Papers of Leonard Sheldrake

Scope and Content

An extensive collection of material relating to the life and evangelical activities of Leonard Sheldrake. There is correspondence from Sheldrake to his business partner William J. Pell, with whom he set up the Gospel Folio Press for the production of Christian literature, particularly that concerned with the activities of missionary activity abroad. There is correspondence to his wife and family whilst Sheldrake was engaged in touring America as a roving evangelist. There are magazines, handwritten notes, sermons and articles connected with this activity, and a large detailed scrapbook detailing his activities as an itinerant preacher.

The collection would be of interest to historians of evangelical activity in America, especially in the 1930s, to those interested in the history of Brethrenism, and in Christian missionary activity in general.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leonard Sheldrake was a Brethren preacher, author and editor. He was born in England in 1885 to John and Susan Sheldrake. His immediate family were not religious, but after the death of his father he came into contact with family members who were Baptist, and was himself baptised. As a young man he became a Sunday school superintendent, standing in for the local preacher during his absence. He moved to Canada in 1905 beginning his association with the Brethren through the Broadview assembly in Toronto. Here he became an active gospel preacher. Moving to Winnipeg, he abandoned his job working for a mail order company in 1911 to devote himself to full-time ministry. He married Ada Pearl Clapp on 20 September 1911. They moved to America in 1913 where he began writing gospel tracts, publishing them in the magazines Words of Peace and The North American Evangelist, both of which he edited. The former brought him into contact with William J. Pell who set up the Gospel Folio Press to produce this and other evangelical literature. In 1927 they created Look on the Fields to encourage missionary work abroad. He also produced three books: The Other Side of the Wall (a collection of articles reprinted from Look on the Fields), Tabernacle Types and Shadows, and Our Lord Jesus Christ: a Plant of Renown, which is still in print. He died on 8 May 1952.


The collection has been arranged into 8 series:

  • Correspondence
  • Magazines
  • Photograph
  • Notes and Articles
  • Typescripts and Notes
  • Diaries
  • Annotated Bible
  • Scrapbook

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Jeffrey Staley

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The collection was passed to Jeffrey Staley by Leonard Sheldrake’s grandson Bill Sheldrake, who inherited the collection on the death of Ruth Sheldrake, Leonard’s daughter in 1995.

Geographical Names