Billy Graham Center

Papers of Gustav Hugo Wilbert Norton - Collection 567

[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. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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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)

    Series I: Oral History Interview
    Series II: Paper Records
      Subseries A: General
      Subsereis B: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the United States of America
      Subseries C: Wheaton in World Missions research materials
Lists of Audio Tapes and Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)

Collection 567 [February 14, 2008]
Norton, Gustav Hugo Wilbert; 1915-2017
Papers; 1950-2000; n.d.

14 boxes (14 DC, 5.4 cubic feet); Audio Tapes, Photographs

Restrictions: None.

Brief Description. Oral history interview, correspondence, reports, minutes, budgets, pamphlets, manuscripts, etc. The documents in the collection cover Norton's childhood and education; his work after 1945 as an administrator and professor of theology and missions at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Wheaton College Graduate School; and his active involvement in a number of Christian ministries, including InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Evangelical Literature Overseas and Mid-America Keswick. There are also files of research material he gathered for an article on Wheaton College's influence on missions.

Full name Gustaf Hugo Wilbert Norton
Birth February 14, 1915, in Chicago, Illinois
Death February 20, 2017 at his residence in Go Ye Village, Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Parents Axel Hugo Olson (changed to Norton when he immigrated to the United States) and Anna Victoria (Carlson) Norton
Marital Status Married Colene Woodward in 1939
Children Will Jr., Peter K., Seth W., Timothy Lamie (deceased), Betsy Lynn (deceased)
Conversion At the age of 12 in a Swedish Methodist church in Chicago
1932 Graduated Senn High School, Chicago
1932-1936 Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, B.A., History/Anthropology
1936-1939 Columbia Bible College, Columbia, South Carolina, M.A.,Th.M.
1955 Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Th.D., Church History/Theology
1964-1965 University of Chicago, post graduate studies
1995 Honorary doctorate from the Jos Evangelical Theological Seminary
2012 Honorary doctorate from Columbia International University
1940 Ordained as minister by the Evangelical Free Church of America in February
1940-1950 Missionary with the Evangelical Free Church to the Belgian Congo (Mission Evangelique de L'Ubangi), eventually became founder and director of the Bible Institute of the Ubangi (now, Goyongo Theological Seminary) in the Belgian Congo
1947-1949 Member, Congo Protestant Council (Radio committee)
1950 Missions faculty, Columbia Bible College Graduate School
1950-1964 Professor of Missions, Trinity College and Seminary, first of Chicago and then of Deerfield, Illinois
1950-1980 Board member, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
1953-1955 Dean of Men, Trinity College and Seminary
1955-1957 Dean of Education, Trinity College and Seminary
1955-1989 Board member of the Evangelical Teacher's Training Association. Chairman, 1979-1989
1955-1975 Board member, Evangelical Literature Overseas
1957-1964 President, Trinity College and Seminary
1965-1980 Professor of Missions and Evangelism, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois
1966 Participant in the Wheaton Congress on the Church's Worldwide Mission, Wheaton, Illinois; observer at the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin, Germany
1970 Participant in the World Communication Congress (Radio-TV) in Tokyo, Japan, and the World Missions Conference on Print Communications, Singapore
1972-1980 Dean of the Graduate School, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois
1974 Participant in the International Congress on World Evangelization, Lausanne, Switzerland. Co-leader of the Hermeneutics Workshop
1980-1983 Founder and Principal, Jos ECWA Theological Seminary, Jos, Nigeria
1983-1987 Chaplain to international students at Wheaton College Graduate School
1983-1989 Executive director, Committee to Assist Ministry Education Overseas
1989-1993 Professor of Missions, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
1989 Participant in Lausanne II, Manila, Philippines
1994-2003 Distinquished Professor of Missions, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina
Other significant information
  • Served as guest lecturer at the Evangelical Theological Seminary (Osier, Croatia), Scandinavian Bible Institute (Sffle, Sweden), Bangui Evangelical School of Theology (Central African Republic), Melbourne Bible Institute (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Charter member of the American Society of Missiology
  • Charter member and founding president of the Evangelical Professors of Mission, now the Evangelical Missiological Society
  • Author of several books and numerous articles.
  • Languages he could speak besides English: Lingala, Ngbaka. French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
  • Named Alumnus of the Year for Distinguished Service to Society by Wheaton College in 1986 and Distinguished Alumnus of Columbia International University in 1987
  • Received the Faithful and Able Ministries Award from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1978

