Wesleyan Bible Class Records

Dates: 1905-1952
Size: 1.5 linear feet, 39 photographs, 2 oversize folders
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_WBC
Provenance: The material in this collection was collected by Wesleyan Bible Class member Mabel Kennicott, who lived at 300 Hamilton Avenue, Chicago. Miss Kennicott spearheaded the attempt to hear from past class members for the 1951 and 1952 reunions. Additional material was originally cataloged as part of the West Garfield Park Community Collection (WGP), box 4 folder 9. Additional information on the class and class teacher Frank L. Wood is available in the West Garfield Park Community Collection, box 1 folder 15. Woods’ scrapbooks are cataloged separately as the Frank L. Wood Collection (WOOD).
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Wesleyan Bible Class Records [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.

Historical Note

The Wesleyan Bible Class was founded in 1880 by Calla Scott Willard, with twelve boys as members. Over the next sixteen years, the class was taught by six different teachers and then disbanded. In September, 1896, the class was reorganized under Frank L. Wood (1864-1945) with 27 members. Wood continued to lead and teach the class until his death 48 years later. At its height, the class numbered some 900, although membership included persons in forty states and twelve foreign countries. Nevertheless, attendance was large, being on the average 626 per meeting in 1940. The motto of the class was "Search the Scriptures" and throughout its history the emphasis remained that of Bible study. Rather than being linked to one congregation, it was designed to serve churches on the West Side of Chicago. While Wesleyan / Methodist in doctrine, the class stressed an interdenominational character. The class met on Sunday afternoons so as not to conflict with Sunday school and church programs. From its founding until 1929, the class met at the Western Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church on the Near West Side at the corner of Western Avenue and Monroe Street. When that church building was closed, the class moved to the Olivet Methodist Episcopal Church at the corner of Adams and Keeler in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.

Following the death of Frank L. Wood in 1945, the class officially disbanded and a "Wesleyan Association" was founded to keep the members together via occasional social fellowship. But not many months had gone past before the class members had reorganized and prevailed upon the current pastor of Olivet Methodist Church to teach it. The Wesleyan Bible Class was instrumental in starting other Wesleyan classes, and in its annual "Other Class Sunday" program invited all these other classes to join it for a day, and attendance at these events often numbered 800.

Scope and Content

This collection contains primarily materials produced by the Wesleyan Bible Class to advertise its meetings. The folders are arranged alphabetically. The largest series are Anniversaries (1:1-44), Newsletters (2:10-19), and Programs and invitations (2:21-3:7). The collection documents the heavy publicity campaign which the class used to make itself known in the church community and to the public in general.

Of particular note are programs in the Anniversaries section which are elaborate paper cuts. Included are programs in the shape of a maple leaf (1:3), a writing pen (1:6), a fishing basket with fish (1:10), a sailboat (1:11), a star of David (1:12), an American flag (1:13), a bell (1:17), the number 4 (1:18), a palette (1:19), a radio microphone (1:22), a hatchet (1:25), and a shoe (1:27).

Separation Record

The following materials have been removed from the Collection and transferred to the locations listed below:

  • Transferred to the Chicago City-Wide Collection (Supplement 4)-Biography: Gunsaulus, Frank Wakely (1856-1921)-Memorial Service program
  • Transferred to the Suburbia Collection: Irving Park-Churches-Presbyterian Reformed Church-The Church Bell; July 1910

