The Billy Graham Center Archives now features an online exhibit, titled “The Greatest Youth Gathering in History.” The exhibit tells the story of the 1945 Memorial Day Rally held in Chicago’s famed Soldier Field. The rally was sponsored by the newly formed Youth for Christ (YFC) movement, led in Chicago by Rev. Torrey M. Johnson. The title is taken from YFC’s own handbills and is typical of the movement’s enthusiasm - and eye to publicity.
The rally, which drew an estimated 60,000 people, in many ways was symbolic of the emergence of Protestant evangelicalism as a force within American Christianity and society at large. Many of the people involved in planning or leading the event, such as Billy Graham, would go on to provide leadership in ministries around the world.
The Archives staff, drawing largely on the papers of Torrey M. Johnson, tell the story of the Soldier Field event through photos, documents, posters, plans and audio recordings. Especially interesting are 1940s films of this and other elated YFC events, in both black and white and color, which give a vivid picture of Chicago at the end of World War II.
This exhibit can be viewed at www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/YFC1945.htm. The Archives of the Billy Graham Center is a department of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. For more information, e-mail the Archives staff at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 630.752.5910.