Billy Graham Center

Interview with Everett Mitchell - Collection 140

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Everett Mitchell

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)



Transcript 1


Click to see the presentation ""Make This the Best Year of Our Lives": Scenes of Christian Ministry from the Year 1898.", which includes material from this collection.

Brief Description.
Interview with Mitchell, who as a teenager sang invitation songs at Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns. Mitchell discusses the rallies, Sunday, Ma Sunday, Gipsy Smith, Chicago saloons, Homer Rodeheaver, and his experiences with personal evanagelism in Japan and Korea during the Korean War.

Collection 140
[March 31, 2005]
Mitchell, Everett; 1898-1990
Interview; 1980

1 Reel of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Everett Mitchell was born on the west side of Chicago, March 15, 1898. His father was a vegetable farmer in what was then a rural area. Interested in music from his childhood, Mitchell was a vocalist. His voice changed when he was twelve, which cost him his place in the children's choir, but which gave him three years of experience as a baritone before he auditioned for Billy Sunday in 1913. The next four summers, Mitchell spent in the employ of Sunday, singing invitation songs at rallies and crusades. His last appearance with Sunday was in Chicago in 1918.

In 1923, Mitchell auditioned as a radio vocalist for Chicago station KYW, beginning a thirty-eight year career in radio broadcasting. In his career, Mitchell worked for stations WQJ, WEBH, WMAQ, WENR, and WHT. His program was the National Farm and Home Hour, sponsored by Allis Chalmers farm equipment company. The phrase "It's a beautiful day in Chicago" was coined by him in 1932 at the depths of the Depression; it was originally intended as a spirit-builder.

An extensive traveller, Mitchell was a war correspondent in the Korean War, and journeyed to the Orient, Europe and Russia on federal government missions.

Mitchell married in 1951 to Clara Christenson, and they were the parents of one son, Peter Michael. The couple retired to Wheaton, Illinois where Everett died on November 9, 1990.

Scope and Content

Everett Mitchell was interviewed by Galen Wilson on September 18, 1980, at the Billy Graham Center. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not the reel-to-reel original.

Tape 1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Introduction
00:30 Birth; his doctor's tale about his birth
05:00 Career in radio; KYW, 1923; early days of radio
06:30 WENR, 1924, owned by E. N. Rollins
07:35 Later radio career
08:40 Description of the kind of music he sang; his voice changes
09:45 Voice lessons
10:15 Billy Sunday
11:00 Pacific Garden Mission
11:25 Gipsy Smith; singing at the "Bucket of Blood" Saloon
12:20 Meets Billy Sunday at Winona Lake
14:10 Singing invitation songs; "Softly and Tenderly"--Sunday's favorite
15:10 Sunday's staging of his rallies; Mitchell dressed in knickers for effect
16:15 Mitchell's last year with Sunday; Chicago, 1918 (Mitchell incorrectly states the year as 1916)
16:35 "Hitting the sawdust trail"
17:30 Sunday's organization of rallies
17:55 Sunday as an alcoholic; description of the old-fashioned saloon
19:10 Sunday's conversion and subsequent abstinence
20:40 Chicago saloons
21:20 Personal observations of Sunday; Mitchell's evaluation of him, and of his preaching style
23:15 Mitchell's memories of singing invitations and Sunday's reaction
24:10 Sunday's lay-psychology and his philosophical side
24:50 Sunday confronts saloon-keepers
26:00 Sunday's theology; sermon inviting Satan to fight
27:10 "Sectional meetings" in Chicago, 1918
28:55 Relations with other churches, especially Roman Catholic; Sunday's refusal to slander Catholic church
30:15 Ma Sunday
31:10 Mitchell's financial arrangements and duties
33:10 The Sunday children
34:15 Sunday's sermon topics
35:25 How invitations were conducted and Mitchell's role as a singer
36:20 Acoustics in tabernacles and necessity of enunciation
38:05 Homer Rodeheaver and relations with Sunday
40:45 Accompaniment
41:30 Billy Sunday's favorite hymns
42:50 Towns where crusades were held
43:40 Ames, Iowa, reception of Sunday
44:30 End of side 1

Tape 1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 [Overlap from side 1]
00:40 General operations of a crusade
02:10 Sunday's delivery
02:45 The private Billy Sunday
04:35 World's hunger for the Bible
05:55 Trip to Russia, 1951; Soviet plan to overthrow the West
07:05 Finland, 1951; pleas for prayer from a Christian there
09:00 Mitchell's career as a war correspondent in Korea and the opportunities to witness there
09:40 Birth of phrase "It's a beautiful day in Chicago"
12:35 Interview with a Nazi prisoner
14:15 Visit to Hiroshima after the bomb; Japanese government under Douglas MacArthur
17:25 Singing for Gipsy Smith; description of Smith
18:30 Women evangelists for whom Mitchell sang
19:25 Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Center
20:10 How Mitchell was introduced to Billy Sunday by Pacific Garden Mission people
21:25 Sunday's family life; affections for mother, Ma Sunday, and family
22:30 Ma Sunday
23:00 Sunday's reaction to smear tactics of opponents
23:35 Sunday's ignoring of politics; Mitchell's opinion of politics in relation to use by evangelists
24:10 Mitchell's relation with Sunday after he no longer sang with him
27:40 Size of crowds at rallies
28:00 Sunday's illustrations
29:20 Richard Crabb's biography of Mitchell in process of preparation
31:00 Mitchell's interview with Pope Pius XII
33:25 End of tape


Accession 80-123
May 2, 1981
Galen R. Wilson
L. Detweiler

Accession 80-123
Type of material: Audio Tape

The following item is located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE. Request by the T# at the beginning of the entry below.

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 76 minutes. Interview of Everett Mitchell by Galen R. Wilson, September 17, 1980.

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