Container List

Box 1 Folder 1 Anniversaries--25th; 1905
  Oversize 1 Anniversaries--25th; 1905
Box 1 Folder 2 Anniversaries--26th; 1906
Box 1 Folder 3 Anniversaries--27th; 1907
Box 1 Folder 4 Anniversaries--28th; 1908
Box 1 Folder 5 Anniversaries--30th; 1910
Box 1 Folder 6 Anniversaries--31st; 1911
Box 1 Folder 7 Anniversaries--32nd; 1912
Box 1 Folder 8 Anniversaries--33rd; 1913
Box 1 Folder 9 Anniversaries--34th; 1914
Box 1 Folder 10 Anniversaries--36th; 1916
Box 1 Folder 11 Anniversaries--37th; 1917
Box 1 Folder 12 Anniversaries--38th; 1918
Box 1 Folder 13 Anniversaries--39th; 1919
Box 1 Folder 14 Anniversaries--40th; 1920
Box 1 Folder 15 Anniversaries--41st; 1921
Box 1 Folder 16 Anniversaries--42nd; 1922
Box 1 Folder 17 Anniversaries--43rd; 1923
Box 1 Folder 18 Anniversaries--44th; 1924
Box 1 Folder 19 Anniversaries--45th; 1925
Box 1 Folder 20 Anniversaries--47th; 1927
Box 1 Folder 21 Anniversaries--48th; 1928
Box 1 Folder 22 Anniversaries--49th; 1929
Box 1 Folder 23 Anniversaries--50th; 1930
Box 1 Folder 24 Anniversaries--51st; 1931
Box 1 Folder 25 Anniversaries--52nd; 1932
Box 1 Folder 26 Anniversaries--53rd; 1933
Box 1 Folder 27 Anniversaries--54th; 1934
Box 1 Folder 28 Anniversaries--55th; 1935
Box 1 Folder 29 Anniversaries--56th; 1936
Box 1 Folder 30 Anniversaries--57th; 1937
Box 1 Folder 31 Anniversaries--58th; 1938
Box 1 Folder 32 Anniversaries--59th; 1939
Box 1 Folder 33 Anniversaries--60th; 1940
Box 1 Folder 34 Anniversaries--61st; 1941
Box 1 Folder 35 Anniversaries--62nd; 1942
Box 1 Folder 36 Anniversaries--63rd; 1943
Box 1 Folder 37 Anniversaries--64th; 1944
Box 1 Folder 38 Anniversaries--66th; 1946
Box 1 Folder 39 Anniversaries--67th; 1947
Box 1 Folder 40 Anniversaries--68th; 1948
Box 1 Folder 41 Anniversaries--69th; 1949
Box 1 Folder 42 Anniversaries--70th; 1950
Box 1 Folder 43 Anniversaries--71st; 1951
Box 1 Folder 44 Anniversaries--72nd; 1952
Box 2 Folder 1 Barnes, James (English visitor to WBC)-Program for reception; 1907
Box 2 Folder 2 Caravans to Malden, IL (home of Frank L. Wood); 1941-42
Box 2 Folder 3 Death notices and memorial services
Box 2 Folder 4 Horowitz, Charles I. (President of WBC)-Send-off supper; 1914
Box 2 Folder 5 Letters-Annual letters, anniversary letters, quarterly letters from Frank L. Wood; 1908-42
  Oversize 2 Letters-Annual letters; 1916-1930
Box 2 Folder 6 Newspaper clippings-The Bible Class; 1906
Box 2 Folder 7 Newspaper clippings-The Church World; [1910s]
Box 2 Folder 8 Newspaper clippings-Our Church Paper; [1930s]
Box 2 Folder 9 Newspaper clippings-Miscellaneous
Box 2 Folder 10 Newsletters- The Wesleyan Advocate ; 1908 Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr
Box 2 Folder 11 Newsletters- The Wesleyan Advocate ; 1909 Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, June, July
Box 2 Folder 12 Newsletters- The Wesleyan Advocate ; 1910 Jan, Feb, Mar
Box 2 Folder 13 Newsletters- The Wesleyan ; 1910 May, June, Aug, Dec
Box 2 Folder 14 Newsletters- The Wesleyan ; 1911 Jan, Feb, Mar, June, July, Sep
Box 2 Folder 15 Newsletters- The Wesleyan ; 1912 Apr, May, June, July, Sep, Oct
Box 2 Folder 16 Newsletters- The Vacationite ; 1926 Oct 4
Box 2 Folder 17 Newsletters- Olivet Methodist Episcopal Advocate ; 1935 Nov, 1938 Nov
Box 2 Folder 18 Newsletters- Wesleyan (v.1, n.1,2); 1939-40
Box 2 Folder 19 Newsletters- Olivet Methodist Messenger ; 1949 Oct
Box 2 Folder 20 Olivet Methodist Church-50th Anniversary program; 1939
Box 2 Folder 21 Programs and invitations-Children’s Day
Box 2 Folder 22 Programs and invitations-Christmas
Box 2 Folder 23 Programs and invitations-Easter
Box 2 Folder 24 Programs and invitations-June Recitals; 1913-20
Box 2 Folder 25 Programs and invitations-Lee, Philip Yung (China missionary); 1939-44
Box 2 Folder 26 Programs and invitations-Memorial Day/Armistice Day/Patriotic rallies
Box 2 Folder 27 Programs and invitations-Miscellaneous
Box 2 Folder 28 Programs and invitations-Mother’s Day
Box 2 Folder 29 Programs and invitations-Move from Western M.E. to Olivet M.E.; 1929
Box 3 Folder 1 Programs and invitations-"Other Class Sunday"-1st -3rd ; 1927-1929
Box 3 Folder 2 Programs and invitations-"Other Class Sunday"-4th-6th; 1930-32
Box 3 Folder 3 Programs and invitations-"Other Class Sunday"-7th-9th; 1933-35
Box 3 Folder 4 Programs and invitations-"Other Class Sunday"-11th -13th; 1937-1939
Box 3 Folder 5 Programs and invitations-"Other Class Sunday"-14th-16th; 1940-42
Box 3 Folder 6 Programs and invitations-Recitals
Box 3 Folder 7 Programs and invitations-Thanksgiving
Box 3 Folder 8 Song Sheets and poetry
Box 3 Folder 9 Western trip (British Columbia and California); 1926 June-July
Box 3 Folder 10 Willard, Calla Scott (Founder of WBC)-Programs honoring; 1925, 1929
Box 3 Folder 11 Wood, Frank L. (WBC Teacher)- Khaki and Blue (Chicago: Abington Press, 1918)
Box 3 Folder 12 Wood, Frank L.- The Layman’s Galilean (Chicago: Grant’s Printery, 1938)
Box 3 Folder 13 Wood, Frank L.-Miscellaneous writings
Box 3 Folder 14 Wood, Frank L.-Personal

