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Collection 264 Records of Pioneer Ministries

Identifier: CN 264

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, reports, photos, slides, tapes, curriculum materials, manuals, etc., relating to the work of the PM (formerly Pioneer Girls) in North American Churches. Materials document PM's early history, camping program (philosophy and history of Camp Cheriths and reference materials used to operate a camp and train camp staff), communications functions depicting the variety of tools used to communicate news and information to participants in its programs, orientation materials for field staff and volunteers, leadership development, missions emphasis, curriculum materials (including Spanish editions), public relations, publishing, research about PM or those it served, and a program to encourage and coordinate planned giving.


  • Created: 1939-1983

Conditions Governing Access

Copyrights to any published work held by Pioneer Ministries were retained by the donor.There are no other restrictions on the use of this collection. Forms to be sent to the contact person should be obtained from the staff in the Reading Room.Requests for copyright information should be directed to:

Pioneer Clubs

27W 130 St. Charles Rd.

Wheaton, IL 60187

Historical Information

Pioneer Clubs, an organization with a nationwide program for working with young people in local churches, began in 1939 as an effort to provide for the needs of girls and young women. Several years earlier Joe Coughlin, seeing the needs of the boys in his Sunday school class in Wheaton, Illinois, began holding meetings for Bible study and recreation for boys in his Sunday school class; these evolved into the Christian Service Brigade. It was through Coughlin's influence that Betty Whitaker Bouslough, a student at Wheaton College, held the first Girls Guild club in 1939. In 1940, Girls Guild was given some office space in the facilities of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. In 1941, Girls Guild was renamed Pioneer Girls and also adopted its slogan for ministry, "Christ in every phase of a girls life." From the beginning, Girls Guild was a division of Christian Service Brigade. Pioneer Girls, first incorporated with a constitution in 1943, remained a division of the Brigade until 1944. Also in 1943, Pioneer Girls appointed its first General Secretary, Lois Thiessen. Previously, leadership of Pioneer Girls' was shared by a number of women, who along with Bouslough included Carol Erickson, Louise Troup, and Viola Waterhouse. It was also at this time that Herbert J. Taylor, a Christian business executive and sponsor of numerous Christian organizations, provided Pioneer Girls with regular capital and office space in Chicago's Civic Opera Building.

Since its formal beginning in 1943, Pioneer Clubs had the following directors:

Lois Thiessen, General Secretary 1943-1946

Judith Carlson, Acting General Secretary 1946-1947

Elizabeth C. Montague, General Secretary 1947-1951

Joy Mc Kay, General Secretary 1951-1960

Louise Troup, Executive Director 1961-1968

Joseph P. Bubar, Acting Director 1968-1969

Richard A. Armstrong, Acting Director 1969-1970

Virginia Patterson, President 1970-

Pioneer Clubs also had its offices in a number of different locations, although these were all in the Chicago area:

Civic Opera Building, Chicago 1943-1944

53 West Jackson Street, Chicago 1944-1954

5334 West Addison Street, Chicago 1954-1962

111 North Cross Street, Wheaton 1962-1974

27W 130 St. Charles Road., Wheaton 1974-

An established feature of the Pioneer Girls program was its emphasis on camping. The first camp, Camp Ukatagi, was held in Aurora, Illinois, in 1940. The following year the first Camp Cheriths, which Pioneer Ministry camps were thereafter called, were held, one in Volo, Illinois, and other near Pontiac, Michigan. Camp Cherith was named for the experience of Elijah when escaping the drought and famine of Israel during King Ahab's reign, as described in 2Kings 17. In 1971, with the continued expansion of the camping program, the camps around the country were incorporated as separate organizations, and then linked to Pioneer Girls through a license agreement. By 1983, there were nineteen such camps around the United States.

