R. Jean Black Papers

Manuscript Collection #736
Black, R. Jean
Physical description
0.044 Cubic Feet, 38 items , consisting of correspondence.
Preferred Citation
R. Jean Black Papers (#736), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1947-1960) including correspondence, references concern Bible, auditing of books, school events, receipts, pilgrims, and miscellaneous.

Biographical/historical information

R. Jean Black was a Presbyterian missionary to Pakistan between 1947 and 1960. During her time in Pakistan, she corresponded frequently with her family in Petrolia, Pennsylvania. Her letters were primarily written from the American mission girls' school in Pasrur, West Punjab, Pakistan. In addition, letters were sent from various towns and villages in Pakistan as she travelled, including Murree Hills, W. Pakistan; Taxila, W. Pakistan; Barab Patthar, Sialkot; Moukshpuri Hotel, Dunga Gali; Camp Saukinwind; Srinagar; and Pahlgam, Kashmir.

Scope and arrangement

Her correspondence contains descriptions of various trips taken for missionary meetings, supply acquisition, and personal visits. Trips were taken to Gujranwala, Nathiagali, Parachiniar, Sanglo, Lahore, Kalaswala, Zafarwal, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Gurdaspur, Kokarnag, Achabal (where she comments on buildings that still exist dating to the Moghul conquest of India in 1526), Amritsar, Sonamarg, Kalaswala, Pathankot, and New York.

The main focus of Ms. Black's letters deals with daily events and occurrences at the mission. She comments on the arrival and departure of teachers, doctors and nurses, lepers, and new missionaries, as well as celebrations for birthdays, Christmas, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving. Other references concern Bible school sessions; visits from a former matron and a minister from Pittsburgh; formal meetings pertaining to the auditing of books, refresher courses, workers, committee work, conferences, and district executive committees; a Presbyterian conference on revival and evangelism; and synod meetings and retreats. She also reports on school events, such as exams (school and physical); promotions of children and teachers; school openings, closings, and vacations; and cheating during exams. Miscellaneous topics include the receipt ofcontributions and their distribution, the making of clothing and bedding for local people (because of high prices), the building of a canal for fresh water, the arrival of electricity and water lines, and municipal committee office elections.

In addition to the day-to-day activities of the mission, Ms. Black comments on problems that arise from time to time at the mission and the village. Some problems include refugees arriving in Punjab who are unsettled and destitute of clothing; the impossibility of getting clothing and beds for all the 114 boarders; the need of repairs in the church and personal quarters; and trouble with the engines that provide the power to the school. Medical problems discussed include a smallpox epidemic, malaria, the hospitalization of a missionary with a nervous breakdown, and the frequency of colds and flu, jaundice, dysentery, tuberculosis, fevers, and "itch." Other topics of concern include the theft of clothing by a worker, the lack of gas for buses, failure to receive allocated funds, trouble receiving hospital equipment and other packages due to import licensing and customs, lack of laborers due to the farming season, a problem between pastors over a congregation, and the adoption of a child from England by a missionary couple.

Correspondence also contains comments on country-wide and international affairs. Discussed is the Korean War (August 1950); the Kashmir problem (August 1950), which resulted in an influx of Kashmir refugees to the village; the British and French entrance into Egypt (November 1956); Russia in Hungary (November 1956); Eisenhower's dealings with the Little Rock affair (November 1957); and the resignation of Prime Minister Shuhrwady of Pakistan and his leadership of the Awani League Party in opposition to the governor of the area (November 1957). Communications also deal with events in the United States and especially in Petrolia, Pennsylvania. These include a refinery fire in Petrolia (August 1950), deaths of family members and friends, floods in Topeka, Kansas (September 1951), a tornado in Petrolia (March 1955), the New Wilmington Conference (August 1958), receipt of money for the mission, and general inquiries about family and friends.

Through her letters, annual weather patterns can be observed as well as some of the problems they can cause: hardship for refugees during abnormal cold spells, annual temperature changes, rain patterns and their impact on agriculture and river level during drought and floods, and sand fly and mosquito problems caused by high temperatures and dust storms with a resulting malaria increase.

Some miscellaneous occurrences mentioned in her writings include refugee work, Ramzan month (fasting for the Mohd), the clash of Pakistan tradition and western culture, celebration of the 100th year anniversary of Dr. Andrew Gordon's arrival in Sialkot (August 1955), a visit (February & August 1959) from missionaries from New Zealand (one of which is traveling on the SS ZEALAND), Hindu pilgrims visiting the Amarnathcave (August 1959), visits from monkeys and elephants, and final preparations for her departure from the mission (March 1960).

Administrative information
Custodial History

October 21, 1996, 38 items; Correspondence (1947-1960) of Presbyterian missionary to Pakistan. Gift courtesy of Elizabeth Price Crockford Missionary and Church History Endowment.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Elizabeth Price Crockford Missionary and Church History Endowment

Processing information

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.