Billy Graham Center

Interview with Elizabeth Morrell Evans - Collection 279

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Elizabeth Morrell Evans

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Transcript 1 Transcript includes a link to an audio file of the entire interview

Transcript 2 Transcript includes a link to an audio file of the entire interview

Transcript 3 Transcript includes a link to an audio file of the entire interview

Transcript 4 Transcript includes a link to an audio file of the entire interview

Transcript 5 Transcript includes a link to an audio file of the entire interview

Transcript 6 Transcript includes a link to an audio file of the entire interview

Brief Description.

Three oral history interviews with Evans in which she discusses her childhood; education at Wheaton College; work with J. Elwin Wright; her Christian education activities; the development of the New England Fellowship, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the World Evangelical Fellowship; and her work as a missionary in Taiwan. Interviews were recorded on 10/8/84, 8/26/85, and 8/27/85.

Collection 279
[Noveomber 26, 2008]
Evans, Elizabeth Morrell; 1899-1989
Interviews; 1984-1985

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Elizabeth was born March 18, 1899, in Lynchburg, Virginia, where her parents, Joseph Davis Evans and Elizabeth Hicks Morrell Evans, were involved in evangelistic and city mission work. She was the fourth of nine children. Her brothers and sisters were Joseph Davis, Lydia Moore (later Mrs. Herbert A. Jackson), Henry Clinton Morrell, Anna Jones (later Anna Atkinson), twins William Bright and Grace Morrell (later Grace Wallace), Kathryn Mathilda, and Eloise. In 1912 the family, after having lived in many different towns, settled in Nyack, New York. Elizabeth attended high school there and then the Missionary Institute (also in Nyack) from 1917 to 1919. She then went to Wheaton College in Illinois, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1922.

After graduation, Elizabeth taught for a year in an elementary school in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. She then heard of an urgent need for a teacher at the Bethesda children's home in West Rumney, New Hampshire, for which she applied and was accepted in 1923. The home had been founded and was run by local businessman James Elwin Wright and Elizabeth began a close association with him that lasted until 1955. Wright also had a real estate business in Florida and soon Elizabeth moved there to act as secretary. She, Wright, and her sister Anna were also involved in evangelistic and Sunday school work in the tourist camps around Orlando and Elizabeth operated a religious bookstore.

In 1929 Wright started the New England Fellowship (NEF). Elizabeth's sister, Kathryn, was the first staff member and Elizabeth was the second. In 1931 she became the NEF's director of Christian Education. She was involved in training teachers for vacation Bible schools all over the New England area as well as establishing programs for religious education in public schools in many states. By 1940 she was supervising teachers in DVBS and in rural schools who were teaching about 21,000 children a year. She also began taking courses which resulted in her receiving a Master's degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1946. Also in 1946 she took the lead in founding the first accredited Christian secondary school in New England, the Boston Christian High School (later the Lexington Christian Academy). She assisted in other areas of the Fellowship's activities, such as running the conference grounds' cafeteria.

She was very active in many Christian organizations in New England. In 1952, she became the assistant to the executive secretary (Wright) of the World Evangelical Fellowship. She was also a member of the Women's Fellowship and the Education Commission of the National Association of Evangelicals. She planned in 1956 to teach Christian education at the Biblical Seminary of India and serve as secretary to Dr. Everett Cattell, then president of the Evangelical Fellowship of India. However, she was refused permission to enter the country because of India's stricter policy toward missionaries, and went to Taiwan instead. After leading seminars there, she decided there was a continuing need for teacher training and decided to stay on as an independent missionary. Besides the training seminars she held, she was active in the Taiwan Evangelical Fellowship and the China Sunday School Association. She also held evangelistic meetings around the island, especially in isolated villages. In 1972, she held 8l outdoor meetings, 68 church meetings, and 36 hospital meetings. In addition, before and during her time in Taiwan she led Christian education seminars in Ceylon, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Hong Kong.

She returned to the United States in 1976 and moved to Miami, Florida, where she lived with her sister Kathryn. In 1982 they moved to a missionary retirement home in Bradenton, Florida. They both remained active in missionary, evangelistic, and church activities, especially in helping to establish youth work and Sunday schools for immigrating Haitian Christians. Miss Evans died in 1989.