Scope and Content Description

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

Series: I. Oral history interview
Arrangement: Tapes are in chronological order by the date of the interview.
Date Range: 2000. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1915-1950.
Volume: 2 tapes
Geographic coverage: United States, Belgian Congo
Type of documents: Oral history interview

H. Wilbert Norton was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on August 7, 2000, at the Billy Graham Center.

T1 (90 minutes). Tribulations of a four-word name; father's immigration to the United States and his life in Sweden and Norway; mother's Swedish background; background on the immigration of his parents from Sweden to the United States; Moravian influence in Sweden; more about his parents; Swedish Methodists in Chicago; memories from boyhood of Swedish Methodist camp meetings and Sunday schools in Chicago in the 1920s; memories of his conversion at an evangelistic meeting at a Swedish Methodist church ca. 1927; joint Thanksgiving services and summer tent meetings of the Methodist, Free and Covenant churches; contacts with the Lutheran church as a boy; lack of spiritual nourishment at his church after his conversion; his attendance at the Free Church; memories of an atheist teacher at his high school; cross-cultural training in the Free Church; difficulties of first generation Swedish immigrants with the English language; warmth and spiritual life of the Swedish Free Church; spiritual life in his home growing up; Swedish stoicism; relationship with his parents; description of the "Swedish" area of Chicago; German and Swedish influences in school; lack of ethnic tensions; his father's grocery business and its failure; description of his mother; reason why he went to college and the spiritual strength of his parents; mother's prayer when he was being operated on as a child; more on his parents' moral character and faith; his experience preaching in Sweden; dealing with strain and stress and family nurture; struggles with assurance of salvation as a young man; memories from the Depression period; Wheaton College during the Depression

T2 (65 minutes). Founding of the Foreign Mission Fellowship at Wheaton; reason for attending Wheaton; call to become a minister; Robert McQuilkin, Walter Wilson, Don Hillis and the 1936 revival on campus; call to the mission field; various mission speakers he heard as a young man; birth of an Evangelical student movement (Student Missions Fellowship) in 1936 in reaction to the failure of liberal missions; reactions at Bob Jones University, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College; James Robert Graham; SMF's constitutional meeting in 1938; development of the SMF and merger with InterVarsity; Ken Gieser; C. Stacey Woods; Charles Troutman; more on the development of SMF and the 1938 meeting; importance of prayer at the meeting; J. Christy Wilson and the first Student Missions Conference; Norton's participation in InterVarsity's mission program; the Free Church's mission program; Eugene Nida; Norton's doctoral studies; creating a Bible institute in the Ubangi in the Belgian Congo; Free Church's need for a seminary in the 1940s and the foundation of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Series II: Paper records
Subseries: Three subseries: A. General, B. InterVarsity, C. Wheaton in World Missions research materials
Arrangement: The folder titles in the collection are as they were received from Dr. Norton. The division into three subseries was done by the archivist, based on what seemed to be the informal arrangement of the materials. They were also put in alphabetical order by the archivist.
Date Range: 1941-2000. Subseries III also has photocopies of materials going back to 1936.
Volume: 5.4 cubic feet
Boxes: 1-14
Subjects: Norton's life and ministry after 1945; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Wheaton College Graduate School; the history of mission related activities on Wheaton's campus and the involvement of Wheaton alumni in foreign missions; Mid-America Keswick, Evangelical Literature Overseas, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's mission programs, particularly its triennial Student Mission Conference known as Urbana

