (folder 18-15). Other examples are the miracle manual (folder 18-10), which is a plan for local clubs to develop the national theme chosen by YFC for 1959, and the magazine manual in folder 18-8, which is designated apparently for YFC organizations in other countries as well as America. This manual contains a discussion of the various considerations that should go into preparing a Christian youth magazine. Some manuals describe how to set up a particular type of YFC program, such as a Campus Life club (folder 63-1) or a JV club (folder 64-3, see also videos V18-V23). Folders 63-3 and 65-1 contain information for YFC supporters on how to plan estates and wills. Still others, such as folders 64-4 and 64-10, contain psychological insights for people involved in counseling. The manual in folder 62-5 was intended for use in the advanced training of senior YFC staff members from national organizations and was to be used in conjunction with tapes T26-T31. Other manuals are more general, such as the staff information book in folder 18-2 which gives an overview of the entire organization. Folder 63-5 contains a 1971 selection of the type of form letters staff members would find useful, along with the manual for staff members in the eastern area office of the organization, which also gives an overview with particular emphasis on the activities of that particular region. The ministry resource manuals (folders 18-12, 18-13, 18-14, 64-5, 64-6, 65-2) contains ideas and techniques that various clubs found useful. These are broken up into topics, such as "Bible Studies" or "Skits", etc.

    An almost complete set of audits of Youth for Christ from 1947 until 1984 can be found in boxes 61 and 62. The board minutes and reports in boxes 24 through 30 also, of course, contain significant information on the income and expenses of the organization and its financial policies. A few of the staff folders have to do with fundraising and public relations. Folder 18-1 contains sample programs from fundraising events, while folders 18-17 and 18-19 contain advice on other kinds of fundraising activities. A study on YFC's public relations and fundraising activities was commissioned in 1957 and is contained in folder 19-1. This report describes the strength and weakness of past activities and recommends the creation of a development program for the future. Addition material can be found in folders 56-4, 63-3, 65-1, 67-6, 67-10, 68-3, and 68-6 as well as throughout the correspondence of Wolgemuth and Kesler.

    One of the especially interesting items in the staff files is a manual on how to organize a revival campaign (folder 17-14). This is either a very early YFC manual or was not prepared by YFC at all but was merely kept by the staff for reference. Also interesting are the surveys in folder 19-2, on the location of YFC clubs in the United States; the report in folder 18-21 on the need for a central staff training and research center; and the national field office reports in folder 18-16. These field office reports are summaries of interesting developments in the organization's local chapters.

    Staff conferences of various kinds were regularly held to build morale, discuss problems, explain policy, etc. The minutes, notebooks, and agendas from some of these meetings are contained in folders 19-7 through 19-19. The annual mid-winter and Winona Lake conferences served as meeting times for the staff and governing bodies of YFC, as well as spiritual retreats for the organization's teenage and young adult constituency. The convention folders are described below.

    The files labeled "Data Processing" (folders 20-6 to 21-8) have all retained their original titles. These documents well illustrate the kind of efforts a small Christian organization needed to make to begin the process of introducing the computer into its previously manual record keeping system. Included in these records are proposals from various vendors (folders 20-29 to 20-35, 21-5, 21-6), letters, reports, and forms from vendors YFC did work with, such as Christian Service Brigade, IBM (folders 20-13, 20-21, 20-26), descriptions of the kind of processes YFC wanted automated (folder 20-9), and reports on some of the problems involved in developing a useable system (folders 20-21, 20-24). Analyses of the effects of YFC's automated operations can be found in folder 20-15. James Ruggles, Paul Van Oss, Ray Dalton, Keith Carlson, and Sam Wolgemuth are among the frequent correspondents.

