Beulah H. Reitz Papers

Manuscript Collection #217
Reitz, Beulah, 1893-
Physical description
0.495 Cubic Feet, 259 items
Preferred Citation
Beulah H. Reitz Papers (#217), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1922-1936) consisting of correspondence, conference reports, clippings, pamphlets, information of climate season, Christians celebrations and magazine articles.

Biographical/historical information

Beulah H. Reitz was born in Kansas in 1893. She was educated at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. From 1922 to 1955, Miss Reitz served as a missionary to Rhodesia under the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Scope and arrangement

The correspondence consists of letters from Beulah H. Reitz in Rhodesia, Africa, to family and friends in Kansas. There are also a few letters written by other missionaries and by native students.

The majority of the letters falls between the years 1922 to 1925 with fewer letters from 1927 to 1936. More specifically, the letters are written from Old Umtali (1922), Mutambara (1922-1926), Nyadiri (1929-1931), and the Native Girls' Hostel at Umtali (1931-1936). Also included in are undated and incomplete letters, some of which are carbon copies of the dated letters.

Miss Reitz's correspondence while en route to and from Africa (1922, 1925) includes a good description of travel on ships and activities and games on board. Reference is made to other relgious peoples and travelers.

Of interest are the descriptions of such African towns as Cape Town (1925) and Johannesburg (1922). A great deal of history and physical description is given on the missions in Rhodesia where Miss Reitz served: Old Umtali (1922), Mutambara (1922-1926), Nyadiri (1929-1931), and the Native Girls' Hostel at Umtali (1931-1936).

Detailed information is given on the climate and seasons of this area. There are descriptions of the waterfalls, mountains, flowers, fruits, and wheat crops. In addition, physical descriptions are included for buildings- how they are made and the materials used. Native life in the "wilds" or kraals and villages is revealed by her accounts of her trips into these areas.

The work with the native students at the missions is enumerated. It includes teaching, ministering, training, as well as improvement of their health and physical surroundings. Subjects taught, levels of education, work of the students, clothing problems, and methods of "play" are dealt with in the letters. Also given are descriptions of the work at outstations by the native or pastor-teachers. A pamphlet on "Hartzell Training School," Old Umtali, Rhodesia explains the reason and methods of training native teachers. Also, a history of the school is given.

A subject dealt with throughout all of the letters is the customs and superstition of the natives as opposed to the Christian practices. The customs and superstitions cover such areas as weddings, marriage, widows, children, birth, death and burial, sickness, demons and gods, witchdoctors, and huntings. In contrast to this, descriptions of Christian celebrations such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are given in detail.

Of interest also are the methods for the acquisition and preparation by the natives of food and clothing. Missionaries appeal for scholarships for food, while the girls plant gardens to earn money for clothing.

Insight is shed on the medical work being down in the kraals and at the dispensary. Medical practices and cures are given in detail. The lack of doctors and medicine is documented as in the presence of the more common diseases such as malaria and chicken pox. There is a great deal of discussion on a quarantine from an epidemic of East Coast Fever which infects the cattle (May 1926).

The work being done by the Parent Board in conjunction with the Methodists is discussed in detail (Nov. 1923, Jan. 1926). Reference is made to the work of the Church of England and the Seventh Day Adventists. In addition, the influence of the native commissioners is noted. Several references are included on the work and progress in the Portuguese territory.

Noted also is the various publications of the missions and the Committee on Publications. The history of Umbowo hwe Ukristu (The Christian Witness) is one of interest in the letters (July 1929, and undated "There Shall Be Light").

Other entries provide significant information on such topics as Camp meetings (1931), cruelties to the blacks, conference work, and quarterly reports (Aug. 1924, Oct. 1924, 1925).

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 15, 1972, 275 items; Correspondence, (1922-1936). Gift of Miss Beulah H. Reitz, Asheville, North Carolina.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Miss Beulah H. Reitz

Processing information

Processed by M. Bouldin, November 1974

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Reitz, Beulah, 1893-
Corporate Names
Methodist Episcopal Church--Missions--Zimbabwe
Methodist Episcopal Church. Woman's Foreign Missionary Society
Missions--Educational work--Zimbabwe
Traditional medicine--Zimbabwe
Africa--Description and travel
Zimbabwe--Social life and customs

Container list
Box 1 Correspondence (1922-1924)
Box 2 Correspondence (1925-1936), Conference Reports, Clippings