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Collection 281 Papers of John and Florence Stauffacher

Identifier: CN 281

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, notes, clippings, and photographs relating to the Stauffachers' work as missionaries with Africa Inland Mission, chiefly from 1911 to the early 1940s. The materials document their careers from the earliest stages, describing their responsibilities and everyday life, primarily in Kenya and the Belgian Congo, but also in Uganda & Tanzania, their developing relationship by correspondence prior to Mrs. Stauffacher's arrival in Kenya and their subsequent marriage, as well as including a general history of AIM. Contains information relating to: the Stauffachers' work as missionaries in Kenya focusing principally on their daily life and work; family life, descriptions of Kijabe and activities there; also manuscripts on the history of Africa Inland Mission.


  • Created: 1902-1973

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

John W. Stauffacher was born near Monroe, Wisconsin in 1878. In 1896, he began attending Northwestern College in Naperville, Illinois. After taking a year off to work, he returned to Northwestern in 1900 to complete his degree. Through contact with the Student Volunteer Movement, Stauffacher decided to become a missionary to Africa. While attending the 1902 Student Volunteer Convention in Toronto, he had his first contact with Africa Inland Mission (AIM), along with being appointed the leader of the Volunteer Band of Northwestern. Stauffacher shared his responsibilities for this Band with Florence Minch, who later became his wife. Also in 1902, Stauffacher applied to AIM to serve as a missionary, and in mid-1903 went to Africa to work for the mission.

Stauffacher initially labored in Kijabe, Kenya Colony, British East Africa (now Kenya), but soon after began expeditions which started the mission's outreach to the nomadic Masai tribe. AIM's interest in the Masai had been limited only to planning, but the availability of a young Masai boy, who became the resource person for the Stauffachers, was the key to beginning evangelistic activity with the tribe. Together they moved into the newly established Laikipia Masai Reserve in Kenya to set up a mission station in Rumuruti. Following their furlough in 1909, Stauffacher was involved in expeditions into Uganda and Tanganyika (now Tanzania), was included in the first AIM group that explored the Belgian Congo (now Zaire) in 1912, and served at Api Hill, Mahagi, Belgian Congo, and at Butiaba, Uganda, until his furlough in 1914. Returning to Africa in 1918 after Word War I ended, the Stauffachers resumed their work with the Masai at Narok, Masai Reserve, Kenya, where they remained until 1940. While living with the Masai, Stauffacher compiled a dictionary of their language and completed a Masai translation of the Bible. He also worked among the Samburu tribe in Kenya.

In 1940 the Stauffachers retired from their ministry with the Masai, and opened the Guest Home for missionaries at Ruwenzori, Irumu, Belgian Congo. There they combined regular mission station duties with offering fellow missionaries a place for rest and retreat. Stauffacher suffered from health problems throughout his missionary career, and died while traveling to Nairobi in 1944 to get medical advice on an illness.

In the course of his missionary service, Stauffacher held a number of administrative posts with the mission. These included that of Treasurer for the mission, 1904-1906, Corresponding Secretary, 1906-1912, Field Director for East Kenya, 1912-1916, and Deputy General Director from 1921-1923.

Florence P. Minch Stauffacher was born in 1881 in Hooppole, Illinois, and studied to become a teacher at Northwestern College in Naperville, Illinois. Following two years of teaching near her hometown, she decided to become a missionary and in 1905 she joined Africa Inland Mission and departed for Africa. Enroute she was hospitalized in England for diphtheria and did not complete her journey to Kenya until 1906. In 1906, she married John W. Stauffacher. In 1908, the Stauffachers' first son, Raymond, was born. Claudon was born in 1910. Mrs. Stauffacher's contribution to the work included not only teaching Bible lessons, but teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, and sewing. Following her husband's death in 1944, Mrs. Stauffacher moved to the AIM station at Oicha, Irumu, Kenya, where she served until returning to Ruwenzori before her death in 1959.


