Billy Graham Center

Scope and Content Note on Collections with Information on Billy Graham or the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Scope and Content Description

The Archives of the Billy Graham Center has numerous document collections generated by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Also available are other collections of non-BGEA records that contain significant amounts of information about the Association and/or Billy Graham, or events or institutions to whose formation Graham made a significant contribution. The purpose of this scope and content note is to identify and describe the main topics covered in these materials. This is a brief rather than exhaustive description, touching only on major topics. In addition, these notes cover only processed collections of BGEA material and the major non-BGEA collections with BGEA-relevant material. The researcher should therefore consult the microfiche subject index for a complete listing of processed and unprocessed material about Billy Graham and the BGEA. Information on which collections contain information on individual crusades can be found in the chronology in this guide. The reseacher can also consult the Addenda of this guide for a numerically arranged list of all processed collections with information on Graham or the BGEA, and a list of main entry descriptions arranged alphabetically by collection title; entries include date coverage for each collection. For more detailed information on the collections referred to in this volume, the researcher should consult the guides to individual collections. Restrictions on use and/or copying of materials apply to much of the material described below; specific information on these restrictions is contained in the individual collection guides.

The format of the materials in the collections is varied. Among the paper documents are correspondence, reports, minutes, maps, blue prints, memos, newsletters, procedure (or sample) books, budgets, newspaper clippings, newspaper scrapbooks, sermon transcripts, promotional materials, invoices, and lists. Nontextual formats include audio tapes (reel-to-reel and cassette), videotapes (1/2" VHS, 3/4", 1" and 2" format), wire recordings, phonograph records, films, photographs, negatives, slides, and microfilm.

Billy Graham. The central figure in all this material is, of course, Billy Graham. A few collections contain personal information on Graham or his family. Collection 74 contains some letters written by his grandfather Benjamin M. Coffey. These letters describe the participation of Coffey as a Confederate soldier in the Gettysburg campaign. The circumstances of the evangelistic meetings led by Mordecai Ham at which Graham committed his life to Christ are described in Collections 5, 118 and 295, although none of these include information directly about Graham's conversion. A scrapbook in Collection 15 contains information on his education at Florida Bible Institute and Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Small Collection 19 consists of what are probably Graham's mimeographed and written notes from a theology class at the Florida Bible Institute in the late 1930s. Personal memories about Graham can also be found in transcripts of hundreds of oral history interviews in Collection 141. Collection 5 (the Papers of Vernon Patterson) and Collection 285 (Interviews with Torrey M. Johnson) include other personal recollections of Graham and his ministry. The Billy Graham Appreciation Day, held in 1968 and planned by his friends in Charlotte, North Carolina, is described in documents in Collection 11. The manuscript for John Pollock's biography of Graham is also available in Collection 6. Graham also talks about himself in the television interviews and press conferences which can be found in Collections 24 and 74, and in a brief oral history interview in Collection 141. Collection 318 contains the papers of Graham's father-in-law, L. Nelson Bell. Bell was a close advisor to Graham from the later forties until Bell's death in 1973. His papers reflect their close relationship and contains information on many of Graham's activities.

Billy Graham's pre-BGEA evangelistic career. Graham's evangelistic ministry before the formation of the BGEA in 1950 can be traced in Collections 5,15,74, 141, and 285. Collection 15 consists of a scrapbook about Graham's earliest evangelistic meetings, begun when he was about twenty and continuing for the next few years. Those interested in his career as an evangelist for Youth For Christ (YFC) will find a large amount of information in Collections 40,48,181, 224, and 285; a letter to Graham with personal recollections of YFC days can be found in Small Collection 7. Some information on Graham's contribution as a YFC board member later in his career is also available (Collection 343).

Billy Graham as a public figure. Also of interest is material documenting Billy Graham's stature as a public figure and his relationships with other public figures, particularly American presidents. It was at the Los Angeles meetings of 1949 (Christ for Greater Los Angeles) that Graham first was given national publicity in the secular press, although he was already very well known in fundamentalist and evangelical circles. These pivotal meetings are described through the press coverage gathered in a scrapbook (Collection 360), filmed excerpts of the services made by the crusade committee (Collection 74) and audio recordings of most of the evangelistic messages of the campaign (Collection 26). Collections 24, 191, and 345 contain statements by Graham on various social issues. Also see the records of Christianity Today, (Collection 8), which Graham shared a role in founding. Collection 74 contains documentation (videotaped newscasts, microfilm copies) on Graham's relationships with American presidents, including Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon and Ford, Carter and Reagan. Nixon was a featured guest at crusades in 1957, 1968 and 1970; these are documented in several films in Collection 113 as well as in press clippings, news releases and other materials in collections 345 and 360. Other political and entertainment figures were also featured guests at crusades (Collection 113) and on Graham's Hour of Decision television broadcasts in the early 1950's (Collection 54). Graham's public stature was also illustrated through his international travels. Examples of this are the coverage of his participation in the 1982 Moscow Peace Conference (Collection 74) and his 1984 return visit to the Soviet Union to hold evangelistic meetings (Collection 113). Numerous photographs are also available of Graham with political and entertainment figures. These can be identified in the microfiche subject index by looking under the headings "Graham, William F w/ [name of personality]."

