Willmar Thorkelson

Biographical Sketch

Willmar Thorkelson was born in 1918 in Trail, Minnesota.  He earned his bachelor’s degree at Concordia College in Moorhead (1940) and his master’s at the University of Minnesota.  He married Maxine in 1945; they had two children.  He worked at newspapers in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, before coming to the Minneapolis Star in 1944 as a reporter of religious news; he remained at that paper until its merger with the Minneapolis Tribune in 1982.  He was present at all eight assemblies of the World Council of Churches between 1948 and 1998, and he covered all three sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1963-65).  From 1982, he was a regular contributor to Metro Lutheran and a contributing editor for The Lutheran, the magazine of the ELCA.  He received the Wittenberg Award from the Luther Institute of Washington, DC (1998); in 2001, he became the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Religion Newswriters Association.  He died November 29, 2002.

Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of Willmar Thorkelson’s journalistic coverage of the Second Vatican Council and the first eight Assemblies of the World Council of Churches (WCC).  Includes newspaper articles, periodical reports, and press reports.  Materials cover all three sessions of Vatican II, plus decrees, papal speeches, and materials on Pope Paul VI’s 1965 visit to the U.N.  WCC materials include articles from all eight assemblies (1948-1998) plus correspondence.  Also contains articles on events other than Vatican II and WCC.

Folder List

Second Vatican Council

  1. Vatican Council 1961
  2. Vatican Council 1962 – Articles and Newspaper articles
  3. Vatican Council 1963 Articles, #1
  4. Vatican Council 1963 Articles, #2
  5. Vatican Council 1963 Newspaper Articles
  6. Vatican Council 1964 Articles
  7. Vatican Council 1964 Newspaper Articles
  8. Vatican Council 1965 Newspaper and print articles
  9. Vatican Council Post Council Reviews
  10. Vatican Council Finished Decrees and speeches by Pope
  11. Vatican Council  Official Council Observers
  12. Vatican Council – Secrecy – case of Xavier Rhynne
  13. Vatican Council and Eastern Orthodoxy
  14. Vatican Council and Marriage
  15. Vatican Council and Religious Liberty
  16. Vatican Council and Liturgical Changes
  17. Life Magazine Article on end of the council 12-17-65
  18. Pope at the U.N. 10-4-65
  19. World Council of Churches  1961
  20. Misc. Articles…WCC and U.S. Religious Scene
  21. 1956 Management Audit of Roman Catholic Church
  22. Newspaper Articles on Spain
  23. The American Church in Paris


World Council of Churches

  1. FIRST ASSEMBLY - Amsterdam The Netherlands – 1948 
  2. SECOND  ASSEMBLY - Evanston, IL, U.S.A. – 1954  Newspaper articles
  3. SECOND ASSEMBLY – Evanston – Misc. articles  
  4. SECOND ASSEMBLY -  Evanston  Misc. Articles
  5. SECOND ASSEMBLY - Evanston–  Misc. Articles
  6. THIRD ASSEMBLY -   New Delhi, India – 1961  Newspaper articles
  7. THIRD ASSEMBLY – New Delhi Misc. Articles
  8. WCC correspondence – 1964
  9. FOURTH  ASSEMBLY -  Uppsala, Sweden, 1968  Misc. Articles     
  10. FOURTH ASSEMBLY   Uppsala  Misc. Articles
  11. FIFTH ASSEMBLY   Nairobi, Kenya 1975   Misc. Articles
  12. SIXTH ASSEMBLY  Vancouver, Canada 1983   Misc. Articles
  13. SEVENTH ASSEMBLY   Canberra, Australia 1991   Misc. Articles     
  14. EIGHTH ASSEMBLY  Harare, Zimbabwe, 1998   Misc. Articles