Genealogical Resources in the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives
The Archives contains many resources for genealogists and family historians whose ancestors were involved in the work of Christian evangelism or foreign missions, especially during the twentieth century. These resources include correspondences, diaries, personnel and membership files, periodicals, microfilm collections, oral history interviews, photographs, photo albums, and more.
In 2002, Reference Archivist Wayne Weber gave a lecture on the kind of genealogical resources that could be found in the WCBGC Archives' holdings.
Please note: The Archives does not collect denominational records. Anyone searching for congregational records, such birth, baptism, marriage, or membership records for a specific denomination should contact the appropriate denominational archives.
Records of Organizations
The Archives has the files of dozens of parachurch evangelistic and missions organizations. While many of these agencies can have branches in various different countries, the WCBGC Archives focuses on North American or United States branch records. The staff files from these organizations are a valuable resource to genealogists, as they contain information such as service applications, field reports, travel information, medical records, mission station and furlough listings, biographical sketches, and more.
Some collections of major organizations which hold personnel records are:
- Collection 81: Records of Africa Inland Mission (AIM)
- Collection 236: Records of Latin America Mission (LAM)
- Collection 136: Records of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)
- Collection 215: Records of Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF, formerly China Inland Mission)
- Collection 379: Records of the Woman's Union Missionary Society (WUMS)
- Collection 48: Records of Youth for Christ (YFC)
Record samples from some of the above organizations include: missionary applications, health records, news and prayer letters, council minutes, personnel cards, and member photographs.
If you are searching for an ancestor or relative who served with Overseas Missionary Fellowship or Africa Inland Mission, please consult our Genealogist's Guide to OMF & AIM.
Some organizational materials are only on microfilm. The records of the American Home Missionary Society, for example, includes correspondence with hundreds of missionaries from the nineteenth century, documenting their efforts to found churches on the American frontier. Missionary correspondences and reports are also in the records of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the American Sunday School Union.
Sample documents from microfilm collections include: correspondence, missionary tables, and field reports.
Records of Moody Church
The Archives holds the records of Moody Church, a large, independent Chicago-area church extensively involved in evangelistic and foreign mission activities. These records span 1864-1987 and include extensive membership lists, newsletters, photos, and other items of genealogical interest.
Relevant documents from the Records of Moody Church include: membership applications, certificates of reception, letters requesting transfer of membership, marriage, baptism, and death registries.
If you are searching for an ancestor or relative whose marriage was performed at Moody Church, please consult the Moody Church Marriage Register.
Each collection guide in the BGC Archives contains a biographical sketch of the individuals or organizations related to the collection. These brief sketches are compiled by the Archives’ staff as they process the collection and can include valuable information such as birth and death dates, family and educational background, conversion dates, missions postings, furloughs, work experience, etc.