“EUREKA!” That one word means “I have found it!” During the 19th-century gold rush in California, U.S.A., this shout could be heard when a miner struck gold. Charles Taze Russell and fellow Bible Students, however, had found something far more valuable
By the summer of 1914, millions in large cities had flocked to the “Photo-Drama of Creation,” an eight-hour epic produced by the International Bible Students Association (I.B.S.A.). With its stunning motion pictures, vivid color slides, fascinating narration, and fine classical music, this Bible-based presentation took viewers from creation through human history to the end of Jesus Christ’s Thousand Year Reign.
But what of those who lived in small towns and rural areas? So that no truth-hungry ones would miss out, in August 1914 the I.B.S.A. released the “Eureka Drama”
Without the need for a film projector or a large screen, Bible Students could take this free presentation to the countryside, reaching new territories with the Kingdom message. The sound-only “Eureka X” set could be played day or night. The “Eureka Y” slide projector could be run without electricity by using a carbide lamp. “We can show these pictures in almost any place,” said a report in the Finnish Watch Tower. How true that was!
Instead of renting large theaters, resourceful Bible Students often found free facilities, such as schoolrooms, courthouses, railroad stations, and even the parlors of large homes. Many a showing took place outdoors, with a “screen” made from a large white sheet hung on the side of a barn. Anthony Hambuch wrote: “Farmers set up a small stadium in their orchards, made up of numerous logs where the people could sit down and enjoy the program.” This “Eureka” team used a “Drama wagon” for their equipment, baggage, and camping and cooking gear.
“Eureka” audiences ranged from a handful to hundreds. In the United States, 400 attended a schoolhouse showing in a town of 150. Elsewhere, some walked five miles (8 km) each way to see the “Eureka Drama.” In Sweden, Charlotte Ahlberg’s neighbors who gathered at her little house “felt truly touched” at hearing the recordings. Some 1,500 came to one showing in a remote mining city in Australia. The Watch Tower reported that at high schools and colleges, “professors and students are charmed with the pictures and with our wonderful phonograph records.” The “Eureka Drama” was popular even in places with movie houses.
CULTIVATING SEEDS OF TRUTH
The “Eureka Drama” became a useful tool in “Class Extension Work,” in which Bible Student classes sent out speakers to start new study classes. How many saw the “Eureka Drama” is hard to determine. Many “Drama” sets saw constant use. Yet, in 1915 only 14 of 86 “Drama” teams reported regularly. Lamenting the incomplete figures, the year-end summary nevertheless stated that over one million had seen the “Drama.” Some 30,000 individuals had requested Bible literature.
The “Eureka Drama” may have left behind a faint footprint in history, but from Australia to Argentina, from South Africa to the British Isles, India, and the Caribbean, millions apparently saw this unique presentation. Many among them found Bible truth