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Collection 185 Papers of Albert and Muriel Nichols

Identifier: CN-185

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, photos, negatives and miscellaneous documents concerning family events and career decisions relating to the Nicholas’ missionary work in Sierra Leone. The bulk of the letters were sent to family during a two year period while the Nichols were serving as missionaries to Sierra Leone, where Albert was director of Industrial Education at Albert Academy.

Topics include life in and methods of education of an urban missionary school in the 1920's, teaching industrial education at Albert Academy for the United Brethren Church, curriculum and effectiveness of teaching methods, the indigenous population, and African tribal customs and church services, Christian literature production, and organizational communication.


  • Created: 1904-1952
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1920-1927

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Albert Sylvanus Nichols was born March 3, 1896, in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, one of seven children. After high school graduation in 1915 in Westerville, Ohio, he attended Otterbein College between 1917 and 1921; one of those years was spent in the Army and he afterward received a B.A. in 1921. During his senior year, he and Muriel Murray became engaged while both were at Otterbein.

Muriel was born February 12, 1899, in Knox County, Illinois, also into a family of seven children. She spent a year at Illinois Normal at Bloomington, another year at Knox College, 1918-1919, and received a B.S. degree at Otterbein in 1922. Albert and Muriel were married March 2, 1922, while Albert was teaching high school in Warrensburg, Illinois.

The Nichols spent the next two years, 1923 to 1925, as missionaries for the United Brethren Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Albert was Director of Industrial Education at Albert Academy, teaching woodworking and printing, while Muriel taught science.

After returning to this country in 1925, Albert earned an M.A. in education along with two years of study in architecture, both at the University of Illinois. The Nichols' son, Roger L., was born in 1927. For the next twelve years, Albert worked in public school administration in Illinois districts. The Nichols' daughter, Cynthia, was born in 1931. Albert completed a Ph.D. in educational administration at the University of Chicago in 1941. After positions at Macalester College, Minnesota, and Grinnell College, Iowa, he came to Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, in 1944 as professor of education and psychology. With other responsibilities, he began in 1946 assuming duties of Admissions and retired as Director of Admissions in 1960.

Muriel Nichols returned to grade school teaching in Wheaton-area communities between 1951 and 1964, when she retired at age sixty-five. Both the Nichols were active at Wheaton Bible Church, and were responsible for founding of Countryside Chapel in Glendale Heights. In 1961, Albert designed the church building. Both taught in the Sunday school and attended Moody Bible Institute for further Bible study. The broadcasting station, ELWA, established in Liberia, West Africa, was the result of conversations with college students in the Nichols' living room.

In August, 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Nichols were both injured in a car-train accident in Wheaton from which Muriel recovered only after a prolonged period. A reception for all family members and friends was held at Wheaton Bible Church in March 1972 in honor of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. A second car accident in October 1979 was ultimately responsible for Muriel's death on June 22, 1980. In July, 1981, Dr. Nichols moved to New Hope, Minnesota, to live with the family of his son, Roger.


1.50 Cubic Feet