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Collection 248 Papers of William J. Barnett

Identifier: CN 248

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews and booklet of short stories and photographs created by William John Barnett, relating to his upbringing in Kenya as the son of missionaries with Africa Inland Mission (AIM) and his own later medical missionary service in Tanzania, Kenya, and the Comoro Islands from 1950-1990.

Series: Audio Tapes

Oral history interviews with William John Barnett in which he describes his childhood in Kenya with his missionary parents; experiences with members of the Maasai people; attendance at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya and high school in the United States; attendance at Columbia Bible College and Wheaton College; memories of a revival at Wheaton; medical training at Albany Medical College; service as an army surgeon in Korea immediately after World War II; his initial work as a missionary doctor in Tanzania in the early 1950s; the Africa Inland Mission and Africa Inland Church in Tanzania in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly at Kola Ndota; and a revival at Wheaton College in the late 1930s; his work at the hospital in Kijabe, Kenya and later medical work in the Comoro Islands; the effects of British colonialism on Christianity in Africa; detailed descriptions of medical procedures and specific injuries and ailments; legacy of the Kijabe hospital since Barnett’s departure in 1979. The time period covered by the interviews is circa 1920 to 1983.

William Barnett was interviewed by Robert Shuster on March 29, April 5, and May 27, 1983, at the Billy Graham Center and on May 30, 1995 at his son’s home in Peoria, Illinois, April 24, 1998, at his home in Laguna Hills, California, on March 29, 2007 in Laguna Hills, California, and in Peoria, IL on June 7, 2007.

Series: Box List

Booklet of short stories written by Barnett drawing on his childhood memories of Kenya and photographs of Africa from his personal collection, complied by his son, James W. Barnett


  • Created: 1983-1997

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: William John Barnett

Birth Date: May 29, 1917, Kenya


Parents: Albert Edmond Barnett and Elma Elizabeth Nischer Barnett; Africa Inland Mission (AIM) missionaries for twenty-five years

Siblings: Older siblings: Clark (died at 20 months), Erik and Arthur Malcolm (twins), Paul Austin, and Ruth Dorothy

Marital Status: Married Laura M. Lane, June 1944. Mrs. Barnett was trained as a nurse at the Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago and the Russell Sage College in Troy, New York.

Children: Ruth, Theodore, Eileen, Carol Elaine, Martha, James

Conversion: At the age of twelve


1929-1931 - Rift Valley Academy, British East Africa (now Kenya)

1931-1933 - Columbia High School, Columbia, South Carolina

1933-1937 - Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University), Columbia, South Carolina

1937-1939 - Wheaton College, Bachelor of Philosophy degree

1939-1941 - Wheaton College, taking pre-med courses

1942-1945 - Albany Medical College, Albany, New York, Doctor of Medicine degree. While at medical school, he was also enrolled in the U. S. Army’s medical program.


1945-1947 - Surgical residency, Schenectady, New York

1947-1949 - As an army officer, served as orthopedic surgeon at Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina, for a almost a year then chief of surgery of a hospital in Korea

1949-1950 - Anesthesiology residency, Schenectady, New York

1950-1961 - AIM missionary doctor at Shinyanga Hospital, Kola Ndoto, Tanzania

1961-1963 - Furlough, Wheaton, Illinois

1963-1979 - Director of the Kijabe Medical Centre, Kijabe, Kenya. Raised funds for and planned a greatly expanded facility; developed nurses training program.

1979 - Furlough, Wheaton, Illinois

1979-1983 - Hospital work at Mitsamiouli, Grande Comoro, Comoro Islands

1983 - Furlough, Wheaton, Illinois

1984?-1990 - Hospital work at Mitsamiouli, Grande Comoro, Comoro Islands

1990 - Retired to California

1990s - Volunteer medical service in Somalia Other significant information

1933-1937 - President of the Student Association at Columbia Bible College

1937-1939 - President of Student Foreign Missions Fellowship at Wheaton College

1942-1945 - Active in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship while at Albany Medical College

1960s? - Member of the Christian Medical Society

1962 - Elected a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, honorary medical fraternity


1 Box (DC), Audio Tapes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in March, April and May 1983, May 1995, April 1998, and March and June 2007.

Accession 83-34, 83-37, 83-60, 95-96, 98-21, 07-20, 07-37

November 21, 1986

Frances L. Brocker

J. Nasgowitz

Updated January 30, 1997

Robert Shuster

Updated May 8, 2007, Revised

Wayne D. Weber

Updated November 25, 2013

Katherine Graber

Collection 248 Papers of William J. Barnett
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US