This page is divided into two sections, both listed in chronological order.
Bible Series for Children on American Television
Bible Series for a General Audience on American Television
Bible Series For Children on American TelevisionDate Unknown
1930 - 1949Story From The Book (c. 1948 WCAU, Philadelphia; 1950 - 1951 WPIX, New York).
Bible stories told with cutouts by a woman named Jean Seeley. Series moved from Philadelphia to New York after a year. Jean Seeley's series was praised in the International Journal of Religious Education and slightly criticized by New York Times television critic Jack Gould. See my BLOG article for more.
Children's Bible Hour (television version, 1949 - c.1950s).
More information coming. Several episodes were posted on YouTube as part of Keys For Kids Summer of Retro, in 2015. This series may have also been called A Visit With Aunt Bea at times.
View more vintage episodes of the Children's Bible Hour with Aunt Bea at the Keys For Kids YouTube Channel.
Youth on the March (1949 - 1953, ABC, DuMont).
Television ministry of Rev. Percy Crawford. Began as Young People's Church of the Air on radio in 1931.
Watch the October 4, 1949 episode from the Wheaton College Archives.
For more about the life and ministry of Percy Crawford:
"As This Is Our First Broadcast....Percy and Ruth Crawford and The Birth of Televangelism"
1950 - 1959
Bible Puppets (Puppet Bible Stories) (c. 1950, syn. c. 1950 - mid 1960s)
A series of at least 11 Bible stories enacted by the Mabel Beaton Puppeteers. Commissioned by the Protestant Radio Commission as early as 1949. The films were syndicated as late as 1964. One film "Story of the Prodigal Son" unearthed and posted online by A/V Geeks around 2010. Another print of the same short exists at Wheaton College. See this blog post for more.
Bible Stories (Bible Story) (1950 - ?, WENR, Chicago).
Half-hour Sunday noontime series hosted by Kay Morrow. Possibly renamed or reformatted the next year as "Stories in the Sand" which was also hosted by Morrow. In this series Morrow narrated Bible stories while using figurines and "miniature sand stage" while the children gathered around. Musical accompaniment was provided by a 10-voice children's choir. Summary from Broadcasting, Jan. 23, 1950 pg. 75
Bible Stories (1950 - ???, WFMY, Greensboro NC)
"Aunt Fanny" Sellars delighted young viewers in this Sunday evening series in which she used felt cutout to visualize her stories.
Guess or Know (c. 1951 WCAU, Philadelphia).
Bible quiz show with young contestants, developed by the Philadelphia Council of Churches. Also praised by the International Journal of Religious Education.
Stories In The Sand (1951, WENR, Chicago).
A Sunday afternoon series hosted by Kay Morrow. It was briefly mentioned in the Chicago Tribune by critic Larry Walters. Likely the same as her "Bible Story" series which aired the previous year at the same time. Not to be confused with "Stories in the Sand" a modern Arabic Christian children's series on SAT7 Kids.
Bible Tales Retold (c. 1952 - ? WFIL Philadelphia).
A Saturday Afternoon series hosted by the Rev. Stanley Kiehl Gambell (1914 - 1966) of Philadelphia. The exact contents of this program are unknown. Rev. Gambell was also a pioneer in public broadcasting in the New York area.
TV Sunday School (1952, WFIL Philadelphia)
Sunday morning series with unknown contents, but simple titles like "Jairus", "Naaman, The Leper" and "The First Disciple".
Out of the Past (syn. 1954).
Some articles in entertainment periodicals mention this as a 26 - episode series of Bible stories that were put on the market. Where and if they ever aired is a mystery.
Children's Bible Fellowship Program (c. mid-1950s)
More research is needed, but at some point the CBF ministries, currently still located in New York after 73 years of ministry, had a locally broadcast television program by their founder the Rev. Winfield "Uncle Win" Ruelke that may have started in 1953.
|Bible Picture Stories (cover) by Lois J. Fisher. (1955) published by Children's Press, Chicago.|
Scripture Sketches (1954 - 1955, KRON, San Francisco).
Sunday morning series hosted by cartoonist and author Lois J. Fisher, who also published a children's book (above) based on this series.
Old Testament Tales (1957, January 3 - 1957, March 28 CBC)
Canadian children's series with Bible tales written by Clare Slater that were hosted/enacted by puppeteers John and Linda Keogh, with John Botterel. The series was also view-able in many northeastern American states like Maine, New York, Vermont and Michigan
Article about "Old Testament Tales" by John and Linda Keogh, a CBC program [textual records]
Canadian Museum of History
1960 - 1969
Famous series (the one I am asked about the most) created by Art & Ruth Clokey and Dick Sutcliffe and produced by the Lutheran Church of America. Still seen on some Christian family networks, and online.
Bible Story Game (c. 1961 - ?, NBC)
Sunday morning game show created and hosted by Buddy Piper and his wife Beverly. May have aired as late as 1973.
Jot (c. 1968).
Animated cartoon with memorable surrealist style animation that premiered over station WFAA in Texas. They were written by Ruth Byers for the Radio and Television Commission of The Southern Baptist Convention.
Tales From The Great Book (1966 - ?)
Animated half hour series based on John Lehti's classic comic strip of the same name.
Great Bible Stories (1967).
Reportedly a series of 65 four and a half cartoons underwritten by the American Lutheran Church. These cartoons were offered to TV - stations for free. Some episodes were released on VHS.
1970 - 1979 (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
1980-1989 (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
1990 - 1999
Bible Series For A General Audience on American Television
1930 - 1949
1950 - 1959Circuit Rider (March 5, 1951 - May 7, 1951. ABC-TV, Sundays 11:00pm EST)
Very little is known about this early TV series which dramatized the lives of the evangelical clergymen who ventured all over the nation following the Revolutionary War. It was produced by the Methodist ministry America For Christ, Inc. and was developed for 52 episodes to run on ABC's late Sunday night schedule. Each episode was narrated by Rex Marshall and Rev. George Pigueron served as moderator. Episodes would also feature a guest speaker who would address a current topic.
Greatest Story Ever Told, The [TV Version] (1951 - 1952, ABC)
While several people have seen the 1965 film version of Fulton Oursler's novel, or may have heard the ABC radio drama, very few may know of this periodical TV version that aired over the course of one season. Known broadcasts included "The Widow's Mite", "No Room in the Inn" and "The Soldier's Servant"
Thrilling Bible Dramas (c. 1952 - c. 1955, syn)
This seems to be the syndication package title for the "Life of Christ" and "Life of St. Paul" films series by Cathedral Films (the ministry of the Rev. James K. Friedrich). Seen in several markets which included: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City, MI, and Norfolk, Virginia.
Raymond Massey Reads The Bible (produced 1951. syn. c. 1954 - ?)
Brief segments of Bible reading and teaching by actor Raymond Massey.
Know Your Bible (late 1950s - early 1970s, WSIX, Nashville, Tenn)
A popular Bible game show that reportedly aired for at least 17 years with Dr. Ira North of the local Madison Church of Christ as the host. Sponsored locally by Purity Dairies.
Image of the sponsor from pg. 108 of Nashville Broadcasting by Lee Dorman.
Full page ad for local award presented to "Know Your Bible" - Broadcasting, May 28, 1962