Billy Graham Center

Ephemera of Mordecai Fowler Ham -
Collection 118

[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.]

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)

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Artifacts, Audio Tapes, Microfilm, Negatives, Oversize Materials, and Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes
    Oversize Materials
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Box List)

Collection 118
[June 6, 2019]

Ham, Mordecai Fowler; 1877-1961
Ephemera; 1927-1944, 1983, n.d.
1 Box (DC), Audio Tapes, Microfilm, Oversize Materials, Photographs (0.5 cubic feet)

Brief Description: Newspaper clippings, photograph, scrapbook, sermon notebooks, and oral history interviews relating to the career of evangelist Mordecai Ham.

Restrictions: None


Full name Mordecai Fowler Ham
Birth April 2, 1877, Scottsville, Kentucky
Death November 1, 1961, Louisville, Kentucky
Parents Tobias and Ollie McElroy Ham
Marital Status Married Bessie Simmons, July 1900 (she died December 4, 1905)

Married Annie Laurie Smith, June 3, 1908

Children Children of Mordecai and Annie: Martha Elizabeth, Dorothy, Annie Laurie, Jr.
Conversion About the age of eight
1890s Enrolled in Ogden College (later Western Kentucky State Teacher's College)
1897-1900 Worked in Chicago for a photo-enlarging firm
1901 First revival preached at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church
1901- Held evangelistic campaigns throughout the United States
1927-1929 Pastor of First Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
1934 Charlotte, North Carolina meetings where Billy Graham was converted
1935 Honorary doctorate degree from Bob Jones University
1936 Engaged in radio evangelism
Other significant information
 Published a paper known as The Old Kentucky Home Revivalist  
 Some of the book he wrote include The Second Coming of Christ, Believing a Lie, The Sabbath Question, and The Jews 
 One of Ham's favorite practices was to single out the most well-known sinners in town for personal evangelism. The evangelist often encountered opposition to his preaching, enduring threats, bodily assaults, and police arrests. His revivals were also plagued by two men, W. O. Saunders and J. T. Ragsdale, who circulated critical statements and pamphlets about Ham's work.  

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means "Box 2, Folder 5"

NOTE: Some material in this collection was deposited in the Archives by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and then withdrawn by them in 2019. This guide describes the material that was left.

Scope and Content
Series: Papers
Arrangement: Chronological
Date Range: 1927-1944, n.d.
Volume: 0.44 cubic feet
Boxes: 1
Type of documents: Newspaper clippings, microfilm, periodicals, photographs, sermon transcripts and notebooks
Notes: The collection consists of clippings; a scrapbook; copies of The Echoes, a newspaper published weekly by the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; copies of The Taproot, a monthly publication of the M. F. Ham Evangelistic Party in Louisville, Kentucky; oral history interviews by Ivan Fahs with Grady Wilson and Vernon Patterson; photographs; and microfilm reels of Ham's sermon notes. Other information found in the articles include names of singers, song leaders, ministers who supported the revival, summaries of Ham's sermons, and accounts of meeting activities.

Ham was invited to Charlotte, North Carolina, by the Christian Men's Evangelistic Club and he conducted a revival there which lasted twelve weeks between August 30 and November 25, 1934. He was assisted by his business manager and choir director, William J. Ramsey, and his secretary-pianist, entire Ham-Ramsey revival in that city. The first clipping (folder 1-2) reports a prayer meeting held on July 3, 1934, and the final clipping (1-3) is dated December 11, 1934, describing Charlotte's pastors' reactions to plans to revoke the "blue laws."

The Charlotte campaign was marked by a controversy, reported in the Observer, involving some high school students who were patronizing a house of prostitution in the city. Ham's preaching on the subject aroused much opposition and reaction in Charlotte. The issue ultimately arbitrated successfully with students and community, and the house was raided as a result of the publicity. Information about this situation is also discussed in the interviews with Wilson and Patterson.

Ham's sermon notebooks (reels 1 and 2) are indexed by subject and contain both handwritten and typed notes, some clippings, and outlines which he used in his preaching.

There are three folders in Oversize Drawer 14 which contain (1) issues of The Echoes (described above), mostly from 1929, with articles by and about Ham as well as printed sermons by Ham; (2) two issues of The Taproot (see above), June and July 1930; and (3) a scrapbook with twenty-three photographs of Ham and his family and two photos of meetings, one in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1934, as well as newspaper and magazine clippings about various meetings held by Ham and biographical material. The sources are not usually identified, nor are they usually dated.

In folder 1-6 are newspaper clippings which were pasted onto eleven hard stock pages containing sermon excerpts from Ham's meetings in 1932 (probably the Chattanooga Campaign) and 1934. Many of the clippings are undated.

Series: Oral history interviews
Date Range: 1930s-1980s
Volume: 0.06 cubic feet
Type of documents: Audio tapes
Notes: The interview with Grady Wilson includes Wilson's memories of the campaign as a high school student in Charlotte, his understanding of the behavior of his classmates, and memories of the meeting during which he and Billy Graham went forward to make commitments during Ham's revival. Two interviews with Vernon Patterson, a member of the committee which invited Ham to Charlotte, include an account of initial opposition to Ham's campaign, construction and location of the tabernacle, reaction of the black community, southern attitudes toward civil rights, and observations concerning Graham and the on-going impact of evangelistic campaigns in Charlotte over the years since the early 1930's.

Grady B. Wilson was interviewed by Ivan J. Fahs on January 3, 1983, in Charlotte, NC. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of topics discussed the interview.

T1 - side 1

00:00 Introduction: reconstruction of Ham-Ramsey campaign, Charlotte, NC, 1934

00:45 The Billy Sunday club; Wilson's father, Vernon Patterson, and pastor's role in inviting Sunday. Memories of Billy Sunday's campaign, 1923-24; changes of club names, sawdust sample

05:06 Importance of recording names of those involved in crusades; memories of early Christian commitment under Dr. George T. Stevens, subsequent behavior

08:54 Wilson and Graham in choir loft at Ham-Ramsey revival; Youth for Christ activities with Graham in England; invitation to Charlotte, November, 1947 after success abroad

10:27 "House of assignation"; convert at Ham revival tells Ham about students' behavior during lunch hour; Ham's preaching about this and reaction of Charlotte papers

12:37 Threats to Wilson's father as plumbing and heating code inspector; destruction of equipment during labor dispute

15:19 Protection of Ham by senior Wilson and Patterson after hearing of planned frame-up of Ham to run him out of town

16:19 Some pupils meet with Ham; others plan to evict him bodily from tent; Wilson's intervention; Ham's handling of students and result

20:54 William Waight, Mayor Wearn, Frank Kennedy, opponents to Ham; publicity created by the opposition

22:43 Inability to remember accompanying Graham on conversion night sometime between November 7 and 16; memories of preaching topics, Bible verses

26:32 Conversion of John Cowell, who later became an evangelist. Cowell's assistance of Wilson while Wilson was at Wheaton College. Graham's acceptance for chaplaincy, inability to fulfill because of mumps

28:18 Attendance at all Ham meetings after conversion night; inability to remember how he and Graham met; each in different high schools

31:14 Reports of prayer meeting before Ham revival distorted; results of usual prayer at end of summer outing of Christian Men's Evangelistic Club

32:50 Summary by Fahs of evangelistic campaigns in Charlotte, beginning with Kimball through Leighton Ford crusade in 1983

35:15 Discussion of lasting effects of conversion as known through work with revivals and Graham crusades over many years; Billie Hanke's career as an evangelist, converted through Graham and working with Wilson

38:08 Hanke's youth and Graham's reaction; Hanke's songs; incident in Washington, DC, with Chaplain and Hanke's hymn

40:04 Wilson's book, title, content of incidents behind the scenes at crusades; "moons" and behavior of audience

43:02 High cost of crusades and need of offerings

44:56 End of tape

Vernon W. Patterson was interviewed by Ivan J. Fahs in Charlotte, NC, on January 3, 1983. Patterson was interviewed a second time by Fahs on January 4, 1983 in Charlotte, NC. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed. The events described in the interview cover the time period ca. 1930s-ca. 1980s.

T2 - side 1

00:00 Introduction; plot against Ham

00:30 Incident before the plot; titling of revivals. Ham's one sentence in sermon on judgment which told about students' behavior. Enemies of Ham and their use of this; involvement of some of Charlotte's lawyers

03:20 Students' demand for apology. Name of converted informant (Wright); Ham's refusal to divulge it. Students' march on platform. Patterson's memories of the events

08:45 Lawyers' demands in column of News. Affidavits drawn up and copies given to city officials. Raid of house and conviction of owners. End of lawyers' campaign against Ham in News

10:54 Bitterness of attack by News; Observer's neutrality

11:33 New plot to discredit Ham through Tredway overheard in News office. Protection for Tredway arranged and Ham's decision to extend revival as result of attempt

16:52 Editor of News and his plan to compromise Tredway; notification of police and depth of opposition revealed by the scheme

20:02 Memories of Graham's family

21:11 Graham convinced of sin by Ham's preaching; he and Wilson in choir on platform when approached by member of Ham's group

22:54 Catholic reporter's puzzlement over Graham's step and questioning of his parents; Grahams' joy over the event; changes in Graham's behavior afterward

27:29 Date of Graham's birthday and conversion date; week of plot; time of extension

31:29 Grady Wilson's church membership two years before this; reaction to Ham's preaching

31:50 Walter White after the incident (boy used as ploy to trap Tredway)

32:33 Charlotte's participation in Graham's career, beginning in 1947

33:40 Memories of spiritual decline in churches, depression. Opposition of labor unions to Wilson's father when plumbing inspector for city; senior Wilson's nomination as Man of the Year

38:39 T.W.'s conversion following year under Bob Jones' preaching Charlotte; other evangelists in the city

40:12 Gift to Jimmy Johnson from Graham as thanks for being "elder" influence

41:12 Grady and T.W. as tent-watchers for Jones. T.W.'s escape from tent when approached, later capitulation and asking for forgiveness when alone that night

43:21 Grady and T.W.'s decision to go to Bob Jones College; Mrs. Patterson's role as cook. Pattersons' provision of "dormitory" for young evangelists

44:55 End of side 1

T2 - side 2

00:00 Beginning of tape

00:05 Grady's years at Bob Jones College. Jones' refusal to provide accounting for funds; refusal to grant Wilson's diploma at end of four years

03:40 Intervention of Dr. Harold Strathan (sp.?) and offer to send Wilson to Wheaton College. Fellow students Graham and Johnson

11:45 Jones's anger at statement of Mrs. Patterson about his choosing spouses for students; her interview and response

12:55 End of tape

T3 - side 1

00:00 Objections to Billy Sunday's financial methods; criticism mostly from non-contributors to evangelists' campaigns

02:21 Changes in Graham's organization after 1947 Charlotte campaign

04:32 Frank Graham's response to question about when Billy began to preach

05:20 Episode of photograph of love offering at end of Atlanta campaign and subsequent decision of Graham team to take salary in future

08:50 Financial sources of salary

09:25 Financing of Ham's tabernacle

10:39 Contribution of lumber, other materials from local businessmen; reuse of materials. Erection of tabernacle, its capacity of 45,000, furnishings, disposal after campaign

16:26 Opposition of town council; offer of Methodist owners of Cole (sp.?) Brothers

18:43 Vote of council on ordinance; return of Jewish member, Max Kahn, from New York to vote for support of Ham

21:20 Actions of Council, Patterson's personal involvement; publicity and position of newspapers and mayor

25:32 Opposition of Dr. Squires, Methodist member of council. Causes of opposition to Ham, his attacks on liquor interests, position on anti-Semitism, communism

27:15 Opposition from modernists in denominational churches; Dr. Squires and theological issues

30:09 Distribution of book of newspaper articles; accusations of anti-Semitism

31:58 Patterson's inability to remember the booklet; Ham's position on socialistic, communistic Jews extreme, but not racist

33:38 Reaction to Jewish support; Patterson's visit to rabbi to ask for tolerance toward Christians who did not support extremist positions

36:31 Opposition intensified in spite of Max Kahn's assistance

36:50 Personal contact with Ham and his family during the campaign

38:43 Visit of group from Augusta, Georgia; revival; Patterson's offer to house some of them; reaction of wealthy visitors and considerate behavior of Georgia guests in Patterson home

43:45 End of side 1

T3 - side 2

00:00 Beginning of tape

00:05 Effects of campaign of black population. Reaction of Dr. Oswald Smith to southern "integration" in stores

02:00 Patterson's views on civil rights movement

05:45 Sparse attendance of blacks at Ham revival though invited and no prohibition. Ham's preaching to blacks; Patterson's preaching to blacks. Memories of black servants and their relationship to the household. Observations on white-black issue

15:00 Ham's preaching to black congregations. Patterson's preaching series at black church; subsequent offer of membership there.

18:30 Response to Ham's preaching by blacks

19:45 Graham's insistence on including blacks from the beginning of his crusades; no segregation of seating

21:15 Advice for facing opposition; discussion of how opposition in Charlotte was handled; dissolution of original committee

25:45 Ham's sermon at local Presbyterian church and his agreement to assume financial obligations for future revival in Charlotte. Arrangements by those who supported Ham; successful results in conversions and subsequent evangelistic campaigns

29:15 Laymen's movement strengthened. Offer from businessman to build space for Billy Sunday clubs. Comments on response to 1983 Leighton Ford crusade

30:15 Continuing evangelical thrust; years with Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Gift of land to Columbia Bible College to be developed as training ground for evangelists, missionaries

35:15 End of tape


Materials in this collection were received by the Archives in December 1979, December 1982, January and March 1983, January 1984, January 1986, and July 1992.

Accessions 79-139, 81-79, 82-173, 83-2, 83-25, 86-1, 92-77

May 7, 1980
Mary Ann Buffington
S. Kouns

August 19, 1983
Frances L. Brocker
J. Nasgowitz

March 21, 1993, Revised
Robert Shuster
M.L. Wohlschlegel

February 13, 1996, Revised
Janyce H. Nasgowitz

Accession: 84-04
September 26, 2003, Updated
Wayne D. Weber

Accession 83-2
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The audio tapes listed below are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, ca. 45 minutes. One side only. Interview of Grady B. Wilson by Ivan J. Fahs, January 3, 1983. Discussion of Mordecai F. Ham revival, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1934, and memories of Billy Graham and crusades.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, ca. 57 minutes. One side only. Interview of Vernon W. Patterson by Ivan J. Fahs, January 3, 1983. Discussion of Mordecai F. Ham revival, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Grady B. Wilson and Billy Graham as young men.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, ca. 78 minutes. One side only. Interview of Vernon W. Patterson by Ivan J. Fahs, January 4, 1983. Continuation of discussion on T2.


Accession 83-25
Type of Material: Microfilm
The following items are located in the CENTER LIBRARY MICROFILM ROOM:

Reel 1 - Sermon notebook of Mordecai F. Ham. Sermon topics A-B (Abel to As He Is) through T (Theocracy-Turmoil); n.d.

Reel 2 - Sermon notebook of Mordecai F. Ham. Sermon topics U (Unbelief-Unpardonable Sin) through Items in Back of Notebook; n.d.


Accession 92-77
Type of material: Oversize Materials
The following items are located in the OS FILE as indicated in parentheses following the folder title.

PERIODICAL: THE ECHOES; 1927-1929 (incomplete runs) (OS 14)




Accession 81-79
Type of Material: Photographs
The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by Folder Titles at the beginning of each entry below:

HAM, MORDECAI FOWLER. A postcard with "M.F. Ham, Louisville, Ky. I Thes. 5:23" printed on it. 1 b&w.

Box Folder Title
1 1 Withdrawn by BGEA
1 2 Newspaper Clippings: The Charlotte Observer, July 3 - October 15, 1934.
1 3 Newspaper Clippings: The Charlotte Observer, October 17 - December 11, 1934.
1 4 Newspaper Clippings: Unidentified, probably Charlotte Campaign, 1934.
1 6 Newspaper Clippings: Probably Chattanooga Campaign, January - March 1932, 1934, n.d.
1 5 Withdrawn by BGEA
OS 14 Periodical: The Echoes; 1927-1929 (incomplete runs)
OS 14 Periodical: The Taproot; June and July, 1930
OS 14 Scrapbook: Photographs and Newspaper Clippings; 1934, n.d.

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 10/2/03
Expiration: indefinite