    YFC held seminars for pastors, parents, youth workers, on the problems on contemporary teenagers. Materials from these seminars are contained in folders 19-21, 19-24, 19-25, 19-26, 19-27, 19-28 and 19-29. They also published materials to help in counseling with teens and their families (folders 64-10, 65-5, 66-4, 66-5). For a brief time in 1963 and 1964, YFC had a radio program. Folder 19-32 contains correspondence on the program, as well as club reports from all over the U.S. and from Taiwan, which were apparently intended for use on the show. As mentioned above, folder 19-30 contains materials on YFC's attempt to come to grips with the problem of the ghetto. Specifically, it contains a plan for an Urban Advisors Council of knowledgeable YFC staffers to guide the organization in its inner-city work. Materials in the folder include a description of the proposed council, work reports from various cities, and memos discussing the project.

    An abundance of biographical details on individual staff members, as well as YFC friends and advisors and special events, are contained in the news releases in boxes 15 and 22. Some of the people for whom there are news releases include Wes Aarum, Ronald Avalone, Bruce Barton, George Bennard, Eugene Boyer, Robert Bradford, James Butcher, William Carle, Colin P. Clark, Wendy Collins, Robert Collitt, Ray Curry, Jack Daniel, Gary Dausey, Robert Davenport, Alan Davis, Harold DeCou, James W. DiRaddo, William Eakin, William C. Ellis, Theodore Wilhelm Engstrom, Leighton Ford, Gene French, Ernest Fritschle, William Franklin “Billy” Graham, David L. Grant, Carl Gunderson, Jack Hamilton, Redd Harper, Evon Hedley, Charles R. Hennix, Harold Hosmer, Johnnie Hope, John Howard, John Huffman Jr., Rafer Johnson, Suzzanne Johnson, Robert Kaning, Jay Kesler, Louis Paul Lehman, Karlis Leyasmeyer, Bruce Love, Victor Manogram, Vernon McLellan, Paul Mickelson, Franklyn Miller, Clyde M. Narramore, Louis Palermo, Phil Palermo, William E. Pannell, Ted Place, Robert Willard Pierce, Flo Price, Peter Quist, George J. Reed, David L. Roberts, John Robertson, Robert Rudell, James H. Savage, Earl W. Schultz Jr., Tedd Seelye, Harry R. Smith, Paul Brainard Smith, William Stevens, Stanley Tam, Herbert John Taylor, Park Tucker, Harold A. Walker, Carl Weir, Warren Wiersbe, Ronald Wilson, Samuel Wolgemuth, James E. Wright, John von Casper (Jack) Wyrtzen, and Philip Yancey. Also in the new release files are newsletters and other materials relating to Jack Shuler's work, particularly his campaign in Ireland. These files also contain releases on the activities of Campus Life, Youth Guidance, and the overseas division filed alphabetically in the C, Y, and O files, respectively.

    Convention records

    Conventions and congresses on regional, national, and international scales have always played an important part in the organization. The first was the annual convention held at Winona Lake, Indiana, in 1945. Folders 13-34 to 14-11 contain materials on most of the conventions held there from 1945 to 1969. The convention, as documented by the files, was actually two events. One event was composed of the games, sermons, contests, recreation activities, devotional times, and training planned for the teenage constituents of YFC. The programs in folders 13-43, 13-51, and 14-9 describe these activities. The Teen Talent Contest, for example, was the final competition of a series of contests that had been held throughout the year and nation. The contest included competitions in preaching, song leading, singing, instrumentals, and piano. Rules, results, and coverage of these events are contained in folders 13-54, 14-3, 14-7, and 14-10 among others. The other event was the meeting(s) of the YFC staff, administrators, and trustees gathered for consultations, seminars, and business meetings. Many of the minutes, agendas, and programs of these sessions also contained in folders 13-34 to 14-11. After 1969, only regional conferences were held at Winona Lake, and these continued to approximately 1973. The business functions were taken care of at the Mid-Winter Convention and the youth conferences were handled regionally.