Pioneer Girls was established to provide a weekly activity program for young people in local churches, whether from the church or the surrounding community. This program aimed to stimulate growth in all areas of life, provide recreation, and offer an environment in which to learn to live a Christ-centered life. The program consisted of weekly meetings, summer camping, leadership training conferences, an emphasis on missions, an achievement program for individual development, and an offering of published materials for both participants and leaders, including handbooks, devotional guides, program curriculum, books and pamphlets. Pioneer Girls also produced a number of periodicals in newsletter and magazine form, each for varying lengths of time, after which some were phased out or replaced by another title. Waggin' Tongue was introduced in 1943 to provide church club leaders guides with leadership training tips. Hitchin' Post also started in 1943, written for girls in Pioneer clubs. Trail Notes, targeted for church committee members, began in 1951. Trails, a magazine written for girls, was first presented in 1964, and followed in 1970 by Reflection, a similar magazine aimed at teenage girls. Perspective was started in 1967 to provide program plans and instructions for leaders of clubs.

Club programs were structured not unlike those of the Boy or Girl Scouts. Programs included achievement programs, handbooks, merit badges, uniforms, and a rank structure by age. These ranks were modified during the organization's history as follows:

1943 - Pilgrim (initially 3rd-6th grade; 2nd grade later added)

Colonist (7th-9th grade)

Explorer (10th-12th grade)

1974 - Voyager (2nd grade)

Lavalier (3rd, 4th grade)

Trailblazer (5th-7th grade)

Shikari (7th-9th grade)

Explorer (9th-12th grade)

1980 - Voyager/Skipper (2nd grade girls/boys)

Lavalier/Sprinter (3rd and 4th grade girls/boys)

Trailblazer/Pathfinder (5th-7th grade girls/boys)

Shikari/Courier (junior high girls/boys)

Explorer (senior high girls/boys)

While Pioneer Girls maintained a regular staff, its program in a local church depended on the support of volunteer help, ranging from "guides" (leaders of a particular club), to "pals" (people who assume responsibility for a particular girl in a club), and a committee within the church to oversee the program. Field representatives provided personal assistance for these workers by teaching courses, visiting clubs and directing camps.

Although Pioneer Girls limited the scope of its work to North America, it nonetheless encouraged the development of similar programs in other countries and provided leadership education and materials to assist these sister movements, which were then tailored to local needs. Even in North America Pioneer Girls did not seek to retain administrative control of the movement in other countries, as in the case of Canada, where in 1973 Pioneer Girls was incorporated as an autonomous organization.

A major institutional modification began in 1979 when Pioneer Girls coordinated a number of pilot clubs for boys. The following year, Pioneer Girls changed its name to Pioneer Ministries and began a program for boys paralleling its long established program for girls. Following this restructuring, Pioneer Ministries consisted of three divisions: Pioneer Clubs (including Pioneer Girls and Pioneer Boys), Leader Enrichment, and Camp Cherith Camping. Beginning in 1939 with a handful of girls in one club, Pioneer Ministries by 1983 was working with an estimated eighty-five thousand young people in over seven thousand clubs. In 1995 Pioneer Clubs became the official name of the entire organization.


8 Boxes

17 Audio Tapes

5 Filmstrips

1 Slide File

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[NOTE: In the Arrangement description, the notation "folder 2-1" means box 2, folder 1.]

This collection consists of manuals, correspondence, reports, photographs, slides, audio tapes, curriculum materials, a film, and other materials related to Pioneer Clubs' work among girls and boys in North America and the work of related movements in countries outside North America.

The organization of the records in the collection has remained as it was received from the donor. Classifications of all but several of the major subsections of the records were also created by the donor. Materials not in folders when received from the donor were placed in folders; titles for these folders have been provided by the archivist. Duplicates have been returned to the donor. The container list of this guide describes the contents of each box in a general way. The researcher should therefore note the more in-depth notes which follow.

These records have been divided into the following subseries, and will be described here in the order in which they have been arranged.

General Office Program Materials Camping Promotion Communications Publications Field Staff and Volunteers Research Leaders Stewardship Missions

The researcher should note that while these files contain some correspondence, it is minimal and printed materials predominate in the collection.

