Billy Graham Center

Sawdust Trail Exhibit Items

(Click to see all the clickable exhibit items gathered together without text)
1918 Chicago tabernacle blueprint.  Copy of the original borrowed from Grace Theological Seminary for an Archives exhibit in the early 1980s For most of his ministry, Sunday had a special wooden tabernacle constructed for the meetings he held. At left is the blueprint of the structure built for Sunday's Chicago campaign in 1918. Click on any of the following to see exteriors and interiors of his tabernacles in:

New York Campgaign six-panel pamphlet.  From Collection 29, box 2, folder 2 In addition to all the advance planning, counseling those who "hit the sawdust trail" after a Sunday meeting was also planned. The pamphlet shown to the right was prepared for the New York campaign in 1917 to outline how a prayer network would be developed to support the revival meetings. A similar publication was written to guide volunteer counselors who would talk with those who came forward, suggesting appropriate attitudes, points of emphasis and behavior. Click here to read a full-text transcript of the prayer pamphlet

Opened scrapbook.  From Collection 29, box 4, folder 1 Clipping summarizing a Sunday sermon.  From Collection 29, box 4, folder 1
Scrapbook (left), compiled around 1921, of newspaper clippings, including columns by Sunday such as "Sunday Says"and 'Today's Best Story," but primarily of transcripts of Sunday's sermons (right).

Postcard featuring photos of Sunday team members.  From Photo File:  SUNDAY, WILLIAM ASHLEY Billy Sunday during the height of his fame had about two dozen associates who helped him organize and lead his city-wide meetings. Click here to view a collection of photographs of a few of the following key members of Sunday's team. His wife, Helen Sunday, served as general manager, troubleshooter and protector. She had the final control of day-to-day operations, allowing Sunday to concentrate solely on his preaching. Virginia Asher did a number of things well, including singing, teaching Bible classes, and organizing special meetings of businesswomen during the campaigns. B. D. Ackley served as one of Sunday's pianists for the meetings. Homer Rodeheaver played the trombone and led singing during the evangelistic meetings; he also acted as announcer and master of ceremonies during the service and prepared the crowd for Sunday's sermon.

Chicago campaign statistics.  From the Moody Church records, Collection 330, box 31, folder 11New converts were not simply numbers to talley. Recordkeeping was nonetheless an important element of Sunday's campaigns and instead ensured that the contact with an inquirer or new believer was sustained. Reports and statistics were kept to create a trail by which to maintain contact and evaluate the impact of the meetings. Personal contact began at the evangelistic meeting: everyone who "hit the sawdust trail" shook Sunday's hand and then met with a counselor. The counselor asked the inquirer his/her church preference and jotted down other basic information on a standard card. They then talked about what it meant to give one's life to Christ. The completed cards were later sent on to the local churches the inquirers had indicated, so that the follow-up of young converts could continue. An example of the records kept is depicted in this sheet of statistics, prepared for the board of elders of Moody Church in Chicago, indicating the follow-up volunteers from the church had done with inquirers who came forward during the 1918 Chicago meetings.

Clipping from Brann's Iconoclast.  From William Biederwolf's papers, Collection 195, box 2, folder 2 Front page of the NEW YORK AMERICAN featuring Sunday as preacher and baseball player.  From Collection 29, box 1, folder 4 From about 1910 until 1920, Sunday was a national figure whose name was instantly recognizable to the average person and who received voluminous coverage from magazines and newspapers. These samples illustrate of favorable (left) and negative (right) press coverage Sunday received. Sunday was a prime target for criticism. Brann's Iconoclast (ca. 1918) was a newsletter printed in Chicago which generally attacked the Prohibition movement and what it felt were examples of religious intolerance. Mainstream newspapers often showed support by running special editions about Sunday when he held a campaign in their city or printed "Billy Sunday Extras," like the one above put out by the New York American during Sunday's 1917 meetings in New York City.

Certificate issued to contributors during the 1915 campaign in Paterson, New Jersey.  From Accession 92-35 A committee of local pastors and businesspeople who had invited Sunday to their city usually paid for and built the tabernacle. When the meetings were over, they had it torn down and the lumber was sold to help meet outstanding expenses, if any. Committees often issued a certificate to contributors, such as this one from the Paterson & North Jersey Evangelistic Association at the time of the 1915 campaign in Paterson, New Jersey.

Sunday's sermon notes.  From the Moody Church records, Collection 330, box 62, folder 2 Typed copy of Sunday's notes for a sermon. The outline indicates the first line of his sermon points and illustrations, based on Reveation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." You can also hear an online audio file of Billy Sunday's "Booze" sermon at another Web site.

Portrait photo of Sunday taken from a poster promoting his 1910 campaign in Youngstown, Ohio.  From the Billy Sunday collection, Collection 29, box 2, folder 7 Candid photo of Billy and Helen Sunday.  From Photo File:  SUNDAY, WILLIAM ASHLEY
Although film footage of Sunday is extremely limited, many photographs of Sunday exist, capturing his energetic preaching style, formal poses and down-to-earth ease. To see a compilation of some of these, click here.

Winona Lake Tabernacle.  From Photo File:  SUNDAY, WILLIAM ASHLEY The tabernacle pictured left was erected in Winona Lake, Indiana, the community Sunday used as his home base of operations. The structure, named in Sunday's honor after his death, no longer stands.

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BGC Archives
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Last Revised: 7/26/01
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005