    Another major event on the YFC calendar was the aforementioned Mid-Winter Convention, first held in 1956 in Chicago. According to a press release of January of that year, "Eleven previous conventions of Youth For Christ have been held annually, in July, at Winona Lake, Indiana. However, leaders have decided to change plans somewhat--holding their annual business sessions each January, with the summer conclave being conducted primarily as a youth conference geared to teenagers." The next two conventions were also held in Chicago, but after 1958 they were held in different cities (generally warm climates) during the first months of the year. Folders 13-2 to 13-33 and 15-9 contain documentation of these meetings, including minutes, reports of division heads and committees, speeches, and programs. For example, folder 13-9 contains summaries of talks given at the 1961 convention on "The YFC Director and FundRaising," "The Local Lifeline Project," "New Dimensions in YFC Clubs," "How to be a 'Pro' at Promotion," "YFC Counseling and Follow-Up," "The YFC Director and the Local Board," and "Better Business Methods for YFC." The minutes of the same convention in folder 13-10 include reports on the construction of a headquarters building, finances, national development, new personnel, publications, rechartering of rally, the overseas committee, Campus Crusade, Lifeline Committee, Organizational Committee, magazine promotion, YFC Clubs, plans for a World Teen Convention, the Counseling and Follow-Up Committee, resolutions committee, etc. Folder 13-59 contains an interesting 1962 statement by Paul B. Smith on YFC’s intention to henceforth focus exclusively on teenagers. As can be seen, these minutes, reports, and seminars help create a detailed understanding of the yearly methods, goals, and results of YFC. Folder 13-31 contains an interesting paper titled Beyond Technique, which contains apparently imaginary statements by "average" staff members at various levels of the YFC structure, describes their goals, hopes, frustrations, and disappointments. Videos V15 and V16 contain scenes from the convention held in Washington DC in 1988, which was addressed by President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy on different days.

    Another important series of meetings were the world congresses or international congresses that YFC has held. These meetings included both young people and Christian leaders, and usually were concerned with evangelism strategy. The collection contains lists of delegates who attended the meeting, programs, some handbooks, etc. The handbook in folder 12-16 and the articles in folder 12-19 include summaries of the activities of past congresses. Folder 15-7 contains some of the news releases about the meeting. Among the oversize materials is a poster from the 1950 world congress held in Paris.

    One final group of convention folders contain materials on the Capital Teen Convention held in Washington, D.C. (folders 12-32 to 13-1, 15-8).

    Bible Quiz Competition records

    YFC sponsored the very popular Bible quiz competitions which were held on local, regional, and national levels. The finals were usually held during the Winona Convention. Teams of teenagers would compete against each other to see who would be the fastest in answering questions of fact on particular portions of Scripture, which had been studied beforehand. Collection 48 includes official sets of questions asked (folder 2-11, box 3,4,5,6,7, folders 8-1 to 8-7); manuals for contestants and coaches (folders 1-8 to 2-7); rules (folder 8-6); score sheets (folder 8-7); description of equipment needed (folder 1-6); concordances of Biblical books to be used in the contest (folders 1-2 to 1-4) etc. One interesting set of correspondence deals with competition outside the United States (folder 1-5). Tapes T19-T22 contain the finals of some quiz competitions.

    The remaining files in the collection deal mostly with the work of three divisions of YFC some of which were eventually superseded or revised: Campus Life (folders 9-12 to 11-31); the Overseas Division (folders 16-4 to 16-60); and Youth Guidance (folders 19-33 to 19-49).

