Skip to main content

Chick Tract Collection

 Collection
Call Number: RG 270

Scope and Contents

The controversial tracts written and illustrated by Jack T. Chick since the early 1960s document a fringe element of American Christian fundamentalism and provide valuable insight into the reaction of evangelicalism to cultural upheavals in America society. Chick has printed and distributed more 800 million Christian fundamentalist tracts, which have been translated into more than 100 languages. The tracts are of a distinctive format, three inches high by five inches wide in dimension, and usually 24 pages in length, illustrated in comic book /graphic novel style The front panel features the title of the tract and the inside back panel is devoted to a standard sinner's prayer. While many of the tracts convey theological views generally accepted in evangelical Christian thought, a substantive number express more controversial ideas, attacking evolution, homosexuality, paganism, witchcraft, Catholicism, rock music, role-playing games, and other aspects of American popular culture. Chick is particularly known for his attacks on Roman Catholics, Freemasons, Muslims, and Jews.

As noted by Cynthia Burack, author of the article “From Doom Town to Sin City: Chick Tracts and Anti-gay Political Rhetoric” (New Political Science. June 2006): “Some Christian Right opinion leaders regard the tracts with ambivalence, and many outside the Christian conservative community who comment on Chick's career believe that the tracts are no longer available through Christian retail outlets. Not only are the tracts still available, they represent an important form of conservative Christian political pedagogy.” For more information about the development and impact of Chick tracts, see the article on Chick in the reference work Culture Wars in America: an Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices / Roger Chapman and James Ciment, editors, and a 2016 senior thesis by Yale undergraduate Whitney Wyckoff, “Saved by Chick?: a case study of American Evangelical Christianity, 1960s-1970s,” which is available in the Divinity Library’s Record Group 95, Reference Collection of Unpublished Papers.

This collection of Chick tracts, compiled by donation and purchase, contains a nearly complete inventory of tracts published by Chick from 1961 to 2015. The tracts are listed in chronological order by their first date of publication. The information about publication date has been taken from a chronological listing of the tracts found at http://www.chickcomics.com. The dates provided would appear to indicate multiple printings of certain tracts over a range of years. The catalog of tracts on the Chick Publications site, http://www.chick.com/catalog/tractlist.asp, has links to online versions of some. In the listing below, an asterisk after the title indicates that the tract is currently out of print and no longer being distributed. The scope and content note indicates whether the art is by Chick himself or by Fred Carter, who was hired by Chick in 1972 to illustrate some of the tracts; this information is as provided by the chickcomics.com website.

See Record Group 321 for Chick Publications graphic novels in 7 inch by 10 inch format.

Dates

  • 1961 - 2015

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired by anonymous donation and purchase, 2015

Arrangement

  1. I. Chronological Sequence - 1960s
  2. II. Chronological Sequence - 1970s
  3. III. Chronological Sequence - 1980s
  4. IV. Chronological Sequence - 1990s
  5. V. Chronological Sequence - 2000s
  6. VI. Background Material

Extent

2 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/divinity.270

Overview

Controversial tracts written and illustrated in comic book style by Jack T. Chick since the early 1960s document a fringe element of American Christian fundamentalism and provide valuable insight into the reaction of evangelicalism to cultural upheavals in America society.

Biographical / Historical

Jack Thomas Chick was born April 13, 1924, in Boyle Heights, California. Following his graduation from high school, he studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse School of Theater but was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and served for three years in New Guinea, Australia, the Philippines, and Japan.

After the war, Chick returned to his studies at the Pasadena Playhouse and there met his future wife there, Lola Lynn Priddle. Priddle came from a religious background and introduced Chick to evangelical religion, including the Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio show, which Chick indicates was instrumental in his conversion.

Eager to share his religious faith but anxious about verbal interactions with people, Chick came up with the idea of using his artistic talents to create tracts that could be given to people directly or indirectly. He self-published his first tract, "Why No Revival?," in 1960 and published his second tract, "A Demon's Nightmare," in 1962. By 1970 Chick Publications was officially established in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Chick wrote and illustrated all of the comics himself, until 1972 when he hired another artist, Fred Carter, to illustrate many of them. The tracts attracted a large following though Christian bookstores were reluctant to stock them, due to their controversial nature.

For more biographical information about Jack Chick, see his website: https://www.chick.com/information/authors/chick.asp.
Title
Guide to the Chick Tract Collection
Author
Martha Lund Smalley and Margaret Mary Stapleton Smith
Date
2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

Contact:
409 Prospect Street
New Haven CT 06511 US
(203) 432-5301

Opening Hours