All posts by David Malone

“I shall wish that I was able to leave the country.”

We think that we may live in a time of deeply partisan politics with a heightened pomposity. However, the fear of the wrong candidate winning is not a new fear.

Just prior to the election of 1880 Maria Bent Nichols wrote to her sister Mary Bent Blanchard. Her letter discusses the general niceties of 19th-century correspondence but then moves to the upcoming election. Looking forward to Garfield’s victory, Nichols feared a win by Winfield S. Hancock.

“I am exceedingly anxious to see the triumph which has begun in Indiana go on till Garfield is seated in the White House. If Hancock is elected I shall wish that I was able to leave the country. I should feel that we were given over.”

We are not told in this letter the cause of Nichol’s fear, but if Hancock won she felt that the country would have been “given over” which is likely a reference to being “given over to Satan” not unlike the troubles sent upon the biblical Job. Maybe Nichols feared for the stability of the economy. A key element of the 1880 presidential campaign was a return to the gold standard for the country’s currency. This was good for fighting inflation, but very bad for those with heavy debts.



This and other letters to and from Jonathan and Mary Blanchard can be found  housed at the Wheaton College Archives of Buswell Library at Wheaton College.

The Book of Second Hesitations

Many a youth minister and pastor has used the tried and true jokes of offering up to their congregations the funny, non-existent, names of books of the Bible. Second Hesitations or First Opinions has produced a good laugh or two as has the Book of Hezekiah. For good or ill, the use of these fictitious titles can also be used to differentiate the true believer from the casual one. The joke can at times backfire. Sometimes the joke isn’t a joke at all but reveals the fluidity of the Christian Bible.

ThirdKingsTake, for instance, the recent acquisition of the Book of Third and Fourth Kings in Buswell Library’s Special Collections. Your average Christian may pass over this title but someone a bit more familiar with the full canon of scripture may do a double-take. Third Kings? The songs of Sunday School go from Genesis through the Pentateuch into the historical books from Joshua to First and Second Samuel then on to First and Second Kings. There is no Third Kings in the childhood song, only Kings followed by Chronicles. This is where history helps us out.

Yet, the Book of Third Kings, or The Third Book of Kings, was how these books were known by the early church. The Israelite believers would have known this book as First Book of Malachim, or as the Vulgate presented it in Latin, “Liber Regum tertius; secundum Hebraeos, Liber Malachim.” It was in the Reformation period that the names of the books were modified. It was not the Catholics or Protestants that encouraged this change, but it was Daniel Bomberg (died 1549), an early printer of Hebrew language book, who introduced this change in his principal edition of the Mikraot Gedolot (rabbinic bible) in 1516-1517.

It took many years for this change to filter into the printings of other Bibles. This edition of Third Kings was a part of an edition of the Great Bible printed in 1566. The original printing of the Authorized, or King James, Bible of 1611 also contained the Book of Third Kings.

An everpresent journey of re-discovery

In a recent posting on, Suzanne Fischer, notes that many “discoveries” that emerge from archives and libraries are not true discoveries but the result of good cataloging and description. She was referencing Charles Leale’s medical report written the morning after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Fischer rhetorically asked her reader if the document had been uncovered in an old attic or beneath a set of stairs. No, she replied. The document was “right where it was supposed to be,” (emphasis by Fischer). The work of archivists and librarians is to describe things so that they may be found and this is exactly what is being done with a significant backlog with Wheaton’s Missions and Evangelism Collection.

Over the years the former Billy Graham Center Library accumulated volumes of interest that lay beyond the staffing resources to fully catalog. Simple bits of descriptive information was added to the library catalog awaiting the day when the records could be expanded and rounded out to include all the pertinent information necessary to help individuals find and use specific volumes. During the summer of 2012 efforts have been underway to sort through the thousands upon thousands of volumes to locate the items of most interest to missions and evangelism for fuller cataloging. Materials not added may be diverted to other suitable collections, such as the Hymnal Collection, the library’s general collection, or elsewhere.

Upon reviewing volumes that had been separated and taking a second pass to be sure that no missions or evangelism titles were missed, two copies of College Students at Northfield were found sitting side-by-side.