    Campus Life

    Campus Life files contain mainly material on the ways to run a model club. Folder 9-14 contains artwork that could be used for advertisement for various activities; folders 10-1 and 10-2 describe activities to be used in various kinds of meetings; folder 10-7 explains how to run a haunted house, a popular CL activity every Halloween; folders 11-13 and 11-14 contain humorous skits that could be put on during club meetings; folder 11-4 contains a newsletter with ideas that proved successful in other clubs. The rally programming notes in folder 11-9 give instruction on how to run large meetings and has ideas for activities. Some of the manuals in the section combine practical tips with discussion of the theory behind club management. Thus, the manuals in folders 10-8 to 11-2 for Impact (large meetings for general audiences composed of Christians and non-Christians) and Insight (more intimate meetings for Christians and spiritual seekers) clubs define the purpose of the clubs, explain how to start them, the components of a typical meeting, and list various types of activities that should be tried. The girls' staff manual in folder 10-5 contains a lengthy discussion of the place of the woman staffer within the work of organization, as well as outlining techniques for counseling girls with various problems and for running events such as: slumber parties; fashion shows; charm schools, etc. Three manuals consist mostly of theory: the policy manual in folder 11-7; the paper Outreach by Relationship in folder 11-6; and the operational manual in folder 11-5. The policy manual sets down the regulations governing the staff of a Campus Life club and the rationale behind those regulations. Outreach by Relationship is by Jim Osterhaus, and describes his own experience in working with teenagers and why it is more meaningful to develop relations with the high school students as people, rather than to concentrate on programs. The operations manual in folder 11-5 describes in detail how to start a club, how to conduct meetings, crowd control, leading techniques, etc. It provides valuable insights into the Campus Life style. It also gives a general historical introduction to the work of YFC.

    In the late-‘60s, Campus Life began a project called Teen Dimension, which was intended to produce clubs for junior high school age teenagers, similar to the clubs Campus Life had for high school age students. Folder 11-21 contains the records generated by the pilot project including the letters and memos sent to clubs chosen to try out the idea, and memos exchanged by staff members evaluating the results. Folder 11-20 contains that manual that grew out of the experience. This manual includes a description of the needs and desires of the junior high age teenager. These clubs were later renamed JV clubs and videos V18 through V23 contain information on how to start and run one.

    Several folders contain material on the musical groups of teenagers recruited by Campus Life and formed into singing groups, which toured clubs in various parts of the country. These groups included the Random Sample (folder 11-10), the Soul Concern (folders 11-15 to 11-17), Trust Company (folder 11-22) and Under New Management (folders 11-23 to 11-30). The collection also contains phonograph records of some of these groups.

    Youth Guidance records

    Youth Guidance (originally known as Lifeline) was YFC's ministry to troubled and alienated teenagers. The pamphlets in folder 19-47 explain many of the division's activities and goals. Three of the files in this section are concerned with long-range planning and ways of discovering if the program was really meeting a need. Thus, folder 19-37 contains goals set for the program ca. 1958 and defines past problems in meeting those goals. Folder 19-46 contains the handouts prepared for a Youth Guidance seminar on ways to diagnose a teenager's needs and how to meet those needs. Folder 19-49 contains the 1974 report of the research and development committee, which described new staff needs, possible programs, ways to revise the Youth Guidance manual, and ways for measuring YG's quality. Folders 19-40, 19-41 and 19-42 contain manuals prepared for the staff. The manual in folder 19-40 is mostly concerned with the way to run a Lifeline summer camp. It includes an introduction by then Governor Mark Hatfield. The other two folders contain material on all aspects of Youth Guidance, including job descriptions, ways to lead a small group, how to deal with discipline, a profile of the troubled teen, neighborhood ministries, group homes, singing, Bible teaching, etc. Folder 19-33 also contains manual-type material on personal development.

    Some folders contain reports and analyses of specific YG activities. Thus folder 19-34 has the minutes of some field staff meetings where various programs were evaluated and plans for the future made. Folder 19-36 has clippings, brochures, reports on the George Washington Boys' Home. This was an institution built on the land where the United States' first President grew up, where homeless boys would be raised and educated. The next file (folder 19-37) contains material and reports on YG's group homes, where a number of troubled teens would live together as a family under YG house parents. Folder 19-48 contains reports on the Release Program, a plan to help young people in the Black inner city by providing youth centers, sports, counseling, vocational aid, camping, and biblical leadership. (Other materials on YFC's attempts to come to grips with the problems of the ghetto, are in folder 19-30). Folders 19-43 to 19-45 contain records of a musical group that Youth Guidance formed and sent on tour in a fashion similar to the teen musical groups Campus Life formed. Folders 23-3 and 23-4 contain National Program Catalogs, undated, titled Youth Guidance, listing by cities staff and programs for YFC. They were compiled to provide a comparative analysis of programs and for assistance of YFC staff members in youth guidance work.

