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Collection 634 Papers of Theodore B. Wallin

Identifier: CN 634

Scope and Contents

Paper records relating to the missionary work of Theodore B. Wallin in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1927-1936 with the Evangelical Free Church of America. Documents include unpublished dictionaries, word lists, and manuscripts about the culture of the Ngbaka people of the Congo; translations of portions of the New Testament in Ngbaka, and autobiographical notes. Materials in the collection reflect the research Wallin did in preparation for Bible translation into the Ngbaka language.

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title, titles were supplied by donor and in some cases simplified by archivist

Date Range: 1932?-1979, undated

Volume: 1.2 cubic feet, 3 Boxes

Geographic Coverage: Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly the Belgian Congo)

Type of Documents: Dictionaries, word lists, unpublished manuscripts about Ngbaka culture, Bible translations into Ngbaka, photocopied photographs

Subjects: Ngbaka and Lingala languages, Bible translation, language study by missionaries, Ngbaka culture, and the Ubangi region in the Belgian Congo ca. 1930s

Notes: Wallin’s papers consist of resource materials he and his wife Ella wrote or collected form as the basis for understanding of the Ngbaka culture and for Bible translation into the Ngbaka language. Some of the material grew out of the Wallin’s own experiences and work, but a good portion of the data, perhaps most, was compiled from other published and oral sources of westerners and Nbgakans. Language materials predominate, with some manuscripts in Ngbaka, Lingala, French and English or French.

Some of these materials appears to have been compiled in the 1930s in the Congo, but most was gathered together and put in their final form by the Wallins in the mid to late 1960s in Bristol, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the compilation is not completely clear, but they were intended to be used in some way for the study of Ngbaka language and culture, probably in Bible translation. Most of the materials consist of word lists, giving equivalent English and Ngbaka or Lingala words or phrases for the same concept. These cane be found in folders 1-9 through 2-2; 2-8 through 3-5; and 3-7 to 3-10.

The vocabulary list in 3-8 is simply a xerox of one complied by G. Malcolm Guthrie in 1933.

Folders 1-1, 1-4 to 1-7, and 2-4 to 2-6 contain notes, photocopies of materials from reference works and lists describing various aspects of Ngbaka geography, environment and culture.

Folder 2-7 contains a New testament in Ngbaka published by the Catholic Church. It is unknown what contribution, if any, the Wallins made to this book.

Folder 2-3 contains a translation in Ngbaka of several books of the New Testament in which the Wallins participated in the 1930s.

Folder 1-2 contains a brief autobiographical sketch in which Wallin took his life up to the late 1930s.

There is also some information on the Wallins’ life as missionaries in the Congo in the 1930s in the collection of photocopies of caption photographs in folder 3-6. W

allin’s interest in birds is show by his 1970 study of birds in the Ubangi region in folder 1-4 (with information also on birds and mammals) and the manuscript about the birds of Sweden, where Wallin spent his childhood in folder 1-3.


  • Created: 1932-1979

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: Theodore B. Wallin

Birth: April 8, 1897

Death: November, 1987


Parents: Karl Jacob Wallin and Johanna Kristina (Thunberg) Wallin

Marital: Status Married Ella Charlotte Butler at Gemena in the Belgian Congo, May 17, 1933.

Children: Evelyn Astrid, Judith Kerstin


1921-1924 - Evangelical Free Church Bible School in combination with the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, USA

1924-1925 - Missionary Medical Course at National Bible Institute, New York, US

1925 - Summer course at Christian and Missionary Alliance School, Nyack / New York, USA

Oct 1926 - early spring 1927 - Language school at Alliance Francaise in Paris, France

Fall 1931 - Sep 1932 - French studies and medical courses in tropical diseases at Brussels, Belgium including research in the Colonial Library in Brussels

Fall 1932 - Six weeks laboratory training in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) in Belgium Congo

1937-1938 - Selective studies at Sorbonne (now University of Paris) without academic credits


summer 1926 - With a group of missionary candidates doing evangelistic work and schooling in England and Wales

early 1927 - Appointed as missionary of the Evangelical Free Church of America

Oct 1927 - September 1938 Missionary in the Ubangi region of the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo), stationed at the Karawa and the Kala mission stations. He was involved in preaching, church planting, medical work and Bible translation.

Fall 1932 - end of 1936 - “Agent Sanitaire” (Public Health Officer) in the Karawa region under the auspices of the Belgian Queen Elizabeth Association for the Care of the Native Population; stationed at Karawa Mission Station, Belgian Congo

1960s-1987 - Apparently was living in Bristol, Pennsylvania, USA

Other significant information:

Publications: Birds of Ubangi, 1968, possibly self-published; Studies about the Ngbaka People (with Ella Wallin), 1965, possibly self published; The Ngbaka of northern Zaire, 1973, possibly self published.


3 Boxes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given by Theodore Wallin to Wheaton College, first through professor Dr. Wilbert Norton beginning in 1965, who then passed the initial accessions and then the process to the Wheaton College Special Collections in 1979. In 1987, the documents were transferred to the Billy Graham Center Archives due to their relevance to missions history. Correspondence between Wallin and Wheaton College Special Collections referred to items that were not included in the accession as received by the BGC Archives.

Accession 87-115

November 13, 2007

Eveline Guehring

Bob Shuster

P. Ericksen

Collection 634 Papers of Theodore B. Wallin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US