EDYTHE STIRLEN (1895-1987)
4 linear feet
and audiovisual material
The papers (donor no. 206) were donated by Rosalee Hillman, Edythe Stirlen's daughter, in 1994.
The papers are open for research.
One audiocassette shelved in audiocassette collection (AC124).
Copyright has been
transferred to the
Tammy Lau, 1994.
Bobby Jett, May 6, 1999, version WORD7.
The Reverend Edythe Stirlen,
affectionately known as the "Little Minister," broadcast her sermons
on the radio for over sixty years in
Stirlen attended the
Edythe Stirlen was considered a talented singer who also played the guitar. During her career she received thousands of letters from across the country. Fans also visited her at the station and at her home. During the years that she held S.O.S. conventions in Shenandoah, thousands of people attended to meet the Little Minister. She also reached out to her followers through published prayer pamphlets, postcards and calendars.
In 1935 Stirlen started the S.O.S. (Send Out Sunshine) Signal, a monthly (later bimonthly) magazine for her "congregation." S.O.S. Signal, the second-oldest magazine
in Shenandoah (next to Kitchen Klatter), offered home remedies, recipes, advice, sermons, answers to letters, and news of various people and their families. It ended in 1981 when Stirlen retired.
In 1972 Stirlen organized a trip to
humorous, autobiographical anecdotes, dedicated to shut-ins and the aged because "they have very little to laugh about."
Besides her radio work and ministerial duties, Stirlen was active in a hospital auxiliary, the Eastern Star, the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Nautilus Club (a study club), and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She also devoted much of her time to her church by visiting sick and aged members, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school and substituting for the minister on occasion.
She died on September 17, 1987.
Scope and Content Note
The Edythe Stirlen papers measure 4 linear feet and date from 1930 to 1981. The papers are arranged in three series: Biographical information, Radio broadcasts and Printed materials. They document one woman's work as a broadcast minister from the early days of radio to the 1980s. There is very little on her life outside of radio.
Biographical information (1934-1940, 1975-1980 and undated) contains some correspondence to Stirlen including a telegram informing Stirlen of her father's death as well as a memo from Earl May explaining why her program had been moved from one time slot to another. Additional newspaper articles about Stirlen and five scrapbooks, two of which commemorate her fiftieth year on the radio in 1975 with cards and letters from her fans are included.
The Radio broadcasts (1940-1975 and undated), which form a large part of the collection, are comprised mainly of Stirlen's typewritten sermons spanning over three decades. Each volume of the sermons was originally housed in a binder, some with an index. Some of the earlier sermons are mixed in with later ones, signifying that Stirlen re-used them. However, she kept careful track of when to use each sermon, as evidenced by her Schedule of sermons, 1971-1975. In the second folder of 1940-1942, volume 2, there are instructions and diagrams on how to conduct a wedding. A taped broadcast on audiocassette dates from November 15, 1974 on KFNF and lasts approximately thirty minutes.
Also included in the Radio broadcasts series are the prayers and birthday and anniversary announcements Stirlen read on the air.
S.O.S (Send Out Sunshine) Signal, the magazine that Stirlen began in 1935 to reach out to her listeners, is the main part of Printed materials (1939-1981 and undated). The four Bibles are personal copies of Stirlen's and contain clipped poems, cards,
and bookmarks. In one of the Bibles is a
photograph of the group she took to
two books that Stirlen wrote, From the Land of the Tumbleweed: Tales of my
Childhood (1978) and The Little
Minister's Devotional Selection (1978) are also included in Printed
materials. The Promotional postcards and calendars show Stirlen and her family in
various years, putting a human face to the voice for many of her
listeners. Recipes and remedy includes published recipe pamphlets and a
homemade folk remedy for rheumatism.
Box no. Description
Correspondence, 1934-1935, 1937-1938 and undated
Newspaper articles, 1979, 1980 and undated
Newspaper clippings scrapbook
Items removed from scrapbook
Newspaper clippings, 1937-1938, 1940 and undated
Miscellaneous, 1930-1933, 1938 and undated
1938 and undated
Magazine clippings and correspondence scrapbook
1975 (May 4), fiftieth anniversary on radio
Volume 2 (2 folders)
1940-1948 (2 folders)
1940-1956 (Christmas-New Year's)
1948 (2 folders)
1954-1958 (2 folders)
Volume 2 (2 folders)
1956-1958 (2 folders)
1961 (2 folders)
1962-1963 (2 folders)
Volume 1 (2 folders)
1969-1970 (2 folders)
1971-1973 (2 folders)
1971-1975 (2 folders)
Schedule of sermons, 1971-1975
Taped broadcast, November 15, 1974, KFNF, ca. 30 minutes [shelved in audiocassette collection: AC124]
Volume 1, undated
Volume 2, undated (3 folders)
Various occasions, undated
General, undated (3 folders)
Birthdays and anniversaries (in calendar books)
From the Land of the Tumbleweed: Tales of my Childhood (1978)
The Little Minister's Devotional Selection (1978)
Forty Gospel Hymn Stories (George W. Sanville, 1945)
Sheet music and hymns
Folder 2 [shelved in map case: drawer 4]
"Stories of Famous Hymns" and hymns, undated
Prayer pamphlets, undated
Promotional postcards and calendars, 1934, 1935, 1947, 1948, 1952 and undated
Recipes and remedy, undated
Religious tracts, undated
April 1935-October 1939
November 1939-December 1940
January 1941-October 1942
November 1942-December 1944
January 1945-December 1946
January 1947-December 1948
January 1949-November 1950
January 1951-February/March 1953
April/May 1953-April/May 1956
June/July 1956-February/March 1959
April/May 1959-February/March 1962
April/May 1962-December 1964/January 1965
February/March 1965-October/November 1967
December 1967/January 1968-December 1970/January 1971
February/March 1971-October/November 1973
December 1972/January 1973-April/May 1977
June/July 1977-October/November 1981