Subseries: A. General
Arrangement: Alphabetical by significant words in folder title
Date Range: 1945-1979; most material is from the 1950s
Volume: 2.4 cubic feet
Boxes: 1-6
Geographic coverage: United States; significant amount of correspondence with missionaries in the Congo
Type of documents: Correspondence, reports on meetings, minutes, budgets, pamphlets
Correspondents: David Adeney, Ray Buker, Enock Dyrness, V. Raymond Edman, Ted Engstrom, Arthur Glasser, Billy Graham, Carl Henry, Stanley Kresge, Mel Larson, Clarence Nelson, Eugene Nida, James Nyquist, Lorne Sanny, Ray Schulenburg, Richard Seume, Wilbur Smith, T. Stanley Soltau, Harold Street, H. J. Taylor, Merrill Tenney, J. C. Thiessen, Edith Clare Torrey, Charles Troutman, Harold Van Broekhoven, Sam Wolgemuth, Charles Woodbridge
Subjects: Norton's duties as professor of missions and later president of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and still later dean of the Wheaton College Graduate School; Association of Evangelical Professors of Mission, Evangelical Literature Overseas, Mid America Keswick,
Descriptive limits: Box level
Notes: The materials in this section consist mainly of correspondence, but there are numerous types of other documents such as reports, minutes, budgets, pamphlets, etc. Correspondence is concerned with Norton's responsibilities as professor and then president of Trinity (see especially folder 6-9), his speaking engagements (usually on some aspect of missions), and his involvement in the foreign missions program of the Evangelical Free Church as well as in missions generally, both as a ministry and a field of study. Folder 1-4 contains a very few items from his mission service in the Belgian Congo (such as his checkbook), but almost everything else in the folder and the collection is dated from after his return to the United States in 1945. The same folder also has several letters from fellow missionaries in the Congo about their daily lives their and correspondence with the Evangelical Free Church about his adjustment back to life in the United States. A large part of the correspondence is personal, with reports going back and forth to friends in the pastorate or Christian work in the United States or on the foreign mission field, particularly from the Evangelical Free denomination. In particular, for Norton's leadership in the Free Church, particularly in foreign missions, see folders 5-1 and 6-7.

A variety of materials are available from the Asia Theological Association (folder 1-2) and the Asia Mission Association (folder 1-4) from the late 1970s, dealing with the development of theological seminaries and missions programs in Asian churches. Folder 1-2 contains the papers given at the 1976 meeting of the American Society of Missiology on a wide range of topics dealing with the history, theology and practice of missions. Folder 6-8 contains miscellaneous reports relating to theological and missions education, including reports from the East-West Center for Missions Research and Development, the Association of Theological Schools of South-East Asia, and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, and the Evangelical Theological Society. The same folder has a report by Louis King on the imprisonment and release of American missionaries in Vietnam in 1975 and the Seoul Declaration on Christian Mission by the Asia Missions Association.

Box 5 contains correspondence, reports and other materials relating to Norton's service on the board of Evangelical Literature Overseas in the mid to late 1950s. There are several reports on ELO's activities in Europe, Asia and Africa, activities that mainly involved providing Christian evangelistic, educational and devotional literature to Evangelical missions and bookstores. Box 5 also contains documents, mainly minutes of meetings, from Norton's service on the board of Mid-America Keswick from at least 1957 until its dissolution in 1976 (although meetings apparently ceased in 1967). This was part of the larger Keswick movement, which sought by annual conferences to help Christians deepen their commitment to personal holiness. The minutes are mainly concerned with plans for the annual summer meetings and some correspondence with Alan Redpath, among others.

Subseries: B. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the United States of America
Arrangement: Alphabetical by significant words in folder title
Date Range: 1941-1980
Volume: 2.2 cubic feet
Boxes: 7-12
Geographic coverage: United States
Type of documents: Correspondence, minutes, reports, budgets, balance sheets, IV publications, job descriptions, manuals, a dairy, surveys, staff lists, programs, notes of speeches
Correspondents: John Alexander, James F. Engel, Dave Howard, Lee Howard, Charles Hummel, John Kyle, Lydia Maillefer
Subjects: The development of InterVarsity in the United States from the 1940s down to 1980, evangelistic ministry on college and university campuses, IVCF's relationship to other Christian organizations, the Student Mission Conventions held in Urbana, Illinois
Descriptive limits: Box level
Notes: The records in this subseries cover several decades of Norton's activities as member of the Missions board of InterVarsity and a general supporter of the organization's activities. He had been one of the founders of the Foreign Mission Fellowship (FMF) of college students interested in becoming missionaries and when this group was later taken over by InterVarsity, he continued as a board member for IV's Student Foreign Missions Fellowship (later the Student's Mission Fellowship).

