Billy Graham Center

Papers of Robert William Roberts - Collection 101


[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent.
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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)

List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)

Brief Description.
Correspondence, account books, photographs, and other records mostly concerned with Roberts' tasks as a worker for the American Sunday School Union from 1907 to 1913.

Collection 101
[April 11, 2001]
Roberts, Robert William; 1875-1964
Papers; 1907-1916, 1964, n.d.

1 Box (RC, 1.1 cubic feet), Photographs


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Roberts was born in Camroden, New York, on August 25, 1875, to Ellis and Elizabeth Jones Roberts. Upon completing his education at Storrs College in Connecticut, the University of Wisconsin, and the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, he became a missionary for the American Sunday School Union with the task of starting or teaching Sunday schools in rural communities in Illinois (1907-1908), Wisconsin (1909-1911), and Minnesota (1911-1913). He also served for a brief time as an evangelist. In 1911, he was ordained into the Baptist church. After leaving the Union in 1913 he pastored Baptist churches in Minnesota (Canby), Wisconsin (Brainerd), and New York (Bartlett, South Trenton, North Gage, and Unadilla Forks). In 1908 he married Josephine VanDerVoort and they had three children: Dorothy (Mrs. William Griffith), Dwight, and Marjorie (Mrs. Albert Frost). They also brought into their home three foster children: Josephine (Mrs. William Abbe), Marjorie (Mrs. Joseph Krasko), and Alvin Anderson.

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means "Box 2, Folder 5"]

Scope and Content

Most of the records in the collection date to Roberts' career as a worker for the American Sunday School Union from 1907-1913. A few items are from his post-1913 career. The bulk of the collection is made up of his account books with one folder each of commissions, correspondence, obituaries, ordination records, and temperance materials and several photographs in the photo file. The files are arranged alphabetically according to title. The material within each file is arranged chronologically where possible.

The accounts which Roberts kept from 1907-1913 each contain three sections. The first section is a detailed listing of Roberts' activities. Each day is summarized in one line and each month occupies one page. Two columns on the right contain the daily tally of miles traveled and of families visited. The great variety of the work can be studied through these brief synopses. Next comes the monthly reports, each of which occupies two pages. These reports are mainly concerned with the statistics of the various Sunday schools Roberts started and led. Statistics such as number of teachers, number of pupils, name of superintendent, etc., are included. Finally comes the accounts current, one page per month, which lists the financial credits and expenses. Each account book also contains several pages of instructions explaining what is expected from each worker in the way of reports, accounts, claims, and letters to supporters.

Other files also contain documents of his Sunday school work. Folder 1-8 has the commissions given to Roberts at regular intervals by the Union. These briefly define his duties. Folder 1-9 contains letters written to Roberts by friends or notes written about Roberts as references. Some letters, such as those from Adam Green of Illinois and George Stauke of South Dakota describe how the schools founded by Roberts are progressing. Other letters are from the Union's secretary of missions, G. P. Williams, who wrote to Roberts on both Union and personal matters. A particularly interesting record is in folder 1-11 which contains documents of Roberts' ordination including his statement of beliefs and his description of his call to the ministry.

The photographs in the collection show Roberts and his bride as young people and also group pictures of several of his Sunday schools.

There are a few items dated after 1913. Among them are a handbill and a petition illustrating Roberts' leadership in the fight for temperance in Canby, Minnesota. Another item is a xerox copy of several newspaper obituaries published after Roberts' death.


The materials for this collection were received by the Center in January 1980 from Marge Frost, Roberts' daughter.

Accession 80-13, 80-15, 80-16

January 31, 1980
Robert Shuster
S. Kouns

Accession: 80-13
Type of material: Photographs

The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

AMERICAN SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION. Group photographs of various Sunday schools, a church dinner, and a sleeping and living tent; n.d. 12 b&w.

ROBERTS, ROBERT WILLIAM. Portraits of Roberts, one with his wife Josephine shortly after their wedding; 1901, 1908, n.d. 4 b&w.



Box Folder Description
Account Books
1 1 June 1907 - February 1908
1 2 March 1908 - February 1909
1 3 March 1909 - February 1910
1 4 March 1910 - February 1911
1 5 March 1911 - February 1912
1 6 March 1912 - February 1913
1 7 March 1913 - October 1913
1 8 Commissions; May 1907 - October 1915
1 9 Correspondence; December 1908 - January 1916
1 10 Obituaries; 1964
1 11 Ordination Records; March-November 1911
1 12 Temperance materials; ca. 1914

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Last Revised: 4/11/01
Expiration: indefinite