College Students at NorthfieldNorthfield was the birthplace of D. L. Moody and was the location of one of his three schools that he helped found: Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies (1879), Mount Hermon School for Boys (1881), and Moody Bible Institute (1886). In 1880 Moody began his Northfield Conferences that drew the likes of George Pentecost, A. J. Gordon, Jonathan Blanchard, and Hudson Taylor, among others. Several years later Moody realized the value of drawing college students into service for missions. With the help of Mr. L. D. Wishard, then college secretary of the International Committee of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States and Canada, the Student Volunteer movement got its start.

Now, back to the two volumes. The first and the second were the same. They had been set aside and were not to be included, yet upon this secondary review, the content had direct relevance to missions and evangelism. While flipping open the second volume the fly-leaf jumped forth. On this page was the signature of Dwight Lyman Moody with an inscription to “my dear friends, Mr. & Mrs. Eccles.” At the bottom of the page was a note written severals years later that noted Moody’s death and his being carried to his grave by the students of the Mount Hermon school.

Dr. F. R. EcclesEccles supported the work of Moody’s ministry. Born in 1843 near Sarnia, Dr. Friend Richard Eccles attended the University of Toronto’s School of Medicine and received an M.B. in 1867 and an M.D. in 1868. Opening a practice in Arkona, Dr. Eccles practiced for nine years before completing studies at St. Thomas Hospital in 1876. He was appointed Professor of Physiology where he instructed students for six years before becoming a Professor of Gynecology. Eccles also served as Dean. As well as being an educator, Eccles was a scholar as he researched, delivered papers, and published his findings. Furthering the work of medical education, he delivered the opening lecture of the Medical Department of the Western University in London, Ontario in 1894. After his retirement he was acknowledged for his work with an honorary LL.D. degree in 1916. Dr. Eccles died in 1924. The entry for Eccles in the Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography notes that he was heavily involved in religious work and served as the president of the YMCA in London, Ontario for three years (1880-1883).

To be sure, this volume will no longer be overlooked, nor will the Christian testimony of Dr. and Mrs. Eccles.

Bezae by Air Mail

On the last day of March 1977 Jerry Hawthorne wrote from Cambridge, England to his colleague Gil Bilezikian. Hawthorne was abroad studying and wanted to alert him to a book by Howard Kee he had just finished reading. He wanted to be sure that Bilezikian was aware if he needed to include it in the book he was writing, later published as The liberated Gospel : a comparison of the Gospel of Mark and Greek tragedy. Hawthorne noted that Kee surveyed the literary antecedents of Mark, notably “Mark as ‘Greek Tregedy,’ Mark as ‘Comedy,’ etc.”

What is most notable about this brief postcard is Hawthorne’s description of Cambridge, which he said “is a wonderful place to retreat for quiet study–reading + research.” He spoke of going “into the bowels of the University library” and being taken beyond vaulted doors to be shown Codex D, the Bezae codex. He wrote to Bilezikian that seeing this 5th century vellum codex was “Priceless.” That postcard, shown here, is of the “famous reading from Luke 6:5 about the man working on the Sabbath.” He finished with an affectionate closing, “Love to you + all at Wheaton.”

Little did Hawthorne know in 1977 that a home near Tyndale College, Cambridge would bear his name. In 1994 the warden of Tyndale House notified the college of the availability of a home within walking distance to Tyndale. It became clear to the college leaders that Tyndale desired Wheaton to acquire the home. Donors were approached and Wheaton purchased the home. President Duane Liftin recounted at the time that “a lot of people said, ‘I think this is a great idea.” The donor wished to express his affection for Hawthorne and name the four-bedroom house after Dr. Gerald Hawthorne, professor of Greek at Wheaton for over 40 years. Through this gift Wheaton’s faculty members on sabbatical can travel to Cambridge and have full access to the facilities of Tyndale House and the libraries of Cambridge University. Having used Tyndale’s library as an Oxford student, Litfin recalled that “there’s nothing like it. It’s the crossroads of the whole world when it comes to studies.”

