|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in two series: Series 1: Correspondence; and Series 2: Personal and biographical materials.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
2022-01-14 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
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.