Deborah Rees African Papers, 1899-1985

(3 boxes )

RG5/239


©Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College 

Seal of Swarthmore College
Table of contents
Abstract
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. The collection contains primarily the correspondence of Deborah with her mother and sister, Sarah and Zoa Gorman. The letters begin in 1899 and continue through 1925, with breaks when the Reeses returned to the United States. Also included are stories, letters from Emory to his family, and miscellaneous notes, journal entries and newspaper clippings. The papers were assembled by Rose Adede who wrote a thesis on the effect of the Quaker missionaries in Kenya. Adede’s notes and paper are also included in the collection.

Background note:
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.

Scope and content
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.

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


Administrative and Other Descriptive Information

Restrictions
Collection is open for research.

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Acquisition Information
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.

Separated material
Photographs from Deborah Rees.

Bibliography
The American Friend. Philadelphia: American Friend Publishing Company. 1899 – 1925.

Elizabeth H. Emerson, Emory J. Rees Language Pioneer. American Friends Board of Missions, 1958.


Added entries

Subjects
  • Quaker - Missions
  • Quaker Missionaries
  • Quaker Women -- Correspondence
  • Quakers -- Africa -- History
  • Society of Friends – Africa, East -- History
  • Society of Friends – Missions
  • Society of Friends – Missions -- Kenya

    Additional Authors and Contributors
  • Adede, Rose
  • Rees, Deborah, 1876-1967
  • Rees, Emory J., 1870-1947.

    Contact information

    Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

     


    Collection inventory

    Note to Researchers: These records may only be consulted at Swarthmore, and are not available through inter-Library loan.


    Series 1: Correspondence, 1899-1925

    Correspondence to Family
    1899
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1900
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1901
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    January - July 1902
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    July - December 1902
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1903
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1904
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1905
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    January-August 1906
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    Sept. - December 1906
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1907
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1908
    (1 folder)
    Box 1

    Correspondence to Family
    1912
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1913
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1915
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1916
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1917-1918
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1920-21
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1922
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1923
    (1 folder)
    Box 2

    Correspondence to Family
    1925
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Series 2: Miscellaneous, 1899-1956

    Notes
    1899-1909
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Stories
    1899-1927
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Letters
    1900-1922
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Miscellaneous
    1900-1941
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Newspaper Clippings
    1907-1956
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Series 3: Adede Reaserch, 1979-85, n.d.

    Notes on letters
    n.d.
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Handwritten Copies
    n.d.
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Paper
    n.d.
    (1 folder)
    Box 3

    Correspondence
    1979-1985
    (1 folder)
    Box 3