Forty years ago this month, the newly completed Billy Graham Center was dedicated for Christian service on Wheaton College’s campus, the culmination of a decade’s worth of prayer, planning, and construction. The open-air dedication ceremony featured an array of processions, invocations, addresses, and prayers, flanked by performances of Caesar Giovannini and Ralph Vaughan Williams by the Wheaton College Conservatory combined choral groups. The ceremony’s centerpiece was a dedicatory address (Part 1 and Part 2) by the building’s namesake, Dr. Billy Graham, detailing the evangelist’s own intentions for the Center and its impact on the global Christian Church through ongoing education, training, and resources. This September, we celebrate the ongoing realization of Graham’s guiding hopes and commemorate the past four decades of fruitful Christian ministry documented in the Archives’ Collection 3: Records of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. Continue reading
Archival materials find their way to the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives in a myriad different ways. Some materials arrive en masse, in shipping pallets or moving trucks. Other materials wander through the Archives’ doors an item or two at a time. While most collections consist of preplanned donations, other items find their way to the Archives’ vault by way of serendipity—a chance discovery in a grandparent’s attic or secondhand bookseller.
In much the same way, this first edition copy of Billy Graham’s Peace with God traveled a circuitous road to the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives. Discovered in a yard sale by a casual browser, the book’s fly leaf revealed a startling previous owner: Ruth Bell Graham.
Not only did the slim, dark green first edition belong to Ruth Graham, its pages are riddled with her annotations. The unsuspecting yard sale browser quickly realized the unique value of the book and donated it to the Archives in 1997, where it is now housed in Collection 15: Papers of Billy Graham. Continue reading