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Charles E. and Viola L. Smith papers

Identifier: Ax 437

Scope and Contents note

The papers are arranged in six groups: personal papers, administrative papers, records of the Conseil Protestant du Congo, historical files, periodicals and books. The personal papers include diaries, especially for the early years of the Smiths’ mission work, and the location of mission stations. There is personal correspondence with executives of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. The major personal letter file is correspondence with the Reverend Ben Armstrong and his wife, Rhoda, 1926-1962, mainly from Leopoldville and Kikongo. This series describes in great detail the personal and professional problems of a missionary. A series of mimeographed missionary letters, most of them 1958-1967, describes the problems of missions during political upheavals in the Congo.

The administrative papers include Congo Mission reports, minutes, official correspondence, and documents. The administrative file on the Kikongo Mission is particularly complete, as is the correspondence concerning proposed agricultural programs and rural missionary work. The historical file, assembled by Viola L. Smith, represents material gathered for the writing of her mission history.

Books in the collection consist of monographs and pamphlets on Africa and missions, Kikongo dictionaries, grammars and phrase books, and books on Kikongo (Fioti) and other African languages. Major dictionaries are by W. Holman Bentley, Giacinto Brusciotto, Rene Butaye, Karl E. Laman, and Pierre Swartenbroeckx. Kikongo language books include editions of the Bible, The Pilgrim’s Progress, songbooks, and several books for children. There are also histories of missions and missionaries and of the Protestant church in Africa.


  • Creation: 1909-1973


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Charles Eugene Smith was born in Franklin County, Iowa, and educated at Iowa State College, Ames. He attended the Kennedy School of Missions, and was ordained in 1922. That year he and his wife went to Belgium, and in 1923 to the Congo as missionaries with the Congo Mission, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, out of Leopoldville. In addition to his evangelistic work, he introduced agricultural education among the Congolese, particularly at the Kikongo Mission station. He formulated principles and programs for rural missionary service, wrote an agricultural text for native use, and played a major part in the location and establishment of mission stations at Nsona Mpangu, Moanza, Kikongo, and Boko.

Mrs. Viola Leora (Ziegler) Smith was born in Syracuse, New York, and attended the Kennedy School of Missions. She earned a diploma from the School of Tropical Medicine, Brussels, and with her husband worked as a general missionary, with special attention to educational and medical work, and work with women and children. She wrote Diatunga va Tadi (n.p., 1966), a history of the Congo Baptist missions, for the Congolese.


9.75 linear feet (10 containers)

Language of Materials



Charles E. and Viola L. Smith were Christian missionaries in Africa. The collection includes correspondence, diaries and publications that reflect their work as missionaries.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series: DiariesSeries: CorrespondenceSeries: ManuscriptsSeries: Administrative PapersSeries: Historical DataSeries: Publications

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Charles and Viola Smith.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Phil Zorich, Manuscripts Processor.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Charles E. and Viola L. Smith Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Phil Zorich
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA