Billy Graham Center
Archives


Papers of Jim Vaus
- Collection 693

[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

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection

Biography

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

Lists of Materials in this Collection

Audio Tapes
Films
Negatives
Phonograph Records
Photo Albums
Photographs
Slides
Videos
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records (Container List)

 

*****

 


Collection 693

[June 2, 2017]

Vaus, Jim; 1919-1997††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Papers: 1950-2001

Extent: 2 boxes (DC), Audio Tapes, Films, Negatives, Phonograph Records, Photo Albums, Photographs, Slides, Films (3.924 cubic ft.)

†††††††††††

 

 

Brief Description:

Newsletters, oral history transcripts, manuscripts, correspondence, slides, photographs, audio recordings, and films relating to Jim Vausís youth ministry work in East Harlem, NY and later youth camp ministries in New York and California and internationally with the Missionary Communication Service. The collection also contains material on Jim Vausí work as a wire tapper for the Los Angeles mob prior to his conversion to Christianity at the 1949 Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade, and the 1955 film Wiretapper produced by Great Commission Films that tells the story of Vausí conversion.†

 

 

 

Restrictions:

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

 

 


 

 

Biography:

 

 

Full name

 

James Arthur Vaus, Jr.

 

Birth

 

February 17, 1919 in Los Angeles, CA

 

Family

 

 

 

Parents

 

James Arthur, Sr. and Lillie Vaus

 

 

 

Siblings

 

Virginia and Betty

 

 

 

Marital Status

 

married Alice Park on October 23, 1947

 

 

 

Children

 

Madeline, Dennis, Steve, Roger, Alissa, and Will

 

Conversion

 

November 6, 1949 at the Billy Graham Greater Los Angeles Crusade

 

Ordination

 

Ordination to the ministry arranged by Torrey Johnson in 1952

 

Death

 

December 1, 1997 in Fishersville, Virginia

 

Education

 

 

 

1937

 

Belmont High School

 

 

 

1937-1938

 

BIOLA, attended three semesters

 

 

 

1938††††

 

Los Angeles Junior College, attended one semester (fall)

 

 

 

1939

 

Wheaton College, IL, attended one semester (spring) where Vaus roomed with Carl H. Henry and Richard C. Halverson

 

 

 

1939-1940

 

BIOLA, expelled after year semester for stealing school funds

 

Career

 

 

1940-41

 

Served 1 year at the Los Angeles County Jail for armed robbery.

 

 

 

1942-1945

 

Drafted into the United States Army in January 14942 where he worked as a Cryptography Security Officer and as a Signal Officer in Charge of Tactical Communication and Radar Defensive Network in the southern California area.

 

 

 

1945-1946

 

Sentenced to 10 years at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary for misuse and misappropriation of government property while an officer. Pardoned by President Truman and honorably discharged from the Army in December 1946 after serving 6 months.

 

 

 

1946-1949

 

Opened an electronic consulting service in Hollywood with a storefront on Sunset Boulevard and began providing electronic surveillance services to the Los Angeles Police Department. Also recruited to provide electronic surveillance and protection for LA mobster Mickey Cohen. Vaus simultaneously worked for both Cohenís crime syndicate and the LAPD.

 

 

1949

 

Converted during the Billy Graham Greater Los Angeles Crusade and subsequently retired from criminal activity and made complete restitution . Shortly after his conversion, Vaus began holding his own evangelistic meetings, including Youth for Christ rallies and Navigator meetings.

 

 

 

1951

 

Gave evidence at the trial of Mickey Cohen who was charged with tax evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.

 

 

1955

 

Wiretapper is released, produced by Great Commission Films

 

 

1955-1957

 

Established the Jim Vaus Evangelistic Association, which evolved into the Missionary Communication Service, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing electronic communication support to missionaries in remote areas. MCS was absorbed into Missionary Aviation Fellowship in 1957.

 

 

1958

 

Relocated to East Harlem in 1958 to set up YDI headquarters

 

 

 

1959

 

Started Youth Development, Inc. (YDI) in East Harlem to work with at-risk youth.

 

 

 

1960

 

Launched plans for YDI summer camp for teens. Purchased 360-acre tract of land near Glen Spey, NY through the support of George Champion of Chase Bank.

 

 

1961

 

Camp Champion welcomed its first campers

 

 

 

1970

 

Purchased the former Manhattan School of Music building on 105th Street and launched Crossroads High School in September to a private school to provide education to YDI troubled youth. First semester began in September 1970, but the school was forced to close after one academic year. Opened Crossroads House, a federally funded drug prevention center, and Crossroads Center, a community center which offered a variety of programs to at-risk youth.

 

 

1971

 

Relocated to a warmer climate after being diagnosed with Parkinson=s disease; launched Summit Expedition, a wilderness adventure program for at-risk youth in the Sierra Mountains in northern California.

 

 

1972

 

Camp Champion was donated to Teen Challenge

 

 

1973

 

Established Samaritanís Ranch in El Cajon, CA, a home for runaway children.

 

 

1978

Opened Green Valley Ranch outside Ramona, CA as another residential treatment home for boys referred through the juvenile system in San Diego County.

 

 

1980

Opened Paradise Creek Ranch in Valley Center, CA as another residential treatment home for boys referred through the juvenile system in San Diego County.

 

 

1983

Launched YDI-sponsored hotline for runaway kids called National Youth Crisis Hotline

 

 

1986

 

Launched telephone ministry to latchkey kids called Tele-Pal in San Diego that connected troubled and unsupervised latchkey kids to trained listening partners.

 

 

1990

 

Mike MacIntosh assumed presidency of Youth Development International.

 

 

1995

 

Relocated to Head Waters, VA to open a YDI youth camp, Head Waters Lodge.

 

Other Significant Information:

Jim Vaus credits his childhood interest in electronics to the influence of Atwood Chambers, a boarder in his family home and a Los Angeles streetcar conductor who taught Jim Vaus to build radios.

 

Vaus published several books relating to his conversion and later ministry. Those titles include: Why I Quit Syndicated Crime (1951); The Inside Story of Narcotics (1953); Teenage Rampage (1956); The Devil Loves a Shining Mark (1974)

 

 

 


 

[NOTE: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "folder 2-5" means box 2, folder 5.]

 

Scope and Content:

Arrangement: Arrangement of material and folder titles are roughly chronological by material type. The arrangement is provided by Archives staff.

Date range: 1950-2001; Undated

Volume: 2 boxes (DC), Audio Tapes, Films, Negatives, Phonograph Records, Photo Albums, Photographs, Slides, Films (3.924 cubic ft.)

Geographic coverage: United States, Kenya, Tanganyika, Peru

Type of documents: Correspondence, newsletters, memos, receipts, manuscripts, transcripts, newspaper and magazine clippings, films, videos, audio tapes, phonograph records, photographs, photo albums, negatives

 

 

Note: The bulk of this collection is audio/visual material created by Youth Development International and other organizations, relating to Jim Vausí conversion to Christianity after attending the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade in the Canvas Cathedral where he heard Billy Graham preach, and Vausí later ministry among at-risk youth in East Harlem, NY.

 

Folders 1-2 to 2-6 contain YDI promotional material and administrative records. Folder 1-1 contains YDI-related correspondence, including letters from probation officers regarding YDI club members, and letters from school and government authorities commending Vausís work in East Harlem.

 

Folders 2-7 and 2-8 contain transcripts to an interview series with Jim Vaus conducted by Bob Crossley. Topics covered in the interviews include: Vausís inspiration for starting YDI; first impressions of East Harlem; collaborating with Manhattan police Captain, Conrad Jensen; demographics of East Harlem and gang culture; administration of YDI; fundraising; launching Camp Champion; creating educational opportunities for YRI members; gang violence and prosecution; Vausís work with Missionary Communication Service; descriptions of Conrad Jensen and Petey Thomas; †††

 

 

Folder 2-9 contains an unfinished autobiographical manuscript, consisting of eight chapters. Some chapters have both a clean and an annotated copy. The manuscript covers the years 1945-1960, beginning with Vausís second incarceration and ending with the purchase of land in Glen Spey, NY that became Camp Champion.

 

 

*****

 

Provenance:

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Will Vaus in August 2009.

 

Accession 09-46†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

June 2, 2017

Katherine J. Graber

K. Jennings

 



LOCATION RECORD

Accession 09-46

Type of material: Audio Tapes

 

 

 

Tape #

 

R/C

 

Speed

 

Length

 

Sides

 

Title †

 

Description †

 

Date

 

T1

 

C

 

--

 

85 min

 

2

 

Why I Quit Syndicated Crime: Testimony of Jim Vaus

 

Evangelistic message in which Vaus describes his family background, wiretapping activities for the Los Angeles mob, Mickey Cohen, and his conversion during the 1949 Billy Graham Los Angeles Crusade. Distributed by Gospel Sunrise, Inc.

 

c. 1951

 

T2

 

R

 

3-3/4s ips

 

41 min

 

1

 

----

Interview with Eddie Saurez by Jim Vaus on 11/7/58 in which Saurez describes gang life in Spanish Harlem.

 

1958

 

T3

 

R

 

3-3/4s ips

 

40 min

 

1

 

----

 

YDI banquet featuring message by Governor Mark Hatfield

 

1965

 

T4

 

R

 

3-3/4s ips

 

91 min

 

1

 

----

 

Laymanís Leadership Institute featuring messages from Dr. Armand Nicholi and Fred Smith

 

1965

 

T5

 

R

 

3-3/4s ips

 

191 min

2

 

----

 

Personal testimonies of Jim Vaus and Bob Harrington.

1966

 


 

LOCATION RECORD

Acc 09-46

Type of material: Films

 

 

Call Number

 

Format

 

Color

 

Length

 

Title

 

Description

 

Date

 

F1

16mm

color

3 min

----

Silent home movie footage, depicting trip to Alaska out of Seattle-Tacoma airport. Jim Vaus with two unidentified men

c. 1952

 

F2

16mm

color

3 min

----

Silent home movie footage, depicting individuals boarding plan and taking off. Also Percy Crawford, possibly at Pinebrook Camp

c.1952

 

F3

16mm

color

3 min

----

Silent home movie footage from possibly Alaska. Also footage from Washington D.C. including Jim Vaus, Billy and Ruth Graham in front of The Fairfax Hotel.

c.1952

F4

 

16mm

b/w

43 min

Wiretapper

Reel 1. A cinematic retelling of Vausí life. A sound technician finds himself drawn into the LA underworld working as a wiretapper for mob boss, Mickey Cohen until his dramatic conversion to Christianity

1955

F5

 

16mm

b/w

43 min

Wiretapper

Reel 2. A sound technician finds himself drawn into the LA underworld working as a wiretapper for mob boss, Mickey Cohen until his dramatic conversion to Christianity

1955

F6

16mm

b/w

5 min

----

Footage of Billy Graham in East Harlem, NY. Includes scenes of Graham speaking to teens at the Y.D.I clubhouse and interviews with local youth about Grahamís visit and Jim Vausí ministry in Hell Gate. Some sound.

1960

F7

 

16mm

b/w

54 min

Petey and Johnny

Social reformer, Petey, works with Harlem juvenile delinquents. Gang leader, Johnny, faces the decision to give up his position as gang leader. Produced by Time-Life and Drew Associates

1962

F8

16mm

color

8 min

David Frost Interview with Billy Graham

David Frost interview. Only includes first portion of the interview in which Graham mentions Jim Vausí conversion at the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade. Color partially distorted.

Dec. 1970

F9

16mm

color

17 min

Dilemma in Hell Gate

Promotional short film featuring footage of Jim Vausí ministry in East Harlem, Camp Y.D.I. and a message from Cliff Barrows urging viewers to support Y.D.I. Sound and color partially distorted

1970

F10

 

16mm

 

color

15 min

Itís Cool, Man

YDI promotional film narrated by Jim Vaus, depicting scenes from camp life at Camp YDI. Poor sound quality.

c. 1971

F11

 

16mm

color

30 min

None Ran Last

Young adults sign up for Summit Expedition, a program of wilderness adventure and spiritual growth. A YDI production.

c. 1975

F12

 

16mm

 

b/w

 

10 min

 

The Jim Vaus Story

 

On-site interview with Jim Vaus in East Harlem in which Vaus discusses his ministry to juvenile delinquents and the harsh realities of gang warfare.

 

Undated

 

 

 

LOCATION RECORD

Accession: 09-46

Type of material: Negatives

The following items are located in the NEGATIVE FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

 

 

VAUS, JIM. 145 negatives of various photos from the photo files listed above. Negatives are black and white and color and range in size.

 

 

 

LOCATION RECORD

Acc 09-46

Type of material: Phonograph records

 

 

Call #

 

Size

 

Speed

 

Record Company

 

Title

 

Contents

 

Date

 

P1

 

10"† LP

 

33-1/3 rpm

 

Sacred Records, Inc. Los Angeles, CA

 

I Cannot Hide From God

 

Sound track of the motion picture Wiretapper, including the theme song I Cannot Hide From God by Evangeline Carmichael.

 

1955

 

P2

 

12" LP

 

33-1/3 rpm

 

Word Records, Inc. Waco, Tx

 

The House on Second Street

 

Recording of Jim Vaus describing his work with at-risk youth at Hell Gate Station in Spanish Harlem, NY.

 

1962

 

  


 

LOCATION RECORD

Accession: 09-46

Type of material: Photo Albums

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

 

CAMP CHAMPION - YDI. 29 black and white photos, 21 color photos, and 1 map depicting scenes of camp life at Lake Champion Camp, which opened in 1961 near Glen Spey, NY. Photos show scenes of youth activities, games, canoeing, classes, chapel sessions, and aerial shots of the lake. Title ACamp Champion - YDI@ embossed on cover. 1960s.†

 

 

 

 

 

LOCATION RECORD

Accession: 09-46

Type of material: Photographs

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

 

VAUS, JIM Ė GENERAL. Scenes from Vausí personal life and ministry activities, including family photos; scenes from electronics classes Vaus taught at both Hell Gate and Samís Ranch, as well as sound engineering demonstrations at evangelistic events; shots from the 1950 BGEA Greater Portland Crusade; ministry trips to East Africa and Guatemala, and movie stills from the 1955 film Wiretapper. The shots from East Africa include shots of medical missionary work under Africa Inland Mission in Kenya and the Congo and depictions of Kikuyu tribespeople and culture. Individuals identified in the scenes include Joyce E. Johnson (AIM), Kenneth L. Downing (AIM), Dr. Carl K. Becker (AIM), and portraits of Dawson Trotman (Navigators). 124 b/w. 24 color, 3 contact sheets.

 

VAUS, JIM Ė MISCELLANEOUS MEETINGS I. Shots of Vausí participation in various evangelistic meetings, including scenes from the Post-Minneapolis Convention, a Mayorís Prayer Breakfast, a Missionary Communication Service, Billy Grahamís 65th birthday celebration, and the 1949 LA Crusade Memorial ceremony in 1983, various Youth for Christ meetings Vaus spoke at, a National Youth Workers convention, and a visit to East Africa. Individuals identified in the photos include Jim Vaus, Billy and Ruth Graham, Franklin Graham, Johnny Cash, Stuart Hamblen, Bob Pierce, Grady Wilson, Ethel Waters, Governor Mark Hatfield, Tommy Bartlett. 98 b/w, 45 color.

 

VAUS, JIM Ė MISCELLANEOUS MEETINGS II. More shots of Vausí ministry work, including scenes from Founderís Day Convocation at Houghton Academy and College, and Governor Mark Hatfield and familyís visit to Camp Y.D.I. Other individuals identified include Jim Vaus, Billy Graham, Torrey Johnson, and John Debrine of Ruggles Street Baptist Church in Boston. 69 b/w, 2 color.