I. General Office; 1943-1978, undated, 18 folders.

These files contain administrative materials as well as those more commonly thought of as historically important. The first and subsequent constitutions, dating from 1943 to 1972, can be found in folder 1-1. Folder 1-2 includes 1945 and 1946 letters from Viola Waterhouse and Betty Bouslough, recalling the very early days of Pioneer Clubs. Tape T3, an interview with Betty Bouslough, also covers the beginning days of the movement. Folders 1-3 and 1-4 contain the reports of the General Secretary to members of the board from 1944 through 1954. Folder 1-6 contains a registration book which lists the churches utilizing the Pioneer Clubs programs between 1944 and 1965. Folder 1-7 includes photographs of Pioneer Girls' activities, among which are photographs of meetings held in Pierce Chapel of Wheaton College, one of which is of V. Raymond Edman speaking at the podium. When Pioneer Girls moved into its facility on St. Charles Road in Wheaton in 1974, it compiled a scrapbook for the event, contained in folder 1-8. Among the items in the book are notes on the organization's history, particularly concerning the various facilities Pioneer Clubs had used for its offices.

Folder 1-9 through 1-11 respectively document the 25th, 35th, and 40th anniversary celebrations of Pioneer Clubs; these also include background information on the organization. Pioneer Girls Week, a week of celebration and emphasis on organizational visibility by girls from clubs in the schools where they attend, has been held since 1946. Materials documenting these annual events are contained in folder 1-15. Folder 1-17 consists of material on Project Update, a three-year project to update methods and printed materials used by the organization. An audio-visual production on Project Update is also included in the collection. For information on this, refer to section "VIII: Publications" and to the Separation Records of this guide. Film F2 on Pioneer Girls' work in the 1940's is also included in the collection.

II. Camping; 1941-1983, undated, 36 folders.

These files contain a variety of items which document the philosophy and history of Camp Cheriths, as well as reference materials used to operate a camp and train camp staff. Folder 1-19 contains the manual, Building Camps by Boards, to assist the corporation boards of the various camps. Folders 1-21 through 1-31 consist of late 1970's camp curriculum for various age groups. Folder 1-32, entitled "Camp History," consists of a variety of items which document the development of the Camp Cherith program. These include an undated camping manual, a 1943 information and procedure booklet for campers, a 1965 Camp Cherith report, and a program book from the 1961 meeting of the National Camp Council.

Camp brochures from 1941 to 1972 can be found in folder 1-33. Training materials for camp staff and counsellors are located in folders 1-34 through 2-1. Of particular interest is a manual, Campers in Leadership Training in folder 2-1. A number of other manuals are also included, such as The Camp Cherith Activity Manual; 1958, 1968, and 1978 editions of To The Counselor; a 1958 and several earlier but undated editions of Camping Pioneer Girls Style, as well as manuals for the camp operation committee, the division director, the camp director and the Cherith Board Trustees.

III. Communications; 1943-1981, undated, 14 folders.

A variety of tools were used by Pioneer Girls to communicate news and information to participants in its programs at various levels. Among the items included in folders 2-17 through 2-29 are copies of Hitchin' Post, Pioneer Girls Log, Compass, Trail Notes, Contact, Pal Newsletter and Waggin' Tongue. Staff prayer letters from 1943 to 1967 can be found in folder 2-30.

IV. Field and Volunteer Staff; 1959-1977, undated, 2 folders.

Pioneer Clubs rely on the work of volunteers in implementing its program. Folder 2-31 contains 1967, 1973, and 1976 editions of the Volunteer Staff Manual, as well as 1959 and 1962 editions of its predecessor, Fort Captain's Manual. These volumes were intended to orient volunteers to the organization, and contain historical overviews as well as descriptions of philosophy and organizational structure. Audio tape T17, "Volunteers Influencing People," also provides information on Pioneer Clubs' volunteer program. Folder 2-32 simply contains the prayer cards of various field staff; these cards, although largely undated, provide some information on Pioneer Girls' staff, which is particularly helpful in light of the absence of personnel files of any kind in the collection.

V. Leaders; 1951-1980, undated, 20 folders.

These files consist largely of manuals for leaders in various aspects of Pioneer Clubs' programs, ranging from the 1965 The Pioneer Girls Committee, 1951 AND 1962 editions of the Guide's Workbook, course manuals for club guides, including a 1960 Canadian edition and 1982 and 1983 editions of Guide Lines, the Pioneer Girls Committee Course, Pioneer Girls Leaders' Handbook, and Making Your Pal Program Work. While most of the collection consists of material predating the organizational restructuring which incorporated boys into the overall program, folder 3-20 contains a leader orientation manual for the pilot project for boys clubs. Incidentally, folders 1-13 and 1-14 also contain material pertinent to this section, the first on Explorer Leadership Conferences, and the latter on leaders' retreats.