Living in “The Attic” at 712 Howard

712 Howard St, Wheaton, IL“The Attic” was one of the many off-campus housing options in which students resided during their years at Wheaton College. From the beginning of Wheaton and into the 1940s, the majority of students at Wheaton College and the Academy rented rooms in private homes.

712 Howard was such a home. Known as “The Attic,” this home was owned by the Hansen family from 1940 to 1943. Built in 1931 the home served as the residence for Billy Graham during his junior and senior years (1941-1943). During this time he lived with Lloyd and Albert Fesmire, Don Brown, and the Hansen’s son, Ken. Hansen later went on to be the chairman and chief executive officer of the ServiceMaster company, a company that grew to over $500 million in revenues under his leadership. He also served as a trustee of Wheaton College.

Though living quarters were likely more cramped, living within the nature setting of a home likely had its benefits. However, whether students stayed in College-owned or private homes, they were under the same regulations. Consultation with the Deans was a prerequisite for engaging any rooms. It was a system of the College being “in place of the parents,” while in school at Wheaton.

New Book on Russian Evangelical Spirituality Published

The Development of Russian Evangelical SpiritualityA new book on Russian Evangelical spirituality is receiving strong praise. Aided by the holdings of the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections, along with other archival resources, Gregory Nicholas has produced what Walter Sawatsky of the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, calls a “deep, careful exploration of the developing spirituality and theology of Ivan V Kargel.” Sawatsky goes on to say that in The Development of Russian Evangelical Spirituality, Nichols has made “an important contribution [that] has earned [Nichols] the right to be heard.” Utilizing the Pashkov Papers, Gregory Nichols delves into the life of Kargel, whose life spans from Tsarist Russia to the Soviet Union. Despite Kargel’s disinterest in articulating a systematic theology, Nichols illustrates how the Keswick Holiness movement played a vital role in Kargel’s theology and how Kargel adapted this Western movement to his own context. Commending Nichols’ use of “previously neglected primary sources,” noted scholar, David Bebbington (University of Stirling), reinforces the significance of Kargel as “the most important spiritual writer in the early years of the evangelical Christians-Baptists in Russia and Ukraine.” The history of Christianity in Russia goes back more than a millennium, but the historical tapestry of Evangelical Protestantism was only woven more recently through the influence of German Baptists, a revival sparked by a British evangelist (Lord Radstock), and a pietistic awakening among the Mennonites in the South. It is clear from reviewers that Nichols book is a valuable contribution to the study of global Evangelicalism and the fuller understanding of Russian spirituality.

A myth understanding

As organizations grow and age they soon acquire various myths or legends that attach themselves to the organization and become a part of its heritage and lore. For Wheaton College this is no different. Many Wheatonites, if asked, could readily cite one or two of these myths and the first would most likely have to do with Wheaton College and the Underground Railroad. For those not in the know, for decades it was purported that Wheaton College was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Supported by Wheaton’s history as an abolitionist school, for many years there was no “hard” evidence to support this myth. As reported in this blog, evidence is now known and this myth moved to the fact category.

Other myths that are associated with Wheaton College range from the mundane to the bizarre. Myths are perpetuated and maintain a life of their own because they often contain some elements of truth or plausibility. One such mundane myth is that the Billy Graham Center is sinking. The rates and speed often vary, but the myth states that the Graham Center was built on an ancient aquifer that was naturally swampy (true). Since the BGC is so large and weighty it is too much for this hydric soil. Billy Graham CenterThe land around the BGC naturally attracts water and the adjacent parking area has been known to flood in heavy rains, stranding and ruining dozens of vehicles over the years. Novice historians will note that when the land was cleared and prepped for construction that air hammers rammed dozens and dozens of telephone poles into the soil to serve as pylons for the massive new structure (true). Myth has it that the pylons are decaying and the building is sinking at the rate of an inch or so a year. This all sounds well and good. It seems plausible. Yet, when one brings mathematics into the equation it quickly calls into question the veracity of the myth. If the BGC was opened in 1980 and it is sinking an inch a year then it would have moved 32 inches deeper into the ground. That’s nearly 3 feet! Even if the rate of sinkage was one-eighth inch it would translate to a building that is four inches lower than when it was built. This is half of a step, something we all would notice.