PHOTOGRAPHS

Photos 1.1 to 1.15 are postcards, produced in the first decade of the 20th century.

Photograph 1.1 1.1 Banquet in honor of Mr. and Mrs. James Barnes, May 6, 1907
Photograph 1.2 Baseball games, Desplaines camp ground, "The Victors"
Photograph 1.3 The class in session, February 23, 1908
Photograph 1.4 A few of its many nationalities [composite photo of class members of foreign countries]
Photograph 1.5 Getting ready for an anniversary
Photograph 1.6 Mr. and Mrs. James Barnes of Liverpool, England, and the "English Committee"
Photograph 1.7 The old class home. Last used February 9th, 1902
Photograph 1.8 Our absent members are in 42 states [map of United States]
Photograph 1.9 Our only honorary members, Mr. and Mrs. James Barnes
Photograph 1.10 Picnic, Forest Glen, Ill., July 4, 1907
Photograph 1.11 Quarter century anniversary banquet, October 20, 1905
Photograph 1.12 Reading desk presented by Mr. and Mrs. James Barnes
Photograph 1.13 Sent by a visitor, framed and hung on the class room wall [plaque], 1899
Photograph 1.14 Two of our absent members, Berkeley, California
Photograph 1.15 [Wood, Frank L.]

Photos 2.1 to 3.9 are 3.5" x 5.5" black and white snapshots.

Photograph 2.1-2.14 Caravan to Malden, Ill., 1941
Photograph 3.1-3.9 Caravan to Malden, Ill., 1942 [includes photos of Frank L. Wood’s boyhood home]

Photo 4.1 is a 6 3/4" x 8 1/2" print

Photograph 4.1 [Historical pageant] May not be the Wesleyan Bible Class; photo is unidentified. There appear to be 45 stars on the U.S. flag which would indicate a date of prior to 1907.
Print