    Overseas Division

    Almost half of the Overseas division files contain newspaper clippings about the activities in particular countries, or areas such as Europe (folder 16-20), Formosa (folder 16-24), or the Philippines (folder 16-47). Some particularly interesting files contain the newsletter published by YFC of West Germany (folder 16-27). Several folders contain other kinds of information on YFC activities in other nations. Thus folder 16-30 contains the manual used in India for evangelistic campaigns, and folder 16-38 has a copy of the plan for the Japanese "Operation Format," which was designed to carry on cooperative mass youth evangelism at every level, while folder 16-23 contains a report of a 1961 conference in Holland on European YFC work that is very detailed. The administration of the program in different nations is partially illustrated by the minutes of the executive committees contained in folders 16-8, 16-20, 16-31 and 16-39. In 1968, the various national YFC organizations formed the International Council of Youth For Christ International, which is headquartered in Switzerland. The draft constitution of this body is in folder 16-34.

    The next folder contains the manual of a youth leader's training school sponsored by the Council. These training schools were held around the world. Subjects covered in the manual include: principles of leadership, how to teach the Bible, prayer, determining God's will for your life, reaching non-Church young people, counseling, drugs, how to run a bike trip, music, and follow-up.

    The rest of the folders labeled "Overseas Division" are concerned with the organization and work of the United States Youth For Christ's overseas division. Folder 16-52 contains brochures published to describe the division's activities. Folder 16-53 contains a fundraising appeal by the Palermo brothers for the division. The appeal also briefly describes the work being done in various areas of the world. Much of the history of the development of the division is described in the minutes of the overseas committee in folders 16-45 and 16-46. This committee would generally review the activities of the organization outside the United States. It made recommendations to YFC's governing bodies on changes which should be made. Besides minutes, these folders also contain many reports on the situation of the church in general and YFC in particular in various countries. Folders 16-48 and 16-49 contain a handbook prepared for staff members, which contains the constitutions of YFC and the Council of Youth and details the qualifications and duties of the overseas worker. Topics covered include preparation for the field, field policy, communication, financial policy, and furlough policy. The manual in folder 16-41 gives a general overview of the division's work and apparently was designed for recruitment of new staff. More information on various staff members can be found in folders 164, 16-40 and 16-41; the prayer letters contained in folder 16-51 written home by: Ken and Kathy Benjamin (Holland); Werner and Inge Burklin (Jamaica); Don and Marge Charles (Peru); Tom and Betty Clyde (France); Moises and Rosemary Gomes (Portugal); Cal and Allegra Harrah (Germany); Miriam McGee (Europe); Gail and Mike McKinney (Germany); Ed and Wendy Miller (Germany); Paul and Jane Overholt (Brazil); Gene and Karen Platte (Brazil); Len and Pauline Rogers (Lebanon); Gaston and Margo Singh (India); Bill and Ellen Spade (Norway); Chris and Lydia Vonck (Belgium); James and Flo Wilson (South Korea); Ron and Carole Wilson (Holland); William and Joan Yoder (Europe); Ray Harrison (Headquarters, USA); Timothy and Judy Osterlund (Scandinavia); and William James (South Korea); and the newsletters in folder 16-43. Folder 16-54 also contains a miscellaneous assortment of material relating to the overseas committee and staff, such as a description of the responsibilities of the Director of the Frankfort, Germany, YFC, correspondence between past and present chairpersons of the committee about its work, memos sent by the division director to staff members, and minutes of staff meetings.

    Several files contain new releases, manuals, schedules, membership lists, etc., documenting the overseas Teen Teams, which were groups of teenagers sent from the YFC organization in one nation to the YFC organization in another nation, to witness through song and spoken word (folders 16-55 to 16-59).

    As mentioned above, Sam Wolgemuth was active on the International Council of YFC in the 1970s and 1980s and his papers, especially boxes 33 through 35, contain a great deal of information on its work.


