Billy Graham Center
Archives

Papers of Philip James Elliot - Collection 277

[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.
In cases where an individual document (paper record, photo, audio recording, moving image recording, etc.) is online at the Archives’ Website, either the description of a specific item is underlined, or this symbol -- -- appears next to a general description to indicate that an item covered by that description is online. Clicking on the symbol or the underlining will link to the item. If there are two or more of these symbols -- -- that appear by a description, the number of symbols indicates the number of items covered by the description that are online, such as several different photos from a photo file.] Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan.

 

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Philip James Elliot

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

Lists of Audio Tapes and Microfilm in This Collection (Location Records)

    Audio Tapes
    Microfilm
    Photographs

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


*******

Part of this collection is available for inter-library loan. Click for more information.


An extract from Jim Elliot's journal

Audio recordings of Jim Elliot preaching

Other collections with information about Jim Elliot

Stamps from Box 2, Folder 8 of Collection 277

Collection 277
[August 26, 2009]
Elliot, Philip James; 1927-1956
Papers; 1941-1959

2 boxes (DC); Audio tapes (Volume: 1.02 cubic feet)

Brief Description.
Correspondence, journals, notebooks, school records, poems, clippings, drawings, and other materials describing the career of Elliot and his spiritual preparation for the mission field and death at the hands of Waorani Indians. Microfilm edition of materials available for researcher use.

Restrictions

Because of the fragile nature of many of the documents in this collection, only the microfilm copy may be used by researchers, not the originals.

 


Biography

Philip James Elliot was born October 8, 1927, in Portland, OR, to Fred and Clara L. Elliot, one of three brothers in a family which included Robert, Herbert, and a sister, Jane. His father was an itinerant non-sectarian evangelist in the Puget Sound area and his mother conducted a chiropractic practice. Their home was frequently visited by missionaries who were an important influence on the family. By the time he was about eight years old, Jim was aware of his salvation by Christ.

He attended Benson Polytechnic High School, 1941-1945, majoring in architectural drawing and participating in sports with the goal of building his body for the rigors of missionary life. He also began preaching during these years. In his senior year, he was elected vice president of his class.

Jim chose to attend Wheaton College because of his brother Bob's recommendation; he enrolled in the fall of 1945 with the goal of total commitment to God and the active pursuit of the disciplines involved. He was granted a scholarship and worked part-time to support his studies. Elliot joined the wrestling team at Wheaton and made varsity in his freshman year. He began speaking to youth groups in the Wheaton area, and in his junior year began a journal as another means of spiritual discipline. In the summer of that year, 1947, he stayed six weeks in Mexico with the missionary family of his friend, Ron Harris. There he learned Spanish and felt his own call directed toward mission work in Latin America.

In 1948, Elliot and some of his friends narrowly escaped death in a car-train accident on the tracks in Wheaton. That year he was president of Foreign Mission Fellowship on campus and part of a gospel team for the Fellowship during the summer. Elliot chose Greek as his major, and graduated with highest honors in 1949. He lived with relatives in Glen Ellyn during his College years and attended Lombard Gospel Chapel.

For a year following graduation, Elliot returned to the family home in Portland to concentrate on Bible study. He worked at odd jobs and learned to preach on street corners, in jails, and at Plymouth Brethren assemblies. His future wife and former Wheaton College student, Elisabeth Howard, paid a visit to the Elliots on her return from summer missionary work in Canada. In June of 1950, Elliot spent several weeks in Norman, OK, at the Summer Institute of Linguistics, sponsored by Wycliffe Bible Translators. There he worked with a former missionary to the Quichua Indians of Ecuador and first heard of the remote and much-feared Waorani tribe in that country. [The name commonly used for the tribe at the time was "Auca" and this was the name by which they were called in almost all the literature of the time period.] His response was immediate and, after a ten-day period of prayer for guidance, Elliot wrote to Dr. Wilfred Tidmarsh in Ecuador offering to come to that field. A recently abandoned station, Shandia, established for work with the Quichua Indians, was in need of staff.

