Billy Graham Center

[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.]

Small Collection 43 - Colporteur Letters of the American Tract Society

Since we are migrating our website to a new platform, we will no longer be updating this earlier version our site. Please visit our Archon database for online guide descriptions. In early 2018, look for our new site, currently under construction, linked in the BGC Archives section on the Library and Archives page. (12/11/2017)

Small Collection 43 [May 6, 1998]

American Tract Society; 1825-

Colporteur Letters; 1854-1858

1 Folder


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Historical Background

The American Tract Society, a nondenominational Christian publishing house, was founded in 1825 by the merger of several small printing establishments. Believing that a very effective and inexpensive way to reach most of the world's peoples with the story of Jesus Christ is through the printed page, the Society produces Christian books, booklets, magazines, and leaflets. Each year the Society made available to prisons, hospitals, and missionary organizations free materials for their distribution. Military servicemen in seven major wars were provided Christian literature by the Society as well as the cadets at West Point who received Bibles each year.

In the 1840s, the Society began distribution of their materials through messengers, known as colporteurs. These men, preferably single, were usually ministers or seminary students who were sent out and supported by various societies. Occasionally called on to preach, their primary tasks were distribution of materials and fund raising. Financial support for the Society's ministry depended (as they do now) upon the charitable contributions of their Christian friends.

Scope and Content

The collection contains a few handwritten letters of the American Tract Society dealing mostly with activities of the Society in New York and Eastern Canada. Most of the correspondence is between the Rochester, Niagara and Toronto Societies; however, there is one interesting note from London. Another unusual item was an enclosure in a handbill announcing the services of one Rev. Bliss, who conducted seminars on "God's Providential Care of our Country..." Correspondents include Robert Sharp, Yates Hickey, Robert Conner, and Arthur Wickson.


The materials for this collection were received by the Center in July 1979 from Mrs. F. St. Cyr.

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page

Last Revised: 4/6/99
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005