Scope and Content

Miss Evans was interviewed by Robert Shuster on October 8, 1984 and August 26 and 27, 1985 in the offices of the Archives at the Billy Graham Center. The interviews covered her life from 1899 to 1976. 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 to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - Side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
08:53 Beginning of interview
09:10 Conversion of her father; changes caused by the conversion
10:30 Father's evangelistic work in Lynchburg, Virginia; his entry into the Baptist ministry after teaching himself theology by private study
12:05 Elizabeth's birth in Lynchburg, March 1899; brothers and sisters; memories of the birth of her sister Anna
17:00 Contentment of her home, despite little wealth; loving relations between parents and between parents and children; discipline in the home; mother's presence in the home
18:50 Family devotions
21:00 Elizabeth's conversion as a young child; a vision; bad influence of kids like the Katzenjamer Kids; rededication of her life at age twelve; decision to become a missionary
26:00 Self-denial week; doing without to raise money for missions
27:40 Lack of proper companions when parents were in city mission work; purchase of a home in Nyack, New York; family life
32:05 Acquaintance with A. B. Simpson; his preaching style
35:25 Elizabeth's wish to go to college; preparation to become a pioneer missionary
39:20 Attendance at the Nyack Missionary Institute; advertisements for Wheaton College in The Sunday School Times; David Newberry; applying for a job as a librarian at Wheaton
44:40 Living in Williston Hall on campus; homesickness
45:50 Julia Blanchard
46:30 End of Side 1

Tape T1 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:12 Living in Williston Hall; homesickness; Julia Blanchard; formal dining in the dining hall
02:50 Working in the library for Julia Blanchard; 35 cents an hour wages; the college bookstore; binding books and magazines
06:05 Charles Blanchard; refusal to travel on Sundays; appearance; lack of contact with students
08:45 Blanchard's characteristics as a speaker
09:45 Professor Harriet Blaine, Professor Darien Straw, Dr. Elsie Dow
14:00 Spiritual life on campus; strong sense of history of Elizabeth's class; starting up the yearbook again; starting a school band
17:40 Social life on campus; curfews and lights out during the week; literary societies; parties; a Halloween party
23:40 End of Tape T1

Tape T2 - Side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
00:52 Introduction
01:05 Paul Rader; his preaching
03:35 Teaching in New Jersey after graduation from Wheaton; move to Rumney, New Hampshire, to teach at an orphanage
05:50 Meeting J. Elwin Wright; first impressions
08:00 Wright's business and evangelistic activities; evangelistic work in tourist camps in Florida
10:25 Father's evangelistic work in Nyack
11:15 Wright's Christian activities in Florida
12:30 Wright's appearance; his character and vision, business ability, political activities, and work on behalf of abused and abandoned children
16:05 Wright's conversion at the age of twelve
17:05 Missionary conferences in Florida
18:10 Honorary doctorate from Bob Jones College
18:30 Low level of spiritual life in New England during the 1920's; opposition to evangelical pastors on the part of Federal Council of Churches
20:50 Founding of the Romney conference ground by Joel Wright; J. Elwin Wright's taking over of the conference in 1924
24:40 Founding of the New England Fellowship in 1929; Elizabeth and her mother's opening of closed churches; acceptance of woman as preachers and teachers
26:20 Elizabeth's desire to be a foreign missionary; advice from Dr. Glover; Elizabeth's call to work among the children of New England
30:00 The beginning of the New England Fellowship (NEF); William Bell Riley and other speakers at the first conference; other conferences held at the campground; the creation of a circuit of Bible conferences in New England
34:55 Relationship with the Federal Council of Churches and Unitarian churches; the gradual filling of New England pastorates with evangelicals; Dr. Harold John Ockenga and Gordon College students
37:50 The NEF's radio programs, which began in 1932; Homer Grimes; format of the program
42:05 Francis and Edith Schaeffer's work for the NEF as supervisors of the Camp Richard Oliver; impressions of the Schaeffers
46:00 End of Side 1

Tape T2 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:02 Francis and Edith Schaeffer's work for the NEF as supervisors of the Camp Richard Oliver; impressions of the Schaeffers
03:40 Collaboration of Wright and Ralph Davis on the preliminaries to the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in 1942; Wright travels across the country for radio program; involvement of mission boards in Rumney's conferences
07:00 Wright's desire from 1936 on to form a National Association of Evangelicals; influence of the NEF on other Christian leaders; the part of Ralph Davis
09:35 Elizabeth's work in leading vacation Bible schools and training VBS teachers; visiting rural schools with simple Bible program in the winter; recruiting girls for rural work; training foreign missionaries; getting permission from local school officials
16:35 Mr. Rossi and his founding of Missionary Village through the Aurora Foundation
18:00 End of Tape T2