    Several files contain information on Billy Graham and/or the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The early Winona Convention files have reports by him; the news release in folder 15-14 has stories about his activities; and folder 14-18 has a letter with information on his early career. Folder 12-36 contains a sermon, “Partisans for Christ,” which Graham gave at the 1962 Winona Lake convention. Folders 14-8 and 37-2 contains correspondence about the involvement of the BGEA in the planning of the 1969 25th Anniversary of YFC; folder 14-21 also contains letters on this topic. Besides Graham, correspondents include: Cliff Barrows, William Culbertson, Theodore Wilhelm Engstrom, Robert V. Finley, Leighton F. Ford, Cornelius Haggard, Richard Halverson, Richard Hillis, Torrey M. Johnson, Forest Layman, George Beverly Shea, Walter Herbert Smyth, William S. Starr, Joseph Weatherly, George M. Wilson, and Thomas W. Wilson.

    Two groups of records not directly related to YFC, but included in the collection are worthy of mention. Folder 12-11 contains a folder of information from the Coffee Information Service on how to run a Christian coffee house. Folder 17-8 contains the press kit put out for youth organizations by Richard Nixon's 1972 campaign organization, the Committee to Re-Elect the President. The kit contains photographs of Nixon and his aides, and position papers on issues of interest to young voters. Both these packets of information were apparently kept by YFC as reference material.

    This collection is extremely rich in audio-visual materials. See the location records in this guide for a fuller description. All photographic images have been placed in the photograph file. (See Location Records: Photographs for a more detailed description.) They fall roughly into two groups. The first are photographs of individuals--staff members, friends, etc. The other group shows YFC activities in a particular geographic location. All photographs of non-North American clubs are arranged by country. Thus, all the Japan photos are together in one folder. The North American photographs are grouped together according to state, province or territory.

    Thus, all the photographs taken in California are together in one file. Under this arrangement, all the photographs taken at Winona Lake conferences and congresses are in the Indiana file. There are a few other files on special subjects. Several files contain YFC-sponsored musical groups or teams, such as the Random Sample, The Trust Company, Master Switch, and the Soul Concern. Some show YFC activities such as the photos on Midwinter Conventions or the photos of the George Washington Boyhood Home run by Youth Guidance, or the file on general Youth Guidance activities, or the photographs used to illustrate the book God Goes to High School or the publicity photos of YFC ministries. There are hundreds of photographs in the folders labeled "YFC - General," which also show the range of YFC activities such as quiz teams, conferences, Bible studies, hymn sings, camps, etc. The file labeled "Unidentified People" contains photos of persons presumably connected with YFC, but otherwise unknown, at least to the Archives' staff. There are also several photographs of the various YFC headquarters. A list of the titles of the folders into which the photographs have been placed can be found in the location records.


    The materials in this collection were received by the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by YFC in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1991. Books and periodicals in the accessions were given to the BGC Library (now the Evangelism & Missions Collection of Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections).

    Accessions: 78-38, 78-43, 78-44, 78-46, 79-47, 79-48

  • June 27, 1979
  • Robert Shuster
  • G. Gallup
  • Abraham Labiano

    Accessions: 79-121, 80-5, 80-34, 38-68, 80-107, 80-133, 80-163
  • July 3, 1981
  • Robert Shuster
  • Janyce Nasgowitz
  • Andrene Peterson

    Accession: 81-87
  • October 15, 1982
  • Frances L. Brocker
  • Janyce Nasgowitz

    Accession: 81-73
  • April 11, 1984
  • Frances L. Brocker
  • Janyce Nasgowitz

    August 1, 1990, revised
  • Robert Shuster
  • Lisa Ferguson

    Accessions: 84-82, 85-12, 85-112, 85-170, 86-18, 86-65, 87-165, 89-85, 90-91, 91-33, 91-62, 91-74, 93-43
  • December 1, 1997
  • Robert Shuster
  • M. Drobnick
  • N.J. Taussig

    May 20, 2003, revised
  • Bob Shuster
  • Title
    Collection 048 Records of Youth for Christ
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

    501 College Avenue
    Wheaton IL 60187 US