Elliot stayed on in Oklahoma City to work with Bible study groups on the university campus; he applied for a passport on Dr. Tidmarsh's urging to come as soon as possible. In September of 1950, Ed McCully, another friend and Wheaton College student, wrote him indicating that he wanted to leave school and join a mission activity. The decision to go to Ecuador was postponed a year while Tidmarsh returned to England because they were unable to arrive in Ecuador before his necessary departure. During this period, Elliot preached, studied, and worked with youth in Huntington, IN, and Chester, IL, where Ed McCully and Bill Cathers joined him in working on a radio broadcast series, The March of Truth. Pete Fleming of Seattle, WA, also indicated an interest in going to Ecuador with Elliot. A visit to Portland from Tidmarsh confirmed the decision to work in Shandia and passport, visa, and draft board arrangements were made. Elisabeth Howard had also decided to do mission work in Ecuador, but she and Jim went as independent missionaries to separate assignments.

Preparations to leave for Ecuador occupied the second half of 1951; included was an itinerary through the East speaking to acquaint Plymouth Brethren there with the work and to raise support from those groups. Elliot and Fleming sailed to Ecuador on the Santa Juana on February 4, 1952, and Jim made his first journal entry on February 27 in Quito. Elisabeth Howard arrived in Quito in April, 1952, to study language, tropical diseases, and medical work.

In June, the first aerial search of the Oriente territory where the Shandia station and the Quichua and Waorani tribes were located was made from the Mission Aviation Fellowship station at Shell Mera. Waoranis had recently killed five persons in that area. Shell Mera had been abandoned by Shell Oil Company as too dangerous a location because of the Waoranis' hostility and the killing of Shell personnel. Elliot and Fleming moved to Shandia in September 1952.

In February 1953, both Elliot and Elisabeth Howard came into Quito from their separate stations and agreed to marry. A flood had destroyed part of the Shandia station and the need to rebuild confirmed their decision. They were married on October 8, 1953, Jim's 26th birthday, in a civil ceremony in Quito. Their first home was a tent set up at a river junction called Puyupungu. There they set up a school for a family of Indian children. A new location for the airstrip at Shandia was selected, and a home completed. Elliots' daughter, Valerie, was born February 27, 1955, and in that month the Flemings, Elliots, and McCullys were together in Shandia for a conference for the Indians.

With the assistance of MAF pilot, Nathanael "Nate" Saint, Elliot and McCully located the first Waorani huts in the jungle near Arajuno in September that year. The Waoranis had recently killed a mother and two children in this area. This sighting firmed determination of the men to attempt contact, and weekly "drops" of gifts to the Waoranis from the plane were begun in October. As plans developed, Roger Youderian, a missionary working in Jivaria, was asked to join the men. Pete Fleming was the fifth man of the group hoping to make contact with the tribe.

Using a battery-operated speaker, the men made thirteen trips over the area, broadcasting words of friendship in the Waorani language and dropping such gifts as buttons, a kettle, a machete, and tinted photographs of each man. The Waoranis responded by sending back a parrot and feathered head-dresses in the drop bucket. Encouraged by these responses, the men decided to find a suitable landing strip for the plane. They selected a sandy beach, which they named "Palm Beach", on the Curaray River and made a successful landing on January 2, 1956. After four trips to bring in a radio and other supplies, they built a tree shelter and began shouting Waorani phrases into the jungle. Four days later, two Waorani women and a young Waorani man came out of the jungle. They appeared friendly, and "George" was given a brief ride in the airplane. The following day was spent quietly and without contacts.

On Sunday, January 8, after songs, prayers, and a service, the men radioed their wives at 12:30 p.m. that contacts were expected by mid-afternoon and they would radio again at 4:30 p.m. When there was no radio message at that hour, a search and rescue operation began. Flight over the area showed a damaged plane, and a ground search party left for the area. Planes and a helicopter from the Ecuadorian Air Force and the U. S. Army, Air Force, and Navy flew in for aerial search. The ground and air groups met on January 13 at Curaray Beach.

Jim Elliot's body was found downstream with three others. They had been killed by wooden lances and machetes, and the plane's fabric was ripped off and body damaged. Nate Saint's watch had stopped at 3:12 p.m. Because of the danger of another Waorani attack, the burial service lasted only three minutes. The Army party came out by canoe or helicopter over a two-day period, spending one day trekking through Waorani territory.