Tape T3 - Side 1 (8/26/85) (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
01:30 Introduction
02:05 Quote about J. Elwin Wright; Wright's influence on the founding of the NAE; unity and charity; "shaking hands over the tops of the fences"
04:30 Ecumenical, interdenominational spirit at Rumney conferences; influence of the example of the NEF on the forming of the NAE; Wright's talks with Harry Ironside, William Ward Ayer, and other evangelical leaders around the country
07:55 Difficulties individual evangelical ministries were having which led to the formation of the NAE; Charles Fuller and the musicians' union; Wright's efforts on Fuller's behalf in Washington; poverty and distress caused around the world by World War II; potential restrictions on evangelical religious radio broadcasting; Harry Emerson Fosdick
15:35 Wright's reputation as a go-getter and political insider; Clyde Taylor; plans for an evangelical office in Washington
17:20 Hesitations of Ockenga about forming the NAE
19:25 Difficulty of evangelicals in becoming chaplains
20:00 Very little opposition to starting the NAE; discussions with Federal Council of Churches leaders; opposition from FCC leaders to the rural Bible education programs and to forming the NAE
24:15 Preliminary meeting of evangelical leaders in 1942 in Chicago at Moody Church; call for the first meeting in St. Louis
26:30 Ralph Davis's part in starting the NAE
30:10 Elizabeth's distress over the formation of NAE because of its conflict with the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC); her change of heart and active involvement with the NAE; Wright's talks with Carl McIntire about the formation of the ACCC and the NAE; conflict between the two groups
33:15 Beliefs of the ACCC; Carl McIntyre; tactics used by ACCC leaders at NAE's constitutional meeting; loving spirit of Wright and others; an opportunity missed; John R. Rice
37:20 Quote from a letter from Koheler of the Church of the Nazarene about the first meeting of the NAE in Chicago in 1943; prayer meeting before the first session; working on the statement of faith
40:40 Discussion of membership by Pentecostal groups; Noel Perkins and Fowler
44:25 Elizabeth's work on the education committee; the development of various specialized education commissions
46:30 End of Side 1

Tape T3 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:45 The development of various specialized education commissions; activities of the commissions; problems of Christian schools
05:30 The Women's Fellowship; its relief activities in Europe after World War II; need for knitting needles and eye glasses; no women who were official delegates to the first convention; Helen Tenney
12:30 Other activities of the Fellowship; support for evangelical military chaplains; support for relief work in Europe and Asia
16:10 Wright's trips to Europe after World War II; his work on the NAE's Commission on International Relations; his talks with evangelical leaders in Europe; the Evangelical Alliance in England; Wright's success in promoting the training of evangelical pastors from Europe in Boston
24:10 Contacts with English evangelical leaders; Arthur Dain, Sir Arthur Smith
25:05 Commission on International Relations; Herbert J. Taylor; Taylor's support for evangelistic work
28:00 Financial difficulties of the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF)
29:45 Wright's 1950 trip around the world with Clyde Taylor; problems caused by lack of cooperation between evangelical ministries; attitudes on the part of missionaries toward giving authority to national leaders; Wright's attitude; competition with the ACCC in different countries
35:30 Early meetings of the WEF; the first official meeting in Holland
39:50 Results of the meeting; requests to join from India and Japan; relations between missionaries and national leaders
43:20 Election of Wright as first leader of WEF
47:00 End of Side 2

Tape T3 - Side 3
00:00 Start of tape
00:08 Election of Wright as first leader of WEF; two general secretaries; duties of the American secretary and the British secretary
03:55 Bob Pierce; his lack of interest in organization; his pastor' conferences in Japan and other places; contrast between Wright and Pierce
06:30 Wright's assistance to Billy Graham during Graham's early evangelism efforts in Europe
08:00 Interruption in tape
08:10 Continuation of tape; Arthur Smith's initial resistance to Graham; Wright's success in winning Smith's support for Graham; Graham's visit to England in 1952
12:20 Graham and Wright
12:50 Interruption in tape
13:20 Continuation of tape; opposition to Graham on the part of the ACCC in different parts of the world
15:50 End of Tape T3

