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Deborah Rees African Papers

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Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Emory J. and Deborah Gorman Rees were Quaker missionaries in South Africa 1899-1903 and participated in Friends African Industrial Mission (FAIM) in British East Africa (now Kenya) from 1903 to 1926.

Emory's great grandparents, William and Susanna Rees, were received on certificate with their children in 1830 by Vermillion Monthly Meeting (IL) from New Hope Monthly Meeting (TN). Their son, John Rees, married Susannah Dillon in 1833. Isaac, Emory’s father, was born in 1840 and married Arminta Mills, daughter of William and Hannah Mills. Isaac and Arminta had five children: Emory J. (born Feb. 13, 1870), Alpheus, Olive, Milo, and Anna. Emory studied at Urbana High School and worked as a teacher. He subsequently studied at the Cleveland Bible Training School and briefly served as a minister in Maine. He was recorded as a minister of Vermillion MM and soon joined by Deborah Gorman (born Feb. 26, 1876) of Urbana, Illinois, who also was raised in a devout Christian environment. She and Emory were married in December 1898, and Deborah was received into membership in 1899.

On March 25, 1899, Emory and Deborah Rees sailed for Johannesburg, South Africa, from Philadelphia, Pa., as independent missionaries. They sailed with Oscar Roberts, another missionary bound for South Africa. The Vermillion Quarterly Meeting contributed to the Rees’s mission, and Deborah and Emory remained in South Africa until May, 1903. For greater stability in their mission, they joined the newly founded Friends African Industrial Mission (FAIM) in British East Africa (now Kenya).

The founding of FAIM was promoted by Edgar T. Hole and William Hotchkiss, who had traveled Africa to find a good location for an industrial mission. They settled on a site near Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria and connected to Mombasa by a railroad line. The mission was officially founded in 1902. Emory and Deborah were accepted as FAIM missionaries in 1903 and arrived at Kaimosi on June 11, 1904.

After working at Kaimosi for a few years, Emory and Deborah Rees moved to the Maragoli Outstation, 12 miles west of Kaimosi, on February 2, 1906. During this, their second period in Africa, both Deborah and Emory worked on translating and creating a written form of Kavirondo, the native language. In 1908, Emory successfully created the first reader in the Kavirondo language. They stayed at Maragoli until 1909 when the couple returned to the United States because of Deborah's illness. Three children born to the couple before 1906 died in infancy.

Deborah and Emory remained in the U.S. until the end of 1911. On April 15, 1910, their daughter, Dorothy Rees, was born. Deborah spent most of her time with her mother, Sarah M. Gorman, while Emory spoke at Vermillion and traveled. They returned to Africa on November 27, 1911. A son, Emory Keith Rees, was born, and Emory succeeded in creating a written version of Kavirondo. Deborah taught both academic and sewing classes. The family remained at Maragoli until they left Africa in 1926. Shortly before his death in 1947, Emory Rees completed a collaboration to translate the Old Testament into the language of the Margoli people. Deborah Rees died in 1967.

The collection contains primarily Deborah Rees's correspondence with her mother and sister, Sarah and Zoa Gorman. The letters begin in 1899 and continue through 1925, with breaks when Reeses were in the United States. Also included are stories, letters from Emory to his family, and miscellaneous notes, journal entries and newspaper clippings. Also included are notes and some papers of Rose Adede, who wrote a dissertation on the effect of the Quaker missionaries in Kenya and compiled the papers.

Organized in three series: 1. Correspondence; 2. Miscellaneous; 3. Adede Papers

Gift of Peggy Morscheck, 2003.

The papers were compiled by Rose Adede, who wrote a dissertation on the effect of the Quaker missionaries in Kenya. They were included in material given to Peggy Morscheck in the 1980s.

See Deborah Rees African photographs, SFHL-PA-112.

Publisher
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-RUU/1.0/.

Collection Inventory

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1899.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1900.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1901.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, January - July 1902.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, July - December 1902.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1903.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1904.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1905.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, January-August 1906.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, Sept. - December 1906.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1907.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1908.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1912.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1913.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1915.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1916.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1917-1918.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1920-21.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1922.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1923.
Box 2
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence to Family, 1925.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Notes, 1899-1909.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Stories, 1899-1927.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Letters, 1900-1922.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Miscellaneous, 1900-1941.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Newspaper Clippings, 1907-1956.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Notes on letters, n.d.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Handwritten Copies, n.d.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Paper, n.d.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence, 1979-1985.
Box 3
Physical Description

1 folder

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