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Collection 363 Papers of Ruth M. Mellis

Identifier: CN 363

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, prayer letters, clippings, photographs, oral history interviews and audio tapes of missionary conference relating to the missionary career of Ruth M. Mellis. Materials document her work among orphans and students in Greece, the Greek Bible Institute, the Greek language, and Greater Europe Mission; oral history interviews describe her childhood, attendance at Wheaton College, work with Near East Relief in Siros, teaching public schools in the St. Louis area, teaching at the Queen's School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the cultures and the churches countries she lived in, and other mission-related topics.


  • Created: 1928-1987

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Ruth Mellis was born and brought up in St. John, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. She was the oldest of four children. Her younger brother, Charles Mellis, later became a co-founder of Mission Aviation Fellowship (see Collection 136). The Mellis family was of Scottish background and nominally Presbyterian. They began attending the interdenominational Hope Church, and became active supporters of mission work.

Mellis graduated from Harris Teachers College in 1926. During a graduation trip to the British Isles and Greece, she learned of the work of Near East Relief with Greek orphans following the League of Nations' exchange of Greek and Turkish populations in 1922-23. Attracted to the work, she asked her parents to let her stay to work as a teacher in an orphanage on the Greek island of Siros (also spelled Syros). She remained there until 1928, when she returned to the U.S. at her parents' request. She taught in a public school in the St. Louis area for a year and then in 1929 enrolled in Wheaton College, where she was influenced by several teachers, particularly Miss Edith Torrey and the College president, J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. Following her graduation from Wheaton, she returned to St. Louis to teach once more in the public schools.

In 1946 she went to Ethiopia to teach in the Queen's School in Addis Ababa, where she also had contact with some of the Greek orphans she had taught years before in Siros, who were now grown and settled in Ethiopia or Egypt. Following the expiration of her teaching contract in 1949, she again returned to the U.S. Encouraged by her pastor, J. B. Thornton, she returned to Greece in the early 1950's as a "faith missionary," earning her keep by giving private English lessons. She also worked in Macedonia with the Greek Evangelical Church. She continued her efforts on behalf of the Greek orphans, helping to find displaced families in Greece and throughout Europe and northern Africa in cooperation with the Lost Persons Bureau of the Greek Red Cross.

In 1956 she returned to the U. S. once again, due to her parents' ill health; her father died in 1956, and her mother in 1957. While she was in the United States during that time, she worked as a counselor at the Billy Graham Crusade in New York City. After returning to Greece from 1957 to 1959, she came back to the States again, and from 1959 to 1962 taught and then, during the last few months of that period, worked as Dean of Women at the Midwest Bible Institute in St. Louis, MO.

Mellis traveled to and from Greece between 1963 and 1971, when she with an American woman who had married and then separated from a Greek man. Mellis tutored the woman's daughters and guided their adjustment to American schools and the English language. For the involvement with this family, the Greek husband brought suit against Mellis and she was prevented from returning to Greece again until a visit in 1985-86.

From 1973 to 1977, she served as a teacher of missionary children and librarian at the CAM International school in Puebla, Mexico, following which she retired in the St. Louis, MO, area and remained active in the affairs of Hope Church. She died January 15, 2007, three months short of her hundredth birthday.


0.70 Cubic Feet (2 Boxes (DC), 4 Reels and 7 Cassettes of Audio Tape, Photographs)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Materials

Series: Audio Tapes

Oral History Interviews (T1-T4)

Two oral history interviews with Ruth M. Mellis, in which she describes her conversion, Christian growth, her years at Wheaton College, work with Near East Relief in Siros, teaching in public schools in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, teaching at the Queen's School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and work in Greece as a faith missionary. She also discusses the various cultures she encountered in the countries she lived in, and the situation of the Christian churches there. The time period covered by the interviews is 1907 to 1977.

Ruth Margaret Mellis was interviewed by Robert Shuster on June 20 and 22, 1987.

Personal Field Reports (T5-T8)

Four audio tapes which Mellis recorded as field reports. Includes a verbal report on Billy Graham's 1980 crusade in Mexico City and a talk by and two memorial services for her brother, Charles Mellis, Jr., one of the founders of Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Hope Church Missionary Conference (T9-T11)

Four audio tape cassettes (T 5-T 8) relating to a missionary conference at Hope Church, a report to Hope Church on a trip to Mexico to attend the 1981 Billy Graham Mexico Crusade, a report on a trip to Greece in 1983, and a personal letter to a friend in Mexico urging her to follow Christ; and three audio tape cassettes which have to do with her brother, Charles Mellis, Jr.


Series: Photographs

Six photograph files arranged topically, documenting work Mellis did at the CAM International School in Puebla, Mexico. See the Photographs Series below for further description.


Series: Paper Records (Box List)

[NOTE: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "Folder 2-5" means box 2, Folder 5.]

The correspondence found in this collection includes personal letters, newsletters, and prayer letters written and received by Mellis. See the Container List for the names of her correspondents. Some documents in folder 1-5 mention the work Mellis did, in collaboration with the Hellenic Red Cross, to help her former pupils from the Orphans Home of Syros Island to locate lost relatives. Mellis taught for several years in the Bible School operated by the Greek Evangelical Church in Katerini, Greece, and information about the school and church, as well as the church's pastor, Argos Zodhiates, may be found in folder 2-2.

There are newsletters of the Society of Biblical Studies of the Greek Bible Institute, Athens, Greece, in folder 1-17. This was a missionary program under the auspices of Greater Europe Mission. Mellis was involved with seeking evangelical Greek language radio programming, both that was meant to be heard in Greece and that for Greek-speaking people in the United States (folders 1-9, 10). In connection with her interest in Greek-language radio programs, Mellis attend the Third World Conference on Christian Communications held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 12-15, 1961 (see folder 2-4). Correspondence and photographs documenting work Mellis did at the CAM International School in Puebla, Mexico may be found in folder 2-2.

Accruals and Additions

These materials were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives on June 20 and 22, 1987.

Accession 87-68, 87-70

February 15, 1989

Lannae Graham

T. Jodon

J. Nasgowitz

Accession 87-65, 87-69, 87-135

September 18, 1990, updated

Janyce H. Nasgowitz

Related Materials

The following item has been given to the MISSIONS AND EVANGELISM COLLECTION, BUSWELL LIBRARY:

Mellis, Claire Scholland. More Than A Pilot: A Pioneer in Mission Aviation. (Privately printed), 1985.

Collection 363 Papers of Ruth M. Mellis
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US