Tape T4 - Side 1 (8/26/85) (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
01:00 Introduction
01:30 Wright's tenure as president of NEF from 1924 to 1951; his resignation
02:45 His activities as co-secretary of the WEF; relief work, educational work; Miss Markaclou; other Europeans trained in the United States; taking Bibles and supplies into Romania
07:10 Travels of Wright
08:30 WEF's work in South America; difficulties with some mission boards
09:10 Elizabeth's leaving in 1955; intended for extension work for the WEF in India; went to Taiwan instead; reasons for refusal of Indian government to allow her in the country
12:30 Wright's personality; influence of his parents; father's foresight also in Wright; Wright's business acumen displayed at age 15
17:15 Founding of Rumney conference; his ability as a salesman and fund-raiser; political interests and abilities
19:50 Wright's concern about child abuse and efforts to combat it; getting a bill through the legislature on foster homes
21:40 His commitment to what he was promoting
22:45 Constructive tenacity; Clarence Roddy; Wright's modesty and working behind the scenes; his influence around the country; his influence on Harold Ockenga
24:00 Wright's ability as a speaker and a Bible teacher; his importance in forming the Evangelical Fellowship of India
26:00 His sense of humor; letters to his family; his renown as a snorer
28:20 His humility; his reports on trips; a good judge of character
30:35 Administrative traits; delegation of authority
32:10 Resignation as executive secretary of World Evangelical Fellowship in 1958; development of a retirement center in California
36:40 Last time Elizabeth saw Wright
38:00 Mrs. Florence Daisy Wright; hatred to dirt; evangelistic work among children in Florida during the 1920's; traveling with the family
43:00 End of Side 1

Tape T4 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:40 Evangelistic work among children in Florida during the 1920's; traveling with the family
02:05 William B. Riley as a speaker; his importance as a fundamentalist leader; the first meeting of the New England Fellowship; Riley's evangelistic campaign in Worchester, MA, in 1943; V. Raymond Edman's participation
07:05 Debate between Riley and Charles Smith of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism over evolution
10:30 Harry Rimmer as a speaker; his effectiveness in explaining difficult Bible passages
13:20 End of Tape T4

Tape T5 - Side 1 (8/27/85) (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
01:15 Introduction
01:55 A. Z. Conrad of the Park Street church in Boston; his search for a successor; help from Wright and Nathan Wood; attitudes toward baptism and immersion; lack of evangelical pastors in the Congregational church; recruitment of Harold John Ockenga for the Park Street pulpit; Conrad's last public appearance and death
10:20 Origins of the New england Fellowship; lack of Gospel preaching in New England; Billy Sunday's 1916 meetings in Boston; some converts at Sunday's meetings; Allan Emery; Alice Thilbald
14:15 The Boston Businesswomen's Society; membership of the Society; evangelistic activities of the Society; Wright's involvement; speakers at Society meetings
17:15 Evangelistic Association of New England; Walter Maier's and Charles Fuller's evangelistic meetings in Boston
19:30 Wright's concern about New England; the home for children at Rumney, NH; love and discipline at the home; trades taught at the home; the suffering of the children before coming to the home
25:15 Buildings at the Rumney conference ground; purpose of Rumney; Wright's objections to Rumney when he took over control
28:00 Nondenominational character of NEF; no Catholics involved in activities of NEF; objections of priests to contacts with Protestants
30:55 Elizabeth's responsibilities as a NEF staff member; her Bible teaching activities; the geographic range of her work; her methodology
36:00 Elizabeth's work with religious education in public schools; her supervision of the conference's dining hall; buildings on the conference grounds
41:05 Training the women teachers how to drive and take care of their automobiles; use of movies for training and recruitment and fund-raising
44:45 End of Side 1

Tape T5 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:05 Use of movies for training and recruitment and fund-raising
00:55 A survey of the spiritual condition of New England
02:45 An Old Testament course prepared by Elizabeth for local churches; Elizabeth's evangelistic campaigns and training in personal work; preparations necessary for an evangelistic campaign
06:35 Recruiting rural Bible teachers; qualities necessary in a woman who wanted to be a rural Bible teacher
11:00 Kathryn Evans; other NEF staff members
13:00 The Radio Ensemble
15:05 Wright's involvement with radio; the NEF's radio programs in the 1930's
17:30 Frederick Howard Taylor and Mary Geraldine Taylor; speaking style
19:50 F. Carlton Booth; bond with Elizabeth's family; Richard Oliver's death in an auto accident; Booth's involvement in NEF conference activities
23:20 Bob Jones Sr. as a speaker; the preacher boys of Bob Jones College; Bob Jones Jr. as a speaker; the physical exertions required for the NEF preaching circuits
26:20 The personalities of Bob Jones Sr. and Jr.; a spaghetti dinner
27:40 R. G. LeTourneau and Wright; Charles Cranells
30:00 End of Tape T5

