Papers (1966-1992, undated) of Carol Leigh Humphries, a Southern Baptist Conference missionary woman from Person County, North Carolina, including letters to family and friends in North Carolina documenting her career as a missionary in Jos, Kaduma and other locations in Nigeria, British West Africa; newspaper clippings related to Humphries' missionary work; also genealogical notes of Mrs. Emma H. Blalock.
Carol Leigh Humphries was born at the family home in Bethel Hill, Person County, North Carolina on 6 December 1923. Her mother had five children from a previous marriage, and five more children with Mr. Humphries. She grew up on the family farm and assisted in the farm work.
Ms. Humphries attended Bethel Hill School in Person County from first through eleventh grade. She was raised a Christian, with Christian teachers at school and church, and was active in Bethel Hill Baptist Church. She attended East Carolina Teachers College in Greenville, North Carolina to train to become a teacher and received her A.B. degree in elementary education in 1944. There, she became active in Christian organizations like the Young Women's Christian Association and the Baptist Student Union. After hearing a former missionary to China, Dr. Theron Rankin, speak at a conference, Humphries decided to make mission work her life's work.
In 1944, Humphries went to Wilmington, North Carolina to work as Temple Baptist Church's religious education director. After fourteen months, she went to Louisville, Kentucky to the Women's Missionary Union Training School, which later became Southern Seminary, and received a Master's in Religious Education. She applied to the Baptist Home Mission Board to serve as a missionary during the summer of 1946. She was sent to Dallas, Texas, where she did mission work in the city. She then became a fieldworker for North Dallas Baptist Church where she worked with the Women's Missionary Union organizations. Here, she also met a missionary from Nigeria, and felt called to work in Africa.
She went to Richmond, Virginia and appeared before the Foreign Mission Board to prepare to leave the United States. In 1952, at age twenty-nine, Humphries left for Nigeria, then still a colony in British West Africa. She was first appointed as a teacher at Elam Memorial Girls School in Shaki, Nigeria. She taught English reading, spelling, composition, Bible, home economics, and hygiene. She learned the Yoruba language of the local Nigerians and later learned the Hausa language.
Ms. Humphries became a fulltime worker with the Women's Missionary Union of Nigeria in 1953, and moved to Kaduna, Nigeria. In 1961, she moved to Jos, where she served as the Women's Missionary Union director for northern Nigeria. She was responsible for dispersing Christian literature to the Hausa people.
She attended many missionary conferences during her time in Nigeria and was the director of the Women's Missionary Union of Nigeria for much of her time there. She became well-known as a missionary attempting to spread Christianity and encourage conversion. She also went on several furloughs to the United States and spoke to various churches about her mission work. She was pleased with her efforts and the missionary efforts in Nigeria, and hoped that the efforts would continue to improve after her retirement.
In 1986, Humphries retired and returned to Person County, North Carolina. She continued to share stories of the time she spent in Africa, and was honored as the Emeritus Missionary by the Beulah Baptist Association in 1991. Carol Leigh Humphries died on 11 February 1992 of cancer at Person County Memorial Hospital in Roxboro, Person County, North Carolina.
This collection is arranged in original in two series: correspondence and printed materials.
SERIES I: CORRESPONDENCE contains letters from Mrs. Humphries during her mission work in Kaduna, Nigeria, West Africa written to her friends, Mrs. H.H. Welch and Mount Harmony Baptist Church in Rougemont, North Carolina, and Mr. Donald R. Lennon of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. All of the letters were written by Humphries, except for the last letter discussing her death. The letters illustrate her experiences in Nigeria. Humphries describes the environment in Nigeria, the activities of the Women's Missionary Union (W.M.U.) of Nigeria and their missionary and conversion efforts. She mentions various Nigerian individuals and tells stories of their conversion. Humphries also discusses her role in the W.M.U. as a member of the leadership board and serving as the director.
Humphries attended numerous missionary conferences and retreats, including the Northern Baptist Conference, W.M.U. Associational and Leadership Conference, General Workers' Conference, Nigerian Baptist Convention W.M.U. Executive Board Meeting, Annual Nigerian Baptist Convention meetings, the Baptist World Alliance Meeting, and many others. The letters mention interaction and missionary effort among the Igala, Basa, Hausa, and Yoruba tribes of Nigeria and mention Humphries' visits to various locations throughout West Africa, such as Sierra Leone, Kaduna, and Zaria. The last letter is from Aduke Akinola, the Executive Secretary of the Baptist Women's Missionary Union of Nigeria, written to T.A. Bowles of Roxboro, North Carolina. The letter expresses condolences about the death of Carol Leigh Humphries. All but one of the letters are typed, and the hand written one is legible. Prayer cards are also included in the correspondence series that were given to individuals to serve as a reminder to pray for Humphries, foreign mission work, and missionaries. Bible verses are printed on the cards. In this series, there is also a hand written genealogical outline tracing Carol Leigh Humphries' aunt, Emma S. Humphries, a missionary to China in 1894, her husband, Thomas Lee Blalock, and their children.
SERIES II: PRINTED MATERIALS, 1952-1992 contains newspaper articles, a banquet program, and an excerpt from a church newsletter. Some of the newspaper articles advertise Humphries' visits to churches in the United States sharing her missionary experiences with story and slide shows, during the 1960s and 1970s. One article recognized Humphries as Missionary of the Week, while another recognizes her as Emeritus Missionary of the Beulah Baptist Association. Other newspaper articles are obituaries written about Humphries that express sadness about her death and recognize her efforts as a missionary. The testimonial banquet program is from a banquet on January 17, 1952 in Humphries' honor as she would soon leave for her mission to Nigeria. The excerpt from the church program is from North Dallas Baptist Church recognizing Carol Leigh Humphries Day in 1967.
Gift of Miss Carol Leigh Humphries
Gift of Mrs. Katherine P. Bowles
Gift of Mrs. Nina Cook Welch
Encoded by Apex Data Services, March 2002;
Processing completed by Melissa Jones, March 22, 2012.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
Carol Leigh Humphries Oral History Collection (# OH0064), Special Collections Department, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.