Another myth that continues to capture the attention of students for many decades is the existence of a secret satanic library in “attic” of the Billy Graham Center. When the fifth floor of the Billy Graham Center was used for storage and off-limits students would sneak onto the floor in search of the legendary occult library. Does or did such a library exist? Yes and no.

From 1974 to 2004 the Billy Graham Center operated a library as an extension of its mission. This library, like the museum and Graham Archives, collected materials related to missions and evangelism. In the course of its work it received a large donation of books on cults and the occult from a scholar. The Graham library placed the donation in boxes in a storage cage on the top floor of the Graham Center until they determined what to do with this gift. After several years other priorities took hold and the donation remained untouched. To exacerbate the delays further in 1997 the staff of the Graham library was reduced significantly due to funding shortfalls.

In 2004 further budgetary issues caused the remaining Graham library staff to be let go. At that time the staff of Buswell Memorial Library became responsible for the collections of the Billy Graham Center Library and Buswell’s collection development librarian soon began going through the backlog of the Graham library including the languishing “secret” donation. The quality of the collection was inconsistent and some of volumes were not suitable for addition to the college’s collection. Others were deemed outside of the curricular needs or research interests. Useful books were cataloged and added to Buswell Library’s collections and shelves. And, others were deemed unsuitable for retention. It was some of these latter titles that were the most provocative and intriguing to the eyes of students as they sneaked around and peered into the storage cage. Some of these title were related to the occult and occult practices.

So, was there an “occult library?” Yes, sort of. Was it secret? No. Did it allow for really spooky fun? Just ask the dozens of students who made their way to the storage cage or who keep the story alive.

Other myths include slave tunnels around Blanchard Hall and, even, horses being buried behind Blanchard. There are myths related to notable individuals, such as Wes Craven lived on Elm St. while living in Wheaton, thus helping to inspire the title of his noted horror film. With myths the only limit is the limits on one’s imagination.

“The union of all who love in the service of all who suffer”

Chicago has always been seen as a rough-and-tumble kind of place stuck in the center of this country’s vast agricultural region and far short of the glories of the refined cities of either coast. The former stockyards of Chicago reinforced this. It is said that Chicago’s name can be traced back to native peoples and their name for the wild onions found locally. Onions are grown and mired in mud and muck and this is not too far from an apt description of Chicago’s history.

In the dozen or so years around the turn of the twentieth-century several individuals and writers sought to chronicle and clean up the filth of Chicago. The key event that afforded the opportunity for much of the work was the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Having worked in Chicago for several decades during his worldwide evangelistic ministry, Dwight Lyman Moody held evangelistic meetings for six months during the “fair.” His campaigns have been detailed in Moody in Chicago (1894).

Whereas Moody was the evangelist, William T. Stead was the journalist. His chronicling of the religious needs of Chicago were quite different. Though Moody garnered the public’s attention it was never through outlandish acts or prurience. The same cannot be said for Stead’s provocative work If Christ Came to Chicago. Stead had come to Chicago from London as the fair was closing up. He was known as a great reporter and social reformer and had come to Chicago to study its newspapers, but the exposition’s great White City caught his attention. The thought of its destruction seemed too much and Stead sought to preserve the glories created there. As Stead remained in Chicago his eyes caught sight of another Chicago. Rather than the gleaming purity of the White City he saw the filthy darkness of the Black City that was in need of social and civic regeneration. In all his travels he had never encountered a city with greater promise, or problems.

Map - If Christ Came to ChicagoThe closing of the fair had left many out of work and the economy of Chicago, previously propped up by the fair, tumbled into an economic depression. The great needs that emerged also facilitated an environment filled with licentiousness and debauchery. Stead wrote If Christ Came to Chicago to document the specifics of this environment and mapped it out with great specificity in Chicago’s First Ward. This laid the groundwork for future ethnographic studies of Chicago, most notably the work conducted by Hull House.

By writing this book Stead hoped to enlist the help of Chicago’s churches, the labor unions, and millionaires, many of whom, he felt, had neglected their Christian duty to the poor. His jeremiad was written to incite action. It certainly incited a public response, especially the book’s map of the location of bordellos, saloons, and pawn brokers.

