Marginalia in the Archives

Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections holds a wide variety of rare book collections, including more than 200 editions of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, many early texts by and about influential theologians and ministers like John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards, and hundreds of other manuscripts on Christian life, missions, art, and history. A few of these books also include inscriptions and marginalia – the scribbles, notes, and other markings made on the cover pages or in the margins of texts. These extra-textual materials often provide unique insights into the history of a book, as well as its impact.

Continue reading

A Legacy of Women’s Healthcare in China

(CN 379, Folder 4-1)

Across the history of global missions, evangelistic work has often been closely tied with practical or humanitarian outreach, especially care for the sick and hurting. The Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives holds the records of many such missionary doctors, nurses, and mission hospitals. One of the oldest mission hospitals represented in our collections is the Margaret Williamson Hospital, opened in 1885 in Shanghai, China under the Woman’s Union Missionary Society of America for Heathen Lands (commonly referred to as Woman’s Union Missionary Society or WUMS).

Continue reading

Around the World in 1905

(CN 330, Folder 71-3)

Fittingly, most of the records held in the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives document the work of global missions and evangelism. But, as an archive of people’s lives, as well as their ministries, our records can also provide fascinating windows into the experiences and adventures of past generations. This week, we feature a scrapbook from Collection 330: Records of Moody Church that chronicles the 1905 world travels of William Borden, future missionary and board member of Moody Church.

Continue reading

E. J. Carnell and the Mad Race for Relevance

Because Wheaton College is frequently associated with C.S. Lewis, whose papers are archived on campus at the Marion E. Wade Center, the popular English author is often humorously invoked as its patron saint. But the appellation could just as aptly fit Dr. Edward John Carnell, whose academic objectives, directly or indirectly, color the mission statements of nearly all accredited American evangelical liberal arts institutions. As theologian, philosopher and professor, Carnell played a crucial role in the development of contemporary evangelicalism, believing that conservative Christians too often failed to intellectually engage with the challenges posed by modernism. Widely networked among prominent American evangelicals of the mid-twentieth century, the movements of his extraordinary career can be seen in the various collections, books and files maintained by Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections.  

Continue reading

Jazz Age Evangelism: Paul Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle

Advertisement announcing the Steel Tent, which became the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle,1922. (CN 38, Folder 1-52)

Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections holds the stories of many an unsung figure in the history of evangelism, people who made an impact in their own time but are little remembered today. Such a one is Daniel Paul Rader, more widely known by his middle name Paul. The Chicago Gospel Tabernacle he started in the 1920s was a center of innovation and excitement, launching the ministries of several significant evangelical Christian figures of the next generation.

Rader was the son and grandson of ministers and was one himself for a few years, before a loss of faith led him to resign his pastorate. After leaving the ministry, Rader worked as a boxing promoter and then as an oil company representative. Around 1912 Rader experienced a renewal of his Christian faith. He became active in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, eventually serving as an assistant to C&MA founder A. B. Simpson on Simpson’s evangelistic tours. The next year Rader became an evangelist himself and preached around the United States. In 1915, he accepted the pulpit of Moody Church in Chicago and in 1919, upon the death of Simpson, Rader became the second president of C&MA.

Continue reading

Giving Old Images a New Life: Digital Preservation in the Archives

This week we go behind the scenes of Buswell Library Archives and Special Collections with a guest post from Becky Baker Halberg, who completed a practicum with the Archives last fall. Becky is an alumna of both Wheaton College and Wheaton College Graduate School and holds a B.A. in history and theology and a M.A. in History of Christianity. She is currently finishing her final semester at University at Buffalo where she is expected to graduate with her M.S. in Information and Library Science in May 2022. Becky worked at Wheaton College for the last five years while completing her M.A. before recently relocating to Minnesota. In addition to her interest in archival research related to the history of Christianity, she enjoys exploring the topic of Christian laity’s information literacy, particularly concerning the role of church libraries in fostering its growth.

This past fall, I had the privilege of participating in the inaugural Wheaton College Buswell Library Archives & Special Collection Digital Preservation Practicum. Over the course of the fall semester, under the guidance of Katherine Graber, Assistant Professor of Library Science, and Emily Banas, Public Services Archivist, I reorganized, compiled metadata, and ingested into Preservica hundreds of slide images from Collection 278 Papers of Elisabeth Elliot.

Continue reading

Music in the Archival Sphere

Music is an intricate part of every human culture, including not only the production and enjoyment of sound itself, but the place it has in shaping memory and the tone of everyday life.

Song sheet from a 1948 YFC rally in Nimes, France. (CN48, Folder 14-50)

While an expression of art, music can also be a demonstration of deep-held values, hopes and fears, both for individuals and communities. As one of the central missions of Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections includes preserving the history of evangelism and evangelical Christianity, we have sought to document the music of evangelism, in all its variety and multitude.

Continue reading

A Call to United Action: Commemorating 80 Years of the National Association of Evangelicals

Buswell Library Archives and Special Collections holds the records of many national evangelical organizations – From Youth for Christ (CN 48) and Christianity Today (CN 08) to Christians for Social Action (CN 37) and Prison Fellowship Ministries (CN 274). These collections provide valuable and fascinating insights into the history of evangelical Christianity in the United States. But few offer as broad a view of American evangelicalism in the last half of the 20th century as the National Association of Evangelicals (SC 113), which celebrates the 80th anniversary of its founding conference this month.

Meeting on April 7th 1942, the group of 147 evangelical pastors, leaders, and educators gathered together in St. Louis to answer: Who could speak for evangelical Protestantism in America?

St. Louis Conference, 1942. (SC113, Folder 10-6)
Continue reading

“The Letter Kills but the Spirit Gives Life”: Julia E. Smith’s Bible Translation

From the first century onward, the form and text of the Bible has been a source of near-endless debate, review, reinvention, and artistry. Available in thousands of different translations, editions, and compilations, it is a text that is at once universal and individual.

Title page for a King James translation, 1613. (SC-10)

Buswell Library Archives & Special Collections holds more than five hundred whole or partial Bible monographs. Each of these instances carry forward the spirit of their common text and yet remain unique, with their own voices and particularities. Some of this variety comes from the different language translations available in the Archives (ranging from Hawaiian to Sanskrit), but remarkable diversity can also be found within the English translations alone.

The archive’s shelves include multiple printings, editions, and facsimiles of famous English translations, such as the Wycliffe Bible (1388), the Coverdale Bible (1535), and the King James version (1613), as well more modern classics, like the New International Version (1984) and the Living Bible (1971), among many others.   

Continue reading