A large number of the materials reflect IV's organization, operation and procedures. There is a great deal on the financial aspect of the ministry, such as budgets, balance sheets, financial statements and other reports (folders 7-3, 7-4, 8-4-, 8-5, 9-6, 10-2, and 10-4, among others) as well as fund raising plans (folder 7-4). Memos for the board on the organizations policies on annuities, pension plans and retirement are in folders 7-2, 10-6, and 10-7. Descriptions of operation procedures are in folder 10-4. Other reports to the board of trustees are in folders 9-3, 10-4 and 10-5. Lists of IV staff members are in folder 11-2. Samples of IV literature are in folders 7-5 and 10-3. Copies of the organization's magazine, His, are in folder 8-7 and there is a memo on the magazine in folder 9-4. Folder 7-1 contains an interesting set of documents on plans to use innovative multimedia techniques to hold evangelistic meetings on several campuses (2100 Productions).

Norton was mostly involved in IV's mission program. Documents in the files deal with his speaking engagements on behalf of IV chapters around the country, his service on the mission board (folders 8-10 through 8-12, among others), his involvement in the triennial Urbana conferences (folders 8-7, 9-1, 11-4 through 12-6), and his gathering of materials on the history of the student missions movement. Folder 10-9 contains reports of meetings in the late 1960s with representatives from the Evangelical Foreign Mission Association and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission association to discuss how the SFMF should adapt to changing times. The files on the Urbana conventions include minutes of the planning meetings, notes on the talks given by various speakers, programs and handouts from particular conventions, analysis of the commitments made by students at the 1979 convention (folder 9-1) and plans for follow-up on the convention of that year (folder 11-4). Besides the Urbana meetings, InterVarsity also held an Overseas Training Camp, which was intended to give students a taste of living outside the United States. Plans for the camp are in folder 10-4. A similar training program within the United States was called Student Training in Missions (STIM) and the planning for this program is documented in folder 11-3.

Exceptional items: Folder 8-7 contains an article written by Norton for His magazine about the history of Urbana conventions up to 1976. Folder 8-8 contains a manuscript, probably by Norton, apparently of what was intended to be a history of InterVarsity, but the manuscript only goes as far as describing the predecessors of IV, such as the League of Evangelical Students and the reaction against the liberal ecumenism among conservative Christian students. Apparently as part of his historical research, Norton xeroxed the diary of Kenneth Hooker in folder 8-13. Hooker, an Englishman, was president of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Evangelical Unions. The diary describes his travels across eastern Canada in 1929-1930, visiting and speaking at churches and IV chapters. There is no indication of the location of the original diary. Folder 9-4 contains several interesting items, including a letter from Senator Mark Hatfield and memos on IV's policy on speaking in tongues and on its relationship with Campus Crusade for Christ.

Subseries: C. Wheaton in World Missions research materials
Arrangement: Alphabetical by significant words in folder title
Date Range: 1988-2000
Volume: .8 cubic feet
Boxes: 12-14
Geographic coverage: Wheaton College campus, reports on Wheaton alumni who were missionaries around the world
Type of documents: Outlines and manuscripts of books and articles, correspondence, xeroxes of magazine and newspaper clippings, surveys
Correspondents: Peter Stam III and many other Wheaton alumni, Norton's research assistant Nathan Oates
Subjects: Wheaton College history, especially missions-related activities on campus and involvement of alumni in foreign missions. Also material on the Billy Graham Center, the HNGR program, and revivals on Wheaton's campus.
Descriptive limits: Box level
Notes: In the mid 1990s, the Wheaton College Alumni Association, at the prompting of David Howard and Lyle Dorsett, decided to do a publication on the part Wheaton College and its alumni had played in world missions. Dr. Norton was commissioned to write it and then graduate student Nathan Oates was hired to gather research materials. This subseries contains the research materials gathered and drafts of the article that Norton wrote based on them. (The Alumni Association did not publish anything and the project was shelved in 1996, but much of it was used in 2000 and 2001 by David Howard for a book on the subject, also commissioned by the Alumni Association.) The resource materials include xeroxes of articles, Wheaton College publications and other documents (folders 12-9, 12-10, 13-2, 13-7, and 14-4) notes, and survey responses from and transcripts of interviews with a variety of alumni, faculty, and staff (folders 12-8, 13-1, 13-3, 13-4, 13-5, 14-1). Perhaps the most significant original material gathered were the responses in folder 14-1 of dozens of alumni to a survey sent out by Norton and Oates asking about the attitude toward missions at Wheaton during the respondent's time on campus. Outlines, manuscripts of Norton's article and progress reports are in folders 13-3, 13-4, 13-8, and 14-3.

