Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
 

Robert Hamill Nassau papers, 1856 -- 1976

Summary Information

Abstract

Robert Hamill Nassau was a Presbyterian missionary who served throughout West Africa, including Benita; Belambla; Kangwe; Talaguga; Baraka (Libreville); and Batanga. The collection contains letters sent to and received by Nassau from friends and family, and a selection of personal and biographical information.

At a Glance

Bib ID 4492530 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Nassau, Robert Hamill, 1835-1921
Title Robert Hamill Nassau papers, 1856 -- 1976
Physical Description 1.5 linear feet (1.5 linear feet; 3 boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access

This series is open for research.

Onsite storage.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is organized in two series: Series 1: Correspondence; and Series 2: Personal and biographical materials.

Description

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters sent to and received by Robert Hamill Nassau, and letters received by his second wife Mary Brunette Foster (died 1884), discussing in detail the life and work of a medical missionary in Africa and illustrating the relationship between Nassau and his family, and his colleagues and members of the Mission Board. This collection also includes personal items collected by Nassau, including summaries of work and programs from Presbyterian churches that he attended, as well as biographical information written about Nassau posthumously.

  • Correspondence, 1856 -- 1906

    This series contains letters sent to and received by Robert Hamill Nassau, and letters received by his second wife Mary Brunette Foster (died 1884). The majority of the letters were written by his family, including his parents, Reverend Charles William Nassau and Hannah Hamill Nassau; and an older sister, Isabella Ann Nassau (also a missionary in Africa). Additional letters are from other sisters, Matilda Nassau Lowrie and Emma Nassau Swan; colleagues, and pastors. The letters are inscribed with locations and dates, and many include the original envelopes. The letters discuss in detail the life and work of a medical missionary in Africa, and illustrate the relationship between Nassau and his family, and his colleagues and members of the Mission Board.

  • Personal and biographical materials, 1890 -- 1976

    This series contains personal items collected by Nassau, including summaries of work and programs from Presbyterian churches that he attended, as well as biographical information written about Nassau posthumously.

Burke Library record group:

Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL1, Africa

Using the Collection

Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Conditions Governing Access

This series is open for research.

Onsite storage.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.

Preferred Citation

Item description, MRL1: Robert Hamill Nassau Papers, 1856-1976, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Related Materials

The Robert Hamill Nassau Manuscript Collection, SCM 100. Princeton Theological Seminary. Library. Special Collections.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Formerly part of the independent Missionary Research Library (MRL), these records were accessioned by the Burke Library at the time of the MRL's closure in 1976.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Processing Information

Some material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-18. This collection was originally processed in winter 1977 by Paul A. Byrnes. It was updated in 2011, when mtal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened, materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes, acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed, and the finding aid was created by Brigette C. Kamsler in 2011 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation. The finding aid was edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.

Revision Description

2022-01-14 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Missionaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Missions -- Africa Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Missions -- Gabon Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. -- : Missions Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Robert Hamill Nassau was born in 1835 at Montgomery Square, Pennsylvania. He attended the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, after which he was awarded a bachelor's degree from the College of New Jersey (later to become Princeton University.) After two years of teaching at Lawrenceville, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary from 1856-1859, obtained an MA from the College of New Jersey, and the degree of MD from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1861. Upon graduation, Nassau was ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick and became a missionary for the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. His first appointment as a medical missionary was on Corisco Island, off the coast of West Africa. Nassau served throughout West Africa, including Benita; Belambla; Kangwe; Talaguga; Baraka (Libreville); and Batanga. Nassau also founded a mission station in Kangwe, later known as Lambaréné. His final missionary placement was in Batanga until 1906, after which he returned to the USA, and took a stated supply position in Florida. Nassau was married twice: First to Mary Cloyd Latta on Corisco in 1862 (died 1870), also a missionary and mother of three sons: William Latta, George Paull and Charles Francis; and to Mary Brunette Foster (died 1884), mother of daughter Mary Brunette Foster. Daughter Mary was the first white child born in Equatorial Africa. Nassau was a prolific writer and wrote many books, including Fetichism in West Africa (1904). He also learned African dialects and translated materials. He continued writing until his death in Ambler, Pennsylvania in 1921.

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Correspondence, 1856 -- 1906

This series is open for research.

1.25 linear feet; 2.75 linear feet; 3 boxes

This series contains letters sent to and received by Robert Hamill Nassau, and letters received by his second wife Mary Brunette Foster (died 1884). The majority of the letters were written by his family, including his parents, Reverend Charles William Nassau and Hannah Hamill Nassau; and an older sister, Isabella Ann Nassau (also a missionary in Africa). Additional letters are from other sisters, Matilda Nassau Lowrie and Emma Nassau Swan; colleagues, and pastors. The letters are inscribed with locations and dates, and many include the original envelopes. The letters discuss in detail the life and work of a medical missionary in Africa, and illustrate the relationship between Nassau and his family, and his colleagues and members of the Mission Board.

This series is arranged chronologically by correspondents.



Box 1 Letters sent by Nassau to his sisters and parents: items 1-256 , 1868 -- 1898



Box 2 Letters sent by Nassau to his sisters and parents: items 257-381, 1898 -- 1906



Box 3 Folder 1-9 Letters received by Nassau or his wife Mary Brunette Foster Nassau from family and friends: items 382-536, 1874 -- 1906


Box 3 Folder 10 General letters, 1856 -- 1902

Personal and biographical materials, 1890 -- 1976

This series is open for research.

0.25 linear feet; 0.25 linear feet; 1 box

This series contains personal items collected by Nassau, including summaries of work and programs from Presbyterian churches that he attended, as well as biographical information written about Nassau posthumously.

This series is arranged chronologically.


Box 3 Folder 11 Report of Committee on Outfit and Outfit List for the Interior, Gaboon and Corisco Missions, 1890


Box 3 Folder 12 Session Work Summaries, Batanga and Kribi Church, 1902


Box 3 Folder 13 Corisco Presbytery Narrative, 1903


Box 3 Folder 14 Presbyterian Church Programs, 1904


Box 3 Folder 15 Secondary Biographical Information, 1963 -- 1976