Category Archives: Researcher Publications

“Usefulness of Woman” – Sesquicentennial Snapshot

The following comments from David Maas’ Wheaton College Awakenings, 1853-1873 illustrate the image of the ideal woman from “The Beltonian Review” 1857.

Few there are that realize the influences that Woman exerts over man, society, and the world….In her hands may it be truly said are the destinies of men and nations, for in every civilized nation in Christendom, she guards the path of the man from the cradle to the grave and yet the education and elevation of her who is to man the daystar of hope, are viewed by many as visionary, chimerical, unnecessary; and only to be sought so far as fancy may dictate for purposes of fashion and folly….Who but she lays the foundation of character for man and the nation? There is none to whom the child looks with such confidence as the mother….Then if woman is called to fill this high and important station that of molding and framing the character of immortal beings then how vastly important is it that she be educated and elevated according to her sphere….There is another class and I am sorry to say, largely represented by females who seem to think that woman was made for a mere toy to be kept in the parlor, not for any special use or benefit, but as the toy man wears within in his showcase to attract the eye….when her sons have grown to belong to manhood….they come within the empire of young ladies whose power and influence over young men are without a parallel. It is the province of young ladies alone of every community to raise the moral standard the province of young men to reach it. Finally,…comes the and love more mature influence of the wife….Hers alone then is the holy calling to apply the balm, to pour the oils of love, through all life’s journey into the heart of man, when lacerated by the constantly accumulating cares and burdens of life. Mothers, sisters, wives, let each of us be up and ready to act well our parts that our influence for good, though the proper education has been denied us for these offices as falling is best we can that the rising race may see and learn and appreciate the usefulness of woman.

Through the Eyes of a Child – Sesquicentennial snapshot

The following comments by Charles Blanchard, who would have been 12 years-old when his father, Jonathan, assumed the presidency in 1860, are taken from David Maas’ Wheaton College Awakenings, 1853-1873.

“That fall [1860] I entered the academy, and my father being president of the institution, of course I was in touch with all college affairs. The home in which we lived was a small house one block south of the southwest corner of the campus, now owned and occupied by Mr. E.P. Webster, an alumnus. It is, as all who know it will remember, a very small house. My father had his study in the college building. There was only one building then and it was a very small part of what the central building is now. My father’s study was in the southwest corner. On the floor there were four class rooms. The college library was in my father’s office, and there was ample room for it there. I remember that when I was a child my father frequently wrote very late at night and that a light from his office window shown out in the dark.

My father’s life in the college was as my own has been. He taught the seniors and gave himself afternoons, Saturdays, Sabbaths, summer and winter, to the outside interests of the college. In this way funds were secured and students were attracted.”

Wheaton College, 1860“We, that is, the family, arrived in Wheaton on an April day in the year 1860. The thunder of the guns about Fort Sumter was only a year away yet there was no hint of that dread concert in the air or the earth of that April morning. As already intimated the town was unspeakably dreary. The cold damp of the spring rains, the low marshy grounds the inferior huddle of houses, the single college building standing alone in the midst of its campus, the boarding house at the foot of the hill, cheaply constructed altogether was wearisome and dreary.

My father had been at work since the preceding January. I marvel now as I think of his faith and courage and cheer as in those unfavorable circumstances, with almost no resources, he pushed on the work of empire-building. Not a material empire but a spiritual kingdom founded in the soul of men, to outlast the mountains and the stars.”

Kennedy and Nixon

The Making of a Catholic PresidentKennedy’s run for the U.S. presidency brought to the fore many concerns about the role of religion in public life. Grave were the concerns of some that Kennedy, as a Catholic, would have divided allegiances and may swear more allegiance to the Pope (viewed as a foreign and religious power) than the Constitution.

Shaun Casey explores this tension in the 1960 Presidential election. Within his work he delves into the role that Evangelicals played in the religious debate. He illuminates how both Kennedy and Nixon used religion to their advantage. Casey’s readers will gain a sense of the anti-Catholic sentiments that were widely resident in American culture, making references to activities by Evangelicals to mobilize and convey the potential dangers in electing a Catholic president.

Casey served as senior adviser for Religious Affairs and Evangelical Coordinator for the Barack Obama presidential campaign. He is also Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary. Casey’s critically acclaimed work utilized resources from the records of the National Association of Evangelicals (SC-113).