Development of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Copies of the BGEA's 1950 articles of incorporation can be found in Small Collection 18. From the beginning, the BGEA's main activity was organizing the mass evangelism crusades of Billy Graham, although it also developed other complimentary activities over the years. Collection 1, the papers of the BGEA's first crusade director, Willis Haymaker, documents the development of the Association's standard method of crusade organization which was used for a period of years. Files from the Navigators (Collection 7) show how it worked with the BGEA in the early and mid-1950s to develop the BGEA's methods of counseling inquirers at crusades and providing ongoing nuture (follow-up). Collection 108 includes additional information on the BGEA's early formation. Small Collection 25 provides a retrospective look at the BGEA on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, while Collection 10 consists of a photographic review of the BGEA's significant events.

BGEA administration. From its relatively simple beginnings, the BGEA became a complex and highly specialized organization. The collections in the Archives document much of this development, particularly as it related to crusade planning and follow-up. Collection 17, the records of the Vice President in charge of crusade and team activities, contains the files of multitudes of crusades of Billy Graham and his Associate Evangelists in the United States and abroad. Robert Ferm served Graham as his personal assistant; Collection 19 contains Ferm's files illustrating how invitations to hold a crusade were or were not accepted, as well as assistance he gave to Graham in research, sermon writing, and representation at various meetings, such as that of the United Bible Societies. One project that Ferm worked on for many years was the compilation of statistics and narrative accounts about the ongoing progress of people converted at BGEA crusades. Collection 313, the papers of a BGEA board member, touches on the various aspects of the Association's ministry and that of its subsidiaries. The audio tape in Collection 27 offers a glimpse into an annual team meeting for upper level BGEA executives. Collection 345 has a gr4eat deal of information on the public relations aspects of various crusades as well as Graham's involvement in various non-BGEA events. Other records which illustrate the administrative operation of the Association include Collections 1,12,13,18,19,245,506 and Small Collection 14.

BGEA foreign offices. In addition to the ministry which the BGEA carried out from North America, it established affiliate offices in other countries in order to coordinate local and regional crusades and to distribute Decision magazine, Hour of Decision radio programs, crusade television broadcasts, and World Wide Pictures films. Records documenting the activity carried out by those offices include those from the Hong Kong office (Collection 271), the Sydney, Australia office (Collection 245), the Tokyo office (Collection 34) and the London office (Collection 9). Incorporation documents for several of these and other foreign offices are located in Small Collection 18.

BGEA Crusades. Throughout the BGEA collections, detailed documentation is available on specific crusades, principally those of Billy Graham. For many of these the process is documented from the initial invitation to Graham, through the crusade planning phase, to holding the event and implementing a follow-up program with new converts. These materials range from administrative correspondence to examples of materials used in crusades to videotaped meetings for television broadcast. The time period covered by these ranges from the BGEA's beginning in 1950 to 1980. The most substantive collections containing material on a variety of specific crusades are: Collections 16,17,54,113,345, and 360; other collections also containing information on specific meetings include: 1,4,12,19,20,111,198,245 and 318. Collection 16 extensively covers BGEA crusades through its volumes of duplicated material for individual crusades between 1957 and 1981. Collection 79 consists of responses to a questionnaire about the 1962 Chicago Crusade. Collection 28 provides a look at the follow-up program from a crusade through the completed cards used to track the progress of crusade inquirers. A longer view of evangelism in one city is given by the documents in Collection 295, which touch on a number of meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina, including both the meetings at which Graham was converted and those he himself later held there. A number of Small Collections relate to specific crusades, containing the papers, such as minutes, other planning documents and samples kept by crusade executives, directors or committees. While most of these are not voluminous, they do document the process of crusade organization from the perspective of the community's representatives. Among these collections are Small Collections 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,22,35, and 90. Collection 318 has a great deal of information about the break between Graham and some fundamentalists which was climaxed by Bob Jones Sr.'s heavy attack on the 1957 New York Crusade.

Associate Evangelists. The BGEA broadened its evangelistic outreach through its Associate Evangelists, who often worked alongside Graham in conjunction with one of his crusades or conducted their own meetings, often in smaller communities and/or for shorter periods of time. While references to these may appear in numerous BGEA collections, concentrations of documentation on their activity occur in Collections 13,17,18,23, and 345. Collection 23 is of particular interest as it relates specifically to Leighton Ford's "reachouts."

Training. In addition to providing evangelists to lead the proclamation of the Gospel through crusades, the BGEA worked to develop a trained workforce in communities which could counsel new converts and lead others to faith in Christ. Of particular value were those who could contribute to the evangelistic ministry of a crusade and continue that work long after the meeting's conclusion. The Christian Life and Witness classes (held prior to all crusades) prepared all those volunteering to be crusade counselors. Collection 26 includes audio taped sessions from these classes. The Schools of Evangelism, held in conjunction with some crusades, provided in-depth study and practical experience in evangelism. Audio tapes of the sessions from one of these schools are available in Collection 25. The history of the Schools of Evangelism can be traced back to its forerunner, the Southern California Crusade Seminary Program, held in conjunction with the 1963 Los Angeles Crusade (Collection 22).

