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National Christian Association (NCA) Records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC-029

Scope and Contents

The National Christian Association was founded in 1868 with the purpose of organizing Christian opposition to secret societies, i.e., oath-bound orders such as the Freemasons, Knights Templar, Oddfellows, and Knights of Pythias.  Researchers inquiring into the areas of Christian reform, fraternalism, and anti-secretism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries will find ample material in this collection.  In addition, The Christian Cynosure (1868-1983), the official organ of the Chicago-based NCA and Lodge Lamp (1894-1897), provided coverage of religious and anti-secret activity.

The archive of the National Christian Association cover the years from the organization's founding in 1868 to its disbanding in 1983.  Several prominent members of the NCA were Wheaton College personnel, and in 1984, the Board of Directors agreed to place its archive in the Buswell Memorial Library Special Collections.  The material was received early the next year through Rev. Fred Van Houghton, former NCA Board member.  Included among the records are: (1) Printed Material: books, pamphlets, leaflets, and periodicals (2) Corporate records: minutes, financial records, legal items, correspondence, etc. (3) The Christian Cynosure (1868-1937, 1957-1983), the official organ of the NCA (4) Memorabilia: Masonic regalia, embossers, and awards.

The order of most of the collection has been archivist-arranged, since original order appeared to have been lost.  The order of the subject files and index cards, which arrived in a filing cabinet, was maintained.

A significant gap exists in the run of The Christian Cynosure; the issues from the years 1937 to 1957 are lacking, except for a few single issues.  Board minutes prior to 1873 are lacking as are those for the years 1927-1940.  Little correspondence has survived, save for three letter books covering the years 1908-1913 and several letters from the 1970s.  Correspondence on certain topics may be found among the subject files.

The corporate records are uneven in their coverage.  Tax return information, for instance, is quite complete, while correspondence is scarce.  Documents concerning legal matters involving the NCA, mainly from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, are present.  Many of these are bequests, but litigation against the organization and legal assistance rendered to NCA sympathizers are also treated.  Other topics include the Carpenter Building (850 W. Madison, Chicago, the Association's headquarters), dealings with the City of Chicago, miscellaneous Cynosure matters, financial reports, and banking records.

In addition to the NCA documents, minutes of meetings of the Illinois State Christian Association and the Sabbath Association are also included in the collection.

A master pamphlet list is included later in this guide.  It includes all printed items in the collection of four pages or more.  Many of these items are housed in the subject files, but others are scattered throughout the other series.  This information is maintained on a computer data base and searching can be performed.  Ask a staff member for details.  An index to the early issues of the Cynosure is also available.


  • Created: 1868-2010
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1870-1983
  • Other: Date acquired: 1984


Conditions Governing Access

There are no specific restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Duplication may be restricted if copying could cause damage to items.


77 boxes

134 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged by series with folder level control.

Source of Acquisition

In 1984 the Board of Directors of the National Christian Association agreed to place its archive at Wheaton College.  The material was received in 1985 from Board member Rev. Fred Van Houghton.

Method of Acquisition


Other Descriptive Information

The National Christian Association was founded in 1868 with the purpose of organizing Christian opposition to oath-bound secret societies.  Holding these orders to be opposed to good morals and the Christian religion, the NCA held conventions, published anti-secret literature, and arranged addresses against the lodges.

The archive of the National Christian Association contains a wealth of material concerning secretism, and anti-secrecy of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.  The collection contains the corporate papers of the organization, a run of The Christian Cynosure (the official organ of the NCA), and many books, periodicals, and pamphlets from both fraternal and anti-fraternal sources.

The NCA collection is supplemented by other collections held in the Archives and Special Collections.  The papers of Jonathan Blanchard provide personal insight into one of the founders of the organization, while the papers and sermons of Charles Blanchard preserve the words and activities of one of its lecturers.  The Blanchard libraries and the Rare Book Collection include works of interest to those researching secret societies.

National Christian Association (NCA) Records
Buswell Library Special Collections Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

501 College Ave.
Wheaton IL 60187-5593 USA