3 Boxes

6 Photograph Files

Language of Materials


Arrangement and Description of Material

While documents written by the Stauffachers predominate, the collection also includes a few of the letters written to them, such as those by Charles Hurlburt, and these are interfiled chronologically with those written by the Stauffachers. The arrangement of the materials in this collection was provided by the archivist, as were the folder titles. The materials are arranged alphabetically by type of document (i.e., Clippings, Diaries, Notes, etc.) and chronologically within each type of document classification. Some items were foldered and boxed separately because of their size. The container list nonetheless reflects the alphabetical arrangement of document types. Duplicates were returned to the donor.

While the documents in the collection provide comprehensive, if sometimes brief, information on the Stauffachers' missionary careers until Mrs. Stauffacher's death in 1959, they are focused principally on the Stauffachers' life and work until the early 1940's. The core for this information is the Stauffachers' correspondence and diaries, which provide an almost continuous record of the Stauffachers' activity. The correspondence in Folders 1-1 through 1-28, 2-2 and 2-3 consists largely of that written by Mrs. Stauffacher to her family. These letters tend to discuss family news, everyday occurrences, and travel, but in this way provide a rich source of information on the routine activities of the Stauffacher family. These documents also include information about other missionaries. Folder 1-1 includes Mr. Stauffacher's introductory application letter to AIM and several subsequent letters which respond to specific questions raised by the mission leaders. Several of these letters have in the margins handwritten notes by the mission leaders on issues they wanted to address with Stauffacher.

Included also in Folder 1-1 is the beginning of John's correspondence with Florence. This series begins prior to his departure for Kenya and documents their courtship by mail and his preparations for going to Africa. Folders 1-2 through 1-4, covering the period from 1903 through 1905, consist largely of John's letters to Florence, and include his first impressions of Kijabe and descriptions of his activities there. During this time, Florence was considering following John to also serve in Africa. In his letters, Stauffacher therefore encourages her to join him. With their marriage, the correspondents become Mrs. Stauffacher and her family. These letters also cover such significant events as the Stauffacher marriage and the birth of their first child, Raymond, and some of their furloughs. Mr. Stauffacher's correspondence in these files tends to be to other members of Florence's family and therefore also includes discussion of family news. However, John's letters tend to include more information on the Stauffachers' ministry. The clippings in Folder 3-1 are principally reproductions of letters from the Stauffachers in the GENESEO REPUBLIC, but do not duplicate the letters in the correspondence section of this collection and therefore serve as a valuable supplement to those.

The diaries in the collection (Folders 1-29 through 1-39) provide the other in-depth source of information on the Stauffachers. With the exception of Mr. Stauffacher's diary in 1-31, all the diaries are those of Mrs. Stauffacher. They provide an almost daily look, although usually brief, at the life of Mrs. Stauffacher from 1906 until 1959. The researcher should note that the history of AIM in the Belgian Congo written by Mr. Stauffacher (Folder 1-41), is autobiographical and therefore gives detailed information on both the mission's activity and the Stauffachers' contribution to it. The diaries also document some of the Stauffachers' furloughs.

Folder 1-41 contains two manuscripts, one on the history of AIM and the other on the mission's history in the Belgian Congo. The former, dated c. 1915, is a detailed but broad overview of the Mission's development and expansion from its beginning in 1895. Included are accounts of expeditions into Uganda and Tanganyika, and the organizational transition from the leadership of Peter Cameron Scott to Charles Hurlburt, caused by the death of Scott, the mission's founder, in 1896. The document is also a good source for names of missionaries involved in AIM work during this initial period of the mission's history. The latter history, dated 1941, deals with one of the areas the Stauffachers worked in. This firsthand account is autobiographical and includes accounts of a meeting with Bishop Alfred Tucker in Uganda, who advised against opening new work in the Congo; descriptions of expeditions into the Congo, and evidence of the respect and admiration which Stauffacher had for Hurlburt, particularly in light of Hurlburt's handling of the transition from Scott's leadership and his difficult personal experiences in the early 1920's at the time of the illness and death of his daughter, Alta.

Accruals and Additions

The materials for this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center Archives in October, 1982, from J. Raymond Stauffacher.

Accession 82-150

December 17, 1984

Paul A. Ericksen

S. Geitgey

J. Nasgowitz

April 25, 1990, revised

J. Nasgowitz

Collection 281 Papers of John and Florence Stauffacher
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