VI. Missions; 1962-1977, undated, 5 folders.

One of the aspects of the Christian life Pioneer Clubs emphasizes is the importance of missions. Folders 3-21 through 3-25 include some materials used to encourage and coordinate an interest in missionary work, such as the volume, Making Missions Meaningful, the manual, Go Ye: Missions Plans, Resources and Ideas for Clubs, and copies of the newsletter, Girls' Work Worldwide.

VII. Program Materials; 1939-1983, undated, 141 folders.

Program materials make up the largest section of the collection and consist mainly of all the program and curriculum materials used by leaders of and girls in clubs. Also included are Spanish editions of several manuals in folder 3-30, early handbooks in folder 3-31, including the original manuscript of the 1939 Girls Guild handbook, as well as other volumes since, and program handbooks in folder 3-32 for coordinating craft, nature study, and games programs, special activities and singing.

Folders 3-33 through 6-6 consist of materials used from 1951 through 1973, such as the series of Bible study materials called Bible Explorations, program plans and supplements for leaders, and handbooks for club members. These materials are divided by age group, with the Pilgrim materials being found in folders 3-33 through 4-25, those for Colonists in 4-26 through 5-16, and for Explorers from 5-17 through 6-6. With the revision of the rank structure in 1974, new materials were also produced, and these can be found in folders 6-7 through 7-20 as follows: Voyagers and Lavaliers material (folders 6-7 to 6-17), Trailblazers (6-18 to 6-28), Shikari (6-29 to 6-35) and Explorers (7-1 to 7-12). With the inclusion of boys in the programs in 1980, the materials were again revised, and these can be found in folders 7-13 through 7-20.

VIII. Promotion; 1942-1981, undated, 9 folders.

These files give a brief overview of the promotional strategy used by Pioneer Girls and include such varied materials as its promotional brochures (folder 7-21), editions of the introductory booklet, Organizing Pioneer Girls (folder 7-22), 1980 through 1983 annual reports (folder 7-24), 1960 and 1974 "Design Packets," which consist of materials to be sent to churches considering establishing club programs (folders 7-25 and 8-1), and catalogs from 1956 to 1981, which include items which could be purchased, ranging from books to club uniforms and badges to jewelry (folder 8-2). Film F1, Pioneer Girls in Action, is a promotional film on a church's use of the Pioneer Girls program.

IX. Publications; 1948-1982, undated, 19 folders.

These files generally cover the publishing department of the organization, and include both items published and guidelines used in producing all organization materials. Folder 8-8 contains 1969 and 1975 style manuals for use with all publications. A number of short adventure novels written for girls can be found in folder 8-10. Songbooks from 1955 through 1978 are located in folder 8-11, and scripts for a number of short plays will be found in folder 8-18. This section also includes copies of the devotional booklet, Morning Watch, from 1952 to 1962 (folder 8-16) and a follow-up booklet, In Touch with God, for use with new converts (folder 8-21). Pioneer Clubs have also developed a number of audio-visual productions for promotional or recruitment purposes. Scripts for several of these can be found in folders 8-12, 8-14, and 8-15. The audio and visual components of these productions can be found listed in the Separation Records of this guide.

X. Research; 1968-1977, 5 folders.

This section of materials consists of items produced by the study of Pioneer Clubs or the study of the group it aims to serve. Research: Trends in American Society (folder 8-23) was the resulting report of a planning conference in 1972, held to discuss the ten- to fifteen-year direction of the organization. Folder 8-24 consists of Eunice Russell's 1959 masters thesis, The Development of Pioneer Girls Philosophy, and is followed in folder 8-25 by a 1964 edition of that work, produced for distribution within the organization. Folder 8-26 contains Sara Robertson's 1977 doctoral dissertation, A Description of Pioneer Girls: An International Religious Club Program. Finally, a 1971 manuscript, A Profile of Today's Girl, which includes an implementation and recommendations section, can be found in folder 8-27.

XI. Stewardship; 1968-1977, undated, 3 folders.

This brief section consists of a variety of items, the most notable of which is a selection of brochures and pamphlets in folder 8-29, used to encourage planned giving through wills and estates and considering such topics as taxes and revocable giving plans.