Use of media. The BGEA's use of both print and audio-visual media is well documented among the Archives collections. The production of television program-ming included both the Hour of Decision shows from 1950 to 1954 and the crusade broadcasts (Collections 54 and 113). Copies of films, production, distribution and promotion files for films produced by World Wide Pictures, both for commerical release (e.g.,The Hiding Place) and smaller showings in local churches, are available in Collection 214. An annual report from World Wide Pictures is also available in Small Collection 26, and Corrie ten Boom's papers include additional information on the production of The Hiding Place (Collection 78). Radio broadcasting is documented in the extensive series of Hour of Decision programs from 1950 to 1980 (Collection 191), the Hour of Freedom programs from 1968 to 1980 (Collection 294), and the operational files of the BGEA subsidiary, the Blue Ridge Broadcasting Company, located in North Carolina (Collection 45). Some research and administrative files of Decision magazine can be found in Collection 506. International publication and distribution of Decision magazine is documented in Collections 34 (Japan), 245 (Australia), and 271 (Hong Kong). Phonograph records in Collection 102 further document Billy Graham's sermons and also include selections of gospel music by BGEA musicians. The Media Office was the main contact point between print and broadcast media and the BGEA. Their records can be found in collection 345.

Media coverage. In addition to the print media coverage of BGEA activity in Collection 360, Collection 74 includes videotaped televised segments from news- casts and interviews with Graham. Collection 24 contains transcripts and recordings of Graham's press conferences. Collection 345 contains new service reports and press clippings about Crusades and other events Graham was involved in.

Sermons. Messages presented by Graham and his Associate Evangelists are intermingled throughout the collections, ranging from early in the BGEA's history to more recent. The primary sources for these are: the audio recorded events documented in Collection 26; the hundreds of Hour of Decision television and radio broadcasts (Collections 54 and 191); the audio recordings of Associate Evangelist Howard Jones' Hour of Freedom program (Collection 294); the film and video tapes of crusades (Collections 54 and 113); some of the crusade scrapbooks which included fully printed texts of Graham's sermons; and single addresses by Graham in Collections 30 and 176. Collection 345 has many transcripts of sermons by Graham.

Other Comments. Several collections gather documents together according to their format. Among these are the clippings and scrapbooks of press clippings (Collection 360) related to Billy Graham, BGEA crusades or related events such as the international congresses in Berlin (1966), Lausanne (1974), and Amsterdam (1983). The procedure books in Collection 16 are compilations of duplicated material by specific crusade. Audio recordings are available of the Hour of Decision programs (Collection 191), Hour of Freedom programs (Collection 294), Billy Graham's news conferences (Collection 24), and of sermons, news conferences and miscellaneous other taped events (Collections 26). Video tapes and films are gathered in Collections 54, 113, and 214. Billy Graham and BGEA crusades are also documented through photographs. The crusade photos are arranged chronologically by the date of the event; photographs of Graham and his family are arranged alphabetically by last name. Collection 10 contains photographs depicting significant events in the BGEA's history.

The oral history interviews in Collection 141 present a vast array of impressions by individuals involved in crusades or international congresses, or who were associates or acquaintances of Graham. Individuals interviewed were primarily those who served on the executive committees of various crusades, but also included family members, close friends, co-workers, and Graham himself.

In addition to its principal activity of conducting mass evangelistic meetings throughout the world, the BGEA also coordinated or influenced the development of other complementary activities. Several of these are documented in non-BGEA collections, including:

Congresses and conferences. The BGEA's contribution of leadership, personnel and funding for international evangelization congresses can be traced to the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin (Collection 8,14), and the 1974 Interna- tional Congress on World Evangelization (or "Lausanne Congress," Collections 46,53,345). The BGEA also provided funding for the 1976 Pan African Leadership Assembly, which is documented in Collection 172. The materials in these collections range from audio tapes of sessions and workshop speakers to minutes of planning meetings to correspondence of the meetings' administrators.

The Billy Graham Center. The Center emerged as a resource facility for study and research of evangelism and missions, particularly as a site to house the organizational records of the BGEA and Billy Graham's private papers. Materials documenting the growth of the idea for the Center in the early 1970s, its formation in 1975, and ongoing activities through its resource departments, institutes and conferences can be found in Collection 3.

Christianity Today. Collection 8 consists of documents covering both the founding of the magazine and its ongoing operation, particularly through the correspondence files of two of its editors, Carl Henry and Harold Lindsell. In addition to his editorial files in Collection 8, Collection 192 consists exclusively of Lindsell's private papers.

Billy Graham Pavilion, 1964 World's Fair. The press packet in Small Collection 34 and Collection 313 include information on the development of the project for the New York World's Fair.

Crusade University. Although never established, plans for this proposed school can be consulted in Collection 313 and Small Collection 33.

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Last Revised: 8/5/96
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005