The Octopus on the LakeDespite Stead’s goal of bringing together a “union of all who love in the service of all who suffer,” the dirt wasn’t easily shaken from the wild onion. The roots of the onion are many. Nearly a decade and a half after the close of the Columbian Exposition it was still quite easy to document the problems of Chicago. The Social Evil in Chicago (1911) was a study conducted by the city’s Vice Commission and served as it’s report to the Mayor and city Council “of exciting conditions” in Chicago. The conditions of Chicago had not improved and in some ways were normalized and facilitated as can be seen by the official licensing of prostitution within the bounds of Wentworth and Wabash avenues (p. 38).

Chicago can still be described in many of the same ways as these texts from a century ago. The corruption of Chicago’s First Ward has been the fodder of newspaper accounts in recent decades. It still could use a “union of all who love in the service of all who suffer.”

The Blanchards on the Bible

As a child the Bible intrigued Jonathan Blanchard. He would carry one to school to read enough times that he soon was given the name “Bible Blanchard.” (Minority Of One, p. 20) In his latter years, Jonathan lamented the secularization of the American educational system. He said that “the ‘modern method’ of education is constantly cropping out. So far as we understand it, the modern method means no Bible and no religion of Christ.” The champions of the new method divorced “education from God and His Word …. Christianity speaks now in whispers in common school associations and state universities.” (Minority of One, p. 200). The influence of Jonathan Blanchard’s view of the Bible can be seen in a Wheaton College student’s response to one of his assignments when he wrote “What has made America? … We answer in a word–the Bible. . . . Yes; it is the Bible that gives America her greatness.” (Christian Cynosure, May 1, 1873.)

Charles Blanchard shared his father’s perspective on the Bible in education. He commented on the place of the Scriptures within Wheaton’s education system when he said “Our College is not an experiment …. The Bible is not only considered the ultimate authority in morals and religion, but is taught as a branch of learning, needful to all well-educated persons.” (Fire on the Prairie, p104-5) In his book, Getting Things from God, Charles wrote that “An age or land in which the Bible is neglected will be a time when, or a country where, all sorts of evils prevail.” (p. 145) Jonathan Blanchard said that “the principles of the Bible are justice and righteousness.” (A debate on Slavery, p. 328)

“I kissed it more than once….”

Louis DaguerreToday, November 18th, is the anniversary of the birth of Louis Daguerre. Born in 1787, Daguerre desired to capture the life and people around him in permanent form. He began to do this with dioramas, which he invented, in the 1820s. By 1826 he had learned how to do this using an early form of photography. Partnering with Joseph Niepce, Daguerre was able to hone the skills he learned in order to greatly speed up the photographic process. Because of this daguerratype photographs became quite desirable and all the rage. This is exhibited several ways within the holdings of the Archives & Special Collections.

David Maas wrote in Marching to the Drumbeat of Abolitionism how Civil War soldiers treasured the images they received from loved ones. He said, “Photography was a novelty and soldiers loved to carry tintypes or daguerreotypes in their Bibles. Wheatonite Webster Moses wrote, ‘I still have your picture, which is next to my Bible. Should you have any photographs taken please send me one.’ Luther Hiatt’s letters were full of incessant pleas for his fiancee to have her photograph taken and send it to him. ‘Tira I should have got a picture of myself yesterday taken in Murfreesboro, but I did not have time. If ever I do go to a place where I can get one taken I will do it. I am still looking very anxiously for yours, if you don’t hurry and send it I shall forget how you look.’ When the photograph finally came he was overjoyed: ‘I received your photograph….I was very much pleased to receive it and I kissed it more than once just as I should do if I were to be with you. ‘”

The Jonathan Blanchard letters show several instances of a similar desire to possess these fixed images that Daguerre helped bring to the average person. In 1855 Jonathan Blanchard wrote to his daughter, Mary, who was away at school, asking for a daguerreotype of her. Also, Mary Blanchard’s mother, Catherine Avery Bent wrote to her in 1860 that she was having daguerreotypes taken of her parents’ portraits. Very quickly individuals saw the usefulness of recording information, in this case painted portraits, using the photographic medium.