The Chrysostom Society

Artists often create in solitude, so it is not uncommon for these lonely souls to seek the company of other creative minds for encouragement, comfort and inspiration. For instance, author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, portraitist Joshua Reynolds, historian Edward Gibbon, novelist Oliver Goldsmith and other 18th Century literary elite comprised “The Club,” assembling regularly for spirits and spirited conversation in London salons. Similarly in the 1930s, the “Inklings” of Oxford, England, gathered in a cozy pub where, amid swirling pipe smoke and raucous laughter, scholars such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams read their as-yet unpublished works, welcoming constructive scrutiny.

John ChrysostomThe tradition, now evangelically flavored, continues with “The Chrysostom Society,” named after the “golden-mouthed” third-century Church Father, reflecting his respect for words rightly used. Initially conceived as a Christian artists’ guild, the small collection of writers soon shifted emphasis, providing a wider arena for imaginative expression, expanding as it attracted interest. As Bible translator Eugene Peterson explains, “They felt it was really important to just get together, write together, and believe in each other as practitioners of a craft to the glory of God.”

Meeting informally at a rural retreat for four days annually, membership, though varying, caps at twenty. Organized in its early stages by Richard Foster, the Chrysostom Society’s roster includes Larry Woiwode, Calvin Miller, Eugene Peterson, Robert Siegel, Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen Lawhead, Harold Fickett, Diane Glancy, Jeanne Murray Walker, Phil Keaggy, Karen Mains and Gregory Wolfe. In addition to enjoying the refreshing pleasures of personal camaraderie, the Society occasionally collaborates on a manuscript. Their first work, Carnage at Christhaven (1989), is a comedic mystery based on a unique concept devised by the Detection Club of London, a coterie of crime novelists such as G.K. Chesteron, Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr and others. For the Club’s corporate novel, The Floating Admiral (1931), participants each contributed a chapter, round-robin style.

Reality and the VisionUsing this method for other publications, the Society then produced Once Upon a Christmas, a slim volume graced with colorful illustrations, assembling thoughtful seasonal memories interspersed with poems by Luci Shaw. In Reality and the Vision (1990), edited by Philip Yancey, the Society reflects on writers who influenced their own visions of the human condition: Walter Wangerin on Hans Christian Anderson; Larry Woiwode on Leo Tolstoy; John Leax on Thomas Merton, etc. The Swifty Tilting Worlds of Madeleine L’Engle (1998), edited by Luci Shaw, collects essays from members and other friends celebrating the 80th birthday of the beloved novelist. Among the Chrysostom Society, Wheaton College Special Collections possesses the papers of Luci Shaw, Madeleine L’Engle, Calvin Miller, Karen and David Mains and Robert Siegel.


Charles A. BlanchardIn Paul Bechtel’s Wheaton College: A Heritage Remembered, it is remarked that “Jonathan Blanchard drove himself unsparingly. He traveled, lectured, organized and promoted agencies for social justice, and labored in the cause of Christian higher education. Never a physically robust man, he suffered from chronic dyspepsia and periods of weakness. In the hope that his health might be improved, the trustees granted him a six-month leave of absence in the spring of 1864, enabling him to fulfill a long-held desire to see territory west of the Mississippi. With sixteen-year-old Charles at his side, he set out by covered wagon across Illinois, and pressed on beyond the great river. Since many wagon trains were moving in the same direction, it was easy for father and son to link up with one of them. Having passed through Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, they came finally to Salt Lake City, where the Mormons were building their city and rearing the great temple on the square.”

History’s only records of this grand expedition are the personal letters that Jonathan and Charles wrote home from the frontier. Due to the economic hardships of the time, the promise of gold seemed to add an alluring element to their journey. As an idealistic teenager, young Charlie wrote that he was becoming enamored with pioneer life and proclaimed, “I think it hardly possible to think of going back to Illinois for the remainder of the years I am allotted here on earth.” Obviously, the events of Charles’ life unfolded much differently and he went on to attend Wheaton College and later serve as its second president for the remainder of his life. Below are excerpts from letters written during their journeys out west.

Letter from Charles Blanchard to “Friends at Home” (Platte River. 6/19/1864)

“Some of our boys have found gold here which is in little grains very fine in sand. I heard one say he had made 20 dollars a day mining in no better diggings than these but we must go on until we find a place where we can pick up the pieces for I have got my eye on a place 60 miles this side of Omaha…”

Letter from Jonathan Blanchard to his wife, Mary (Virginia City, Montana. 8/9/1864)

“They have dug down to what they call here ‘pay dirt’ and today or tomorrow expect to try and wash out some gold. But the claim cost little and we expect little more than expenses from it.”