Accruals and Additions

The materials for this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center Archives in December 1981 and December 1983 from Pioneer Clubs.

Accession 81-148, 83-146

November 26, 1984

Paul A. Ericksen

S. Geitgey

J. Nasgowitz

Revised, July 30, 1986 Paul A. Ericksen

J. Nasgowitz

Related Materials

The following items were transferred to the Evangelism & Missions Collection, Buswell Library:

Anderson, Virginia. A Restless Redhead and God (Wheaton:Pioneer Girls, 1968)

Pioneer Girls Leaders' Magazine Vol. 1-1; 1967

Pioneer Girls Perspective Vol. 1-2 through 1-4; 1967 Vol. 2-1 through 2-4; 1968 Vol. 3-1 through 3-4; 1969 (3-2 misnumbered as 4-2) Vol. 4-1 through 4-4; 1970 (Fall & Winter issues both labeled 4-3) Vol. 4-4; 1971 Vol. 5-1 through 5-4; 1971-1972 Vol. 6-1 through 6-4; 1972-1973 Vol. 7-1 through 7-4; 1973-1974 Vol. 8-1 through 8-4; 1974-1975 Vol. 9-1 through 9-4; 1975-1976 Vol. 10-1 through 10-4; 1976-1977 Vol. 11-1 through 11-4; 1977-1978 Vol. 12-1 through 12-4; 1978-1979 Vol. 13-1 through 13-4; 1979-1980 Vol. 14-1 through 14-4; 1980-1981 Vol. 15-1 through 15-4; 1981-1982 Vol. 16-1 through 16-4; 1982-1983 Vol. 17-1 through 17-2; 1983

Reflection Vol. 12-1 through 12-10; 1972 Vol. 13-1 through 13-9; 1973 Vol. 14-1 through 14-6; 1974 Vol. 15-1 through 15-6; 1975 Vol. 16-1 through 16-6; 1976 Vol. 17-1 through 17-6; 1977 Vol. 18-1 through 18-6; 1978 Vol. 19-1 through 19-6; 1979 Vol. 20-1 through 20-6; 1980 Vol. 21-1 through 21-6; 1981 Vol. 22-1 through 22-6; 1982

Trails Vol. 4-9; 1964 Vol. 12-1 through 12-10; 1972 Vol. 13-1 through 13-9; 1973 Vol. 14-1 through 14-6; 1974 Vol. 15-1 through 15-6; 1975 Vol. 16-1 through 16-6; 1976 Vol. 17-1 through 17-6; 1977 Vol. 18-1 through 18-6; 1978 Vol. 19-1 through 19-6; 1979 Vol. 20-1, 20-3 through 20-6; 1980 Vol. 21-1 through 21-6; 1981 Vol. 22-1 through 22-6, Introductory Issue; 1982 Vol. 23-1 through 23-6; 1983

The following items were transferred to the BGC Museum:

Accession 81-148, 83-146

Pioneer Girls uniform, including beret, skirt, and blouse with badges; c. 1968.

Pioneer Girls badges (7); n.d.

Pioneer Girls pin (covered wagon)(1); n.d.

Pioneer Girls pin (service)(1); n.d.

Pioneer Girls pin (staff)(1); n.d.

Explorer award pins: 2 each of 3 opportunity pins 3 each of Leadership pin 1 Big Sister pin

Explorer award pins: 2 each of Camp Cherith Cilt Courier and Journeyman pins

Voyager award patches: 2 each of 24 patches

Trailblazer pins: 2 each of 13 pins ("You" pin missing from set)

Shikari award pins: 2 each of 10 pins 1 of "Making Music" pin

Lavalier award patches: Communications arts - 2 each of 7 patches

Lavalier award patches: Art 'n' Crafts - 2 each of 12 patches

Lavalier award patches: Home and Family - 2 each of 7 patches

Lavalier award patches: Nature - 2 each of 11 patches

Lavalier award patches: Sports - 2 each of 10 patches

Lavalier award patches: People Puzzles - 2 each of 6 patches

Lavalier award patches: Bible and Life - 2 each of 7 patches

Collection 264 Records of Pioneer Ministries
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