2023 Annual Lecture

Dr. Devin Manzullo-Thomas, "Exhibiting Evangelicalism: Exploring the History of Christian Museums in the United States"

Billy Graham Museum Original Exhibit

What is it like to do historical research in the Archives? How do researchers use scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, oral history interviews, and other materials to construct an historical narrative? What are the benefits of using these physical fragments to understand the past? Every year, the Archival Research Lecture features a scholar whose research in Archives & Special Collections addresses these questions.

In the United States, museums are respected cultural institutions and are viewed as places for education, tourism, or the cultivation of civic virtue—supposedly secular purposes. But many museums challenge this simple characterization, including museums owned and operated by evangelical Christians. In this lecture, Dr. Devin Manzullo-Thomas draws on his extensive research conducted in the Evangelism & Missions Archives at Wheaton College to examine the long history of evangelical museums in America, including Wheaton’s own Billy Graham Center Museum. The talk explores how these museums came to exist, the narratives they promote, and how they impact public culture in the United States today.

Devin Manzullo-ThomasDevin Manzullo-Thomas is Assistant Professor of American Religious History at Messiah University, where he also serves as the Director of the E. Morris and Leone Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies. His first book, Exhibiting Evangelicalism: Commemoration and Religion’s Presence of the Past, was published by the University of Massachusetts’ Press in 2022.

Co-sponsored by the Aequitas Fellows Program in Public Humanities and Arts and the Wheaton College History Department.

Listen to the audio recording for Dr. Manzullo-Thomas' lecture.