The deaths of the five men--Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian-were reported world-wide, and they were regarded by many as twentieth-century martyrs. Elisabeth Elliot returned to Shandia and resumed the work of her husband. She subsequently wrote three books about the mission work and its consequences: Through Gates of Splendor, a biography of her husband, Shadow of The Almighty, and The Savage My Kinsman. She also edited The Journals of Jim Elliot. Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint went to live with the Waorani group in 1959. One of the Waorani tribe members later explained to the missionaries that "George" had told them that the white men planned to eat them, and that they would not otherwise have killed the men.


Scope and Content

[Note: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "folder 2-5" means box 2, folder 5.]

The materials in this collection consist of records dated from the completion of Jim Elliot's elementary school years, 1941, through December, 1955, eight days before his death in Ecuador, with a few documents from later years. Two Bibles and a Greek New Testament belonging to Jim Elliot will be found in the Graham Center Museum. In several places in Elliot's journals, comments have been cut out. The journals were in this condition when received by the Archives.

Typed excerpts from Elliot's letters home, assembled with topics and dates, are in folder 1-2. They date from his freshman year at Wheaton College. The entry of April, 1948, comments on a near-death escape on the railroad tracks near Wheaton College. A newspaper clipping of this event is in folder 2-1. Folder 2-11 contains a very interesting set of letters of correspondence with the Williams Community Church of William, Oregon, USA. The Williams church helped support his and his wife’s missionary work. Elliot had visited the church and had friends there, including the pastor Virgil Terry and the treasurer Clifford I. Kurtz. Elliot wrote to the church briefly but fairly regularly, describing his work, future plans, and the way God was working in his life. After his death, Elisabeth continued the correspondence until 1959, describing the community of Christians among the Waorani and her own work and Rachel Saint’s work among them.

Elliot's abilities as an artist are reflected in the calligraphy and drawings, as well as in the architectural design for the home built in Shandia, Ecuador (folder 1-3). Folder 1-4 contains a handwritten collection of Quichua hymns and songs in the Quichua language which were written collectively for their mission work by Wilfred Tidmarsh, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Elisabeth and Jim Elliot.

Of particular interest are Elliot's journals, Volumes I through IV (folders 1-6 through 1-9). They contain handwritten entries dated from January 17, 1948, during Elliot's junior year in college up to the final entry, December 31, 1955, shortly before his death on January 8, 1956. These journals were published in 1978, with minimal editing by Elisabeth Elliot. They provide a first-hand encounter with the depth of Elliot's commitment to Christ's commission and to mission work. Folders 2-2 and 2-3 are notebooks kept by Elliot and include an assortment of compositions and poems (folder 2-2) and addresses, language notations, biblical quotations and commentaries, financial notations, data useful to his mission work, drawings, and diary entries. A few clippings are in folder 2-1. Pages of the notebook in folder 2-3 are those retrieved from the beach after his death and are photocopies because of the original pages' fragility and rust and water stains. More poems, both original and collected or copied, are in folder 2-4. Also in the folder is a hand-written book of poems and verse by Elliot.

The publicity in folder 2-5 includes an article written by Elisabeth Howard Elliot's father after a visit to Shandia before the deaths. A Life magazine story describes the Waorani encounters from photos and diaries and the subsequent discovery and burial of the five men. Also in the story are the events involving the five widows immediately after the deaths of their husbands. The stamps issued in Ecuador honoring the men are in folder 2-8.

Audio tapes T1-T4 contain sermons that Jim Elliot preached in the United States shortly before going to Ecuador. Tape T5 contains messages the Elliot family in South America recorded for their families in the United States. One is by Jim and Elisabeth ca. 1953, the other by Elisabeth and Valerie, ca. 1962.

The materials in this collection, though not extensive, are valuable for their insight into the spiritual development and deep commitment of Jim Elliot which led him to accept the risks of the mission field and to seek encounter with the Waorani Indian tribe of Ecuador, which had a reputation for isolation and hostility.

Provenance

The materials for this collection were received by the Center in 1982 and 1998 from Elisabeth Elliot Gren. Three Bibles received with the other material in this collection were transferred to the BGC Museum. The letters in folder 2-11 were donated by the Williams Community Church of Williams, Oregon.

Accession 82-119
Frances L. Brocker
J. Nasgowitz

Revised March 24, 1995
R. Shuster

Updated July 21, 2003
Accession 98-38
R. Shuster

Updated: August 26, 2009
Accession 09-41
Bob Shuster
K. Hamilton
I. Smith




LOCATION RECORD
Accession: 98-38
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file.

