Below are reports from some of the people who used the Archives in 2009 and 2010, giving examples of the different kinds of research that was done. The reports have been edited slightly in some cases to ensure that they are all in the same format
My research focused on finding first-hand materials related to Wheaton alumni, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot for the purpose of a future feature film project. I was tremendously excited to find substantial, original material in great condition. We came to the Wheaton based upon the BGC Archives internet site and because of the recommendations of individuals associated with the Elliot story.
We were hopeful to find items such as Jim's journals. What we found was much more extensive. The archives had letters, newspaper articles and reviews, yearbooks, original 16mm films and even a copy of an old bible tract. During our short stay at Wheaton, it was evident that these archives are an irreplaceable storehouse of Christian history. To be honest, I was surprised at the depth of knowledge and passion exhibited by the archives staff. Top to bottom, they were knowledgeable about the material and how to access it in the archive/university system. They were extremely helpful, kind and generous. Even patient. Who could ask for more? The only hindrance was that I didn't allow sufficient time given the volume of information available. Nothing about the policies were a hindrance. I respected the fact that systems were in place to protect archives materials.
As an author and screenwriter, being able to do this kind of research makes all the difference between imagination vs. re-creating the world (and the characters involved) authentically. For historical pieces such as this current project, having access to accurate material is immeasurable.
Thank you so much.
I visited the Billy Graham Center archives for my book project on ethnicity in Kenya – more specifically, among the Kamba – between the mid-19th century and today. I was especially interested in finding missionary testimony about early interactions with the Kamba (c. 1900-1920).
I was able to do some preliminary research using the detailed guides before arriving, having been warned that the sources were likely thin on the early 20th century. The Stauffacher papers were useful, especially his typescript of the history of the AIM. The Elwood Davis papers were also useful – he was stationed in the area in which I was especially interested. Of course, the 116-box AIM collection was vital reading, although not overly helpful for my particular topic. I also appreciated the almost complete runs of the AIM journals, Inland Africa and Hearing and Doing.
What I did not expect to find was the large collection of audio and video tapes on AIM preaching. I will certainly visit again to look at these excellent resources. I am especially grateful for the extraordinary efficiency of the archives’ staff, and will be sure to provide a book reference when the time comes.
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