 

VAUS, JIM Ė YOUTH DEVELOPMENT INTERNATIONAL. Scenes from Jim Vausí youth ministry in East (ďSpanishĒ) Harlem, popularly known as ďHell Gate.Ē Shots include YDI staff members, outreach activities, and depictions of life in East Harlem. Also includes YDI promotional photos, aerial shots of New York City, photos from Billy Grahamís 1960 visit to East Harlem, photos from an Ebony photo shoot in 1961, and photos from the Deputy Commissioner of Police honoring YDIís work in East Harlem. 140 b/w, 16 color, 1 contact sheet.† ††††††

 

VAUS, JIM ĖY.D.I. CAMPS. Scenes of Vausí camping and wilderness adventure youth work at Camp Champion, Samís Ranch, Green Valley Ranch, and Summit Expedition. Contains shots of the camps and attendees and a 1979 film production of a Summit Expedition wilderness adventure. Individuals identified include Jim Vaus, Mark Hatfield, and George Romney. 118 b/w, 32 color, 9 contact sheets.

 

 

 

LOCATION RECORD

Acc 09-46

Type of material: Slides

The following items are located in the SLIDE FILE. All of the slides are in color, unless otherwise noted.

 

Slide Box 26. Slides S1-S36. Images from a Youth Development International visit to Pine Brook Camp, a youth ministry started by evangelist Percy Crawford. The slides are undated and depict scenes from camp life, including Crawford.

 

 

 

 

LOCATION RECORD

Acc 09-46

Type of material: Video tapes

 

 

Call Number

 

Format

 

Color

 

Length

 

Title

 

Description

 

Date

 

V1

 

 

U-matic

 

Color

 

30 min

 

Tell It All

 

Interview with LA mob boss Mickey Cohen by Jim Vaus.

 

c.1973

 

V2

 

U-matic

 

Color

 

58 min

 

----

 

Footage from the BGEA Greater Sacramento Crusade. Includes testimony by Jim Vaus and Steve Vaus. Produced by the Walter Bennet Co.

 

1983

 

 

V3

 

VHS

 

Color

 

62 min

 

----

 

YDI Leadership Conference, featuring address and prayer by Jim Vaus and message from Mike MacInstosh

 

1990

 

 

 

 

BOX LIST

 

Box

 

Folders

 

Folder Title

 

Dates

 

1

 

 

1

 

Y.D.I. Correspondence

 

1957-1965

 

 

2

Y.D.I. Case Files, Reports, and Invoices

 

1959-1960

 

3

 

Y.D.I. Mailings and Education Materials

 

Undated

 

4

 

Y.D.I. Crossroads Campaign

 

1969

 

5

 

Y.D.I. Newsletters

 

1975

 

6

 

Y.D.I. Newsletters

 

1976

 

7

 

Y.D.I. Newsletters

 

1977

 

8

 

Y.D.I. Newsletters

 

1978

 

9

 

Y.D.I. Newsletters

 

1979

10 Y.D.I Newsletters 1980
11 Y.D.I Newsletters 1981

 

12

 

Y.D.I. Newsletters

 

 

1982

 

2

 

 

1

 

Y.D.I. Journal

 

Undated

 

2

 

Y.D.I. Related Newspaper Clippings

 

1959-1966

í64. Ď66

 

3

 

Y.D.I. Related Magazine Clippings

 

Undated

 

4

 

Y.D.I. Promotional Materials

 

Undated

 

5

 

Y.D.I. Operation Springboard Photo Book

 

Undated

 

6

Camp Y.D.I. Photo Book

 

Undated

 

7

 

Interview Transcripts, Jim Vaus/Bob Crossley, Sessions 1-3

 

1967

 

8

 

Interview Transcripts, Jim Vaus/Bob Crossley, Sessions 4-6

 

1967

 

í64. Ď66

 

9

 

Jim Vaus, Unpublished Autobiographical Manuscript

 

Undated

 

 

 




Send us a message
Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 06/02/17
Expiration: indefinite

© Wheaton College 2017