Tape T6 - Side 1 (8/27/85) (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
01:00 Introduction
01:30 J. E. Jaderquist
03:15 Horatio J. Chase; problems fund-raising for an interdenominational organization like the NEF; Wright's fund-raising efforts; John Bolton
08:50 Average budget of the NEF
09:10 Walter Wilson; the last time Elizabeth saw him
13:40 Jack Wyrtzen; total capacity of the conference grounds
15:40 Walter Smyth
16:05 Abraham Vereide and Wright's influence on him; Wright's attitude toward modernists; Vereide's ability as a Bible teacher
20:10 J. Oliver Buswell at Rumney; ways he changed in later life
23:20 Carl McIntire and Wright
24:15 Billy Graham at Rumney; his speaking qualities
25:35 Elizabeth's activities at Park Street Church on behalf of Christian education; interest by Christians in other countries in her courses; the Evangelical Teachers Training Association (ETTA)
30:20 Brief visits to Vietnam and Hong Kong; arrival in Taiwan; work of the Presbyterians in Taiwan; James Dixon; Christian education conferences in Taiwan; missionaries' difficulties with the Chinese language
36:00 Meeting with Dick Hillis; decision to stay in Taiwan
37:20 Work in Taiwan helping to develop teachers and holding evangelistic meetings
38:00 Interest of Taiwanese in her; staying with Taiwanese families
39:20 Work with the Taiwan Evangelical Fellowship; work with the Hakka people; difficulties of evangelism among the Hakka
43:45 Lack of coordination between missions in Taiwan; training Taiwanese Christian writers
45:00 End of Side 1

Tape T6 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:20 Lack of coordination between missions in Taiwan; training Taiwanese Christian writers; need for cooperation between Christian radio stations; the Taiwan Evangelical Fellowship
03:00 Goals of the TEF; need for greater cooperation between nationals and missionaries
04:30 Courses training Christian workers in the use of visual aids
05:15 Response of the Chinese and Taiwanese to the Gospel; Taoism in Taiwan; burial practices
07:15 An example of the Taiwanese fear of evil spirits
10:00 Elizabeth's means of support while she was in Taiwan
11:10 Living as the Taiwanese; a car from the Lord; other needs supplied
18:00 Conflict between the Taiwanese and Red China; running a recreation center for American soldiers
20:20 Retirement in 1969; visit of Kathryn to help Elizabeth pack; winding up her work in Taiwan; return to U.S. via Vietnam and Afghanistan
24:10 Return to Taiwan; bookmobile ministry; film ministry
27:30 Method for starting evangelistic work in a village; advantage of filmstrips and slides; drawing crowds to evangelistic rallies; holding Sunday school in the yards of a Buddhist temple
31:15 Difficulty in learning Chinese
32:25 Madame Chiang Kai-Shek's testimony; visit to her home; influence of her Christian witness on her sister-in-law
36:05 Wright's honorary doctorate from Bob Jones University
37:10 Retired again at 77 in 1976; Billy Graham's crusade in Taiwan
40:00 End of Tape T6


The tapes in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center in October, 1984, and August, 1985.

Accession #84-120, 85-110, 85-111

March 24, 1986
Robert Shuster
J. Nasgowitz

June 16, 1993, Reformatted
M. L. Larson

Accession: 84-120, 85-110, 85-111
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the Audio Tape file.

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 68 minutes. Oral history interview with Elizabeth Evans by Robert Shuster in which she discusses her childhood and her education at Wheaton College. October 8, 1984. One side.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 61 minutes. Oral history interview with Elizabeth Evans by Robert Shuster in which she discusses her education at Wheaton College, her work with J. Elwin Wright and the New england Fellowship (NEF), and the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). October 8, 1984. One side.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 100 minutes. Oral history interview with Elizabeth Evans by Robert Shuster in which she discusses the formation and development of the NAE and the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF). August 27, 1985. Two sides.

T4 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 54 minutes. Oral history interview with Elizabeth Evans by Robert Shuster in which she discusses Wright's activities as leader of the WEF and his personality, and describes some of the speakers at the NEF conferences. August 27, 1985. One side.

T5 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 74 minutes. Oral history interview with Elizabeth Evans by Robert Shuster in which she discusses the founding and development of the NEF, her Christian education work, and some NEF speakers. August 28, 1985. One side.

T6 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 82 minutes. Oral history interview with Elizabeth Evans by Robert Shuster in which she discusses some NEF speakers and her missionary experiences in Taiwan. August 28, 1985. Two sides.

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