R/C length Sides Contents Dates
T1 C 56 min 2 "Peter." Evangelistic sermon by Jim Elliot, on the Christian life and the necessity of evangelism, drawing on Peter's writing and life. Tape begins after sermon has started and concludes just before the final prayer. Sermon was broadcast over the radio program, The March of Truth from Cairo, Illinois. It seems to be a recording made when the sermon was preached before a congregation. The first part of the sermon is on side two, the conclusion on side 2. A reel copy of this tape was made from the cassette master. Ca. 1951
T2 C 33 min. 2 Side 1 - "The Feeding of the Five Thousand." Evangelistic sermon by Jim Elliot , based on Mark 6:30-44. Tape begins after sermon has started and concludes before the conclusion of the sermon. Side 2 - 3 minute fragment of a sermon on "God and the Twentieth century."Sermon was broadcast over the radio program, The March of Truth Cairo, Illinois. It seems to be a recording made when the sermon was preached before a congregation. A reel copy of this tape was made from the cassette master. ca. 1951
T3 C 57 min 2 "Christ as Prophet." Evangelistic sermon by Jim Elliot. Tape begins after sermon has started and concludes before the conclusion of the sermon. Sermon was broadcast over the radio program, The March of Truth Cairo, Illinois. It seems to be a recording made when the sermon was preached before a congregation. A reel copy of this tape was made from the cassette master. ca. 1951
T4 C 41 min. 2 "Resurrection" Evangelistic sermon by Jim Elliot. .Tape begins after sermon has started and concludes before the conclusion of the sermon. Sermon was broadcast over the radio program, The March of Truth Cairo, Illinois. It seems to be a recording made when the sermon was preached before a congregation. A reel copy of this tape was made from the cassette master. ca. 1951
T5 C 55 min 2 Side 1 - Tape apparently recorded by Jim and Elisabeth (Howard) Elliot during their honeymoon in Costa Rica to be sent to their families back in the United States describing the work in Ecuador. Ca.1953. Sound quality is very poor in parts and some of the tape cannot be understood. Side 2 - Messages from Elisabeth Elliot for her family, describing her work in Ecuador among the Waorani people and her life thereand that of her daughter. There is also a long segment by a male speaker, speaking in what is possibly the Waorani language. Tape mentioned Dayuma and includes an extended segment of Valerie speaking the Waorani (Auca) language. One part recorded in November 1961, another part in July 1962. Ca. 1953, 1961-1962


*****

LOCATION RECORD
Accession: None
Type of Material: Microfilm
For each item listed below, there are master and copy negatives and two positive copies; one complete set is in the BGC 3RD FLOOR MICROFILM CABINETS:


Microfilm copy of Philip James Eliot Papers made February 1995 of material in the collection at that time. 35mm, 12x reduction on silver halide film. The complete collection is on one reel.

*****

LOCATION RECORD
Accession: 09-41
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.


ELLIOT, P. JAMES - 3 b&w. Portrait photo of Elliot, picture of Valerie Elliot in her playpen, picture of the school Elliot helped start in Puyupungu, Ecuador.



CONTAINER LIST
Box Folder Item
1 1 Address book; n.d.
2 11 Correspondence: Williams Community Church; 1953-1959
1 2 Correspondence excerpts; 1945-1948
1 3 Drawings; n.d.
Hymnal
1 4 Guderno Colon; n.d.
1 5 Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship; n.d.
Journal
1 6 Volume I; January 17, 1948 - September 25, 1948
1 7 Volume II; July 28, 1948 - March 9, 1949
1 8 Volume III; March 11, 1949 - August 15, 1950
1 9 Volume IV: August 25, 1950 - December 31, 1955
2 1 Newspaper clipping; 1948
Notebook
2 2 1943-1944
2 3 ? - 1956 (photocopies of original)
2 4 Poems; 1948-1953, n.d.
2 5 Publicity: Ecuador; 1955-1956
School records
2 6 Portland, Oregon; 1941-1945
2 7 Wheaton College; 1949
2 8 Stamps: Quito, Ecuador; 196?
2 9 Letter, McCully, M. to Elliots, Flemings; 1955
2 10 Tract: A Challenge To Faith; n.d.

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 7/29/03
Expiration: indefinite