Billy Graham Center Archives


The Archives Bulletin Board

Every month, this Bulletin Board will highlight a new document or set of documents that are available in the Archives. These are intended solely for the edification of our viewers and cannot be copied or otherwise reused without permission. Come on over and have a look!

To view items previously featured on the Bulletin Board, click

Archival Film Festival 2015

In 2015, the Archival Bulletin Board is turning onto a silver screen. Each month of the year we will be displaying a rare film from our vault, all featuring some aspect of the history of Christian evangelism.

Thanks to Bruce Knowlton of Wheaton College's Academic and Media Technology for his invaluable help in putting together this film festival.

Now Showing

September 2015: Billy Graham Comes to Harringay

This month's selection in our year-long archival film festival is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's film report on the Greater London Crusade held at Harringay Arena in 1954. Intended for an American audience, this 20-minute broadcast sketches the progress of the crusade from its contested beginnings to enthusiastic reception.

Running for twelve weeks in 1954, the Greater London Evangelistic Crusade is credited with catapulting Billy Graham to international recognition. Despite this legacy, the Crusade did not have auspicious beginnings. Prior to Graham's arrival the British press was overwhelmingly negative toward the American evangelist, some openly suspicious of his theology, preaching style, and the effectiveness of evangelistic rallies in general. Coincidentally, the hostile press may have only contributed to public interest in the crusade. Harringay went on to become an unprecedented success, packing the arena with eleven thousand spectators nightly, with a total attendance of over two million.

While the crusade lasted from March 1 to May 22, this black and white film report on Harringay's progress was created shortly after the crusade began. The report opens with scenes of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament while the narrator describes the crusade's impact on the daily lives of ordinary Londoners. The hostility of the British press prior to the crusade is briefly mentioned, followed by footage of Billy and Ruth Graham arriving at Waterloo Station, greeted by enthusiastic crowds. The film highlights the crusade's opening night at Harringay, which featured introductory comments by American Senator Stuart Symington and excerpts of Graham's opening sermon. Also included are shots of Cliff Barrows directing a 1,500 member choir of volunteer Londoners, joined by famed gospel singer George Beverly Shea.

Another highlight of the Greater London Crusade was the Children's Rally, hosted by Cliff Barrows. An immensely popular feature of Graham crusades in the United States, the Children's Rally at Harringay featured special guests, including internationally-recognized Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Known as the “King of the American Cowboys,” Roy Rogers along with his famous palomino Trigger performed rodeo tricks before thousands of children and later gave his salvation testimony together with Evans, a celebrated singer and film star. The film report concludes with a description of the nightly altar call invitations at Harringay, underscoring that the number of respondents at the Harringay consistently outpaced those of American crusades and offering glowing predictions of further spiritual renewal in Great Britain as a result of the Greater London Evangelistic Crusade.

Originally captured on 16mm film, this report demonstrates visible signs of deterioration for the final seven minutes of the film.

This film, F56, is further described in Collection 214: BGEA World Wide Pictures, which contains many other BGEA crusade reports as well as feature films.

Materials from or about the 1954 Greater London Crusade have been featured in previous Bulletin Board displays. Click on the links below to view these exhibits:

May 2003: "Explaining the Hope Within You": Testimonies at Billy Graham Evangelistic Meetings

March 2004: It was Fifty Years Ago Today...

May 2004: "Thank God We Have A Part in the Greatest Thing Happening in the World Today": An Inside View of the 1954 Greater London Crusade

June 2006: I Read It In the News

Click here or on the frame captures above or below to view the video; it may take a few moments for the video file to load and begin playing.

Click here to see all the films in the Film Festival thus far.


Send us a message
Return to BGC Archives Home Page

Last Revised: 08/19/15
Expiration: indefinite

© Wheaton College 2015