Exceptional items: Transcript of interview with former Wheaton College president Hudson Armerding about his tenure (folder 12-8); a variety of materials about alumnus and missionary to Southern Rhodesia Rudy Danielson (folder 12-10); memories of Wheaton alumna involved in the founding of the Foreign Mission Fellowship, including Peter Stam III (folder 13-1); reports on the origin of the College's HNGR program (folder 13-3); interview with alumni on the influence of Charles Blanchard and A. W. Tozer (folder 13-4); interviews with James Pludderman, Marj Van Der Puy, Lois McKinney, David Gieser (folder 13-5); materials about alumna and African theologian Watson A.O. Omulokoli (folder 13-7); text of a 1988 speech by Norton on the occasion of the fifty anniversary of the Wheaton College Graduate School; and a series of xeroxes of materials from the College's paper, the Wheaton Record, of articles about revivals on campus that occurred in 1936, 1943, 1950 and 1970. Some of the 1943 materials also refer to student Billy Graham.



The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Dr. H. Wilbert Horton in 1984, 1986, 2000, and 2001.

Accession: 84-155, 86-89, 00-41, 01-05
March 13, 2001
Robert Shuster
W. Valentine

Accession: 00-41
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file.

T1 - Cassette, 90 minutes. Oral history interview of Interview of H, Wilbert Norton by Paul Ericksen on August 7, 2000.

T2 - Cassette, 65 minutes. Continuation of T1. August 7, 2000.


Accession: 86-89
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.

NORTON, H. WILBERT. Photos of Norton at the August 28 through September 5, 1975, meeting of the Asia Missions Association (these photos are badly decomposed), Norton and James F. Engel standing in front of a cathedral, possibly in an Asian country. 6 b&w, 1 color. 1975, n.d.

Box Folders First Folder/Last Folder Dates
A. General
1 6 AEMP - 70 Mtg / Correspondence; 1945-1967 1945-1979
2 8 Correspondence; 1954-1957 / Correspondence; 1952-1955 1952-1957
3 5 Correspondence S-U; 1953-1955 / Correspondence L-P; 1957-1958 1952-1958
4 5 Correspondence R-Z; 1957-1958 / Correspondence R-Z; 1958-1959 1957-1959
5 14 EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America); 1958-1959 / Mid-America Keswick '62 1954-1962
6 19 Mid-America Keswick '63 / Trinity Misc.; 1950-1967 1950-1975
B. InterVarsity
7 9 2100 Multi-Media Ministries of I. V./ Correspondence; 1975-1979 1961-1979
8 15 Correspondence With Chapters / Job Descriptions and Objectives 1941-1978
9 6 John Kyle/ Little - IV-FMF - Misc. Dept. Budgets 1941-1979
10 9 Monthly Report; Dave Howard; 1969-1975 / Student Foreign Mission Fellowship; 1950-1975 1950-1979
11 8 Student Foreign Mission Fellowship; 1976 / Urbana 1967 1961-1980
12 6 Urbana 1968 / Urbana 79 1968-1979
C. Wheaton in World Missions research materials
12 54 Alumni Faculty Missions Project / Rudy Danielson 1993-2000
13 8 FMF Leaders / NO's Outline Corrections 1996
14 4 Replies to Survey/ Wheaton Record 1988-2000

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Last Revised: 11/09/01
Expiration: indefinite