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 57 - Ephemera of Ira David Sankey

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Small Collection 57 [February 22, 1996]

Sankey, Ira David; 1840-1908

Ephemera; 1887, 1894, n.d.

1 Folder, Photograph


There are no restrictions on the use of this material.


Ira David Sankey was born on August 28, 1840, to David and Mary Sankey. His parents were devout Methodists. The family often sang hymns of the church together and Sankey was able to read music by the age of eight. He was converted at the age of sixteen while attending revival services near his home.

Sankey's father, a banker and later a government employee, was able to assist his son in acquiring a job. Sankey worked for the government until he began full-time evangelistic work with D. L. Moody. He also did volunteer work with the YMCA.

In September 1863 Sankey married Fanny V. Edwards, one of his choir members. The couple had three children, all boys.

Moody persuaded the young singer to join him in Chicago in 1871. The men traveled all over the United States and Great Britain holding increasingly crowded revival meetings. Sankey helped popularize the use of hymns with lyrics written by contemporary composers and musical instruments in church worship services.

Some of Sankey's most beloved hymns were poems he set to music, such as The Ninety and Nine, Trusting Jesus, A Shelter in the Time of Storm, and I Am Praying for You. Other tunes written by the musician include Am I a Soldier of the Cross, Sleep On Beloved, Why Not Tonight?, and I Will Trust Thee.

In his later years, Sankey lost his sight due to glaucoma. He dictated his autobiography, My Life and the Story of Gospel Hymns, from memory in 1906. On August 13, 1908, shortly before his sixty-eighth birthday, Sankey died quietly in his sleep at his home in Brooklyn, New York.

Scope and Content

Materials available by or about Sankey include an undated autograph with an inscription, "Hallelujah What a Savior"; a letter dated January 15, 1894, from Sankey to a friend sending a requested autographed letter by Dwight L. Moody; a letter from Sankey to Edward Bok dated April 9, 1887, concerning Sankey's contribution to a volume eulogizing Rev. Henry Ward Beecher--an accompanying essay contains Sankey's impressions and opinions of Beecher; and a portrait carte de viste of Sankey.


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in March 1979 from James Lowe, January 1980 from Mary Moore, May 1980 from Walter R. Benjamin Autographs, and July 1985 from Edith Nowack.

Accession 79-29, 80-10, 80-58, 85-97 June 17, 1980

Mary Ann Buffington

S. Kouns

Revised: February 10, 1987

J. Nasgowitz


Accession 85-97 Type of material: Photographs

The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by Folder Titles (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.


SANKEY, IRA DAVID. Portrait carte de viste of Ira Sankey. 1 b&w.

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Last Revised: 4/15/99
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005