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Collection 299 Oral History Interview with Ruth M. Thomas

Identifier: CN 299

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with Ruth M. Thomas about her family and religious background, conversion, recollections of Billy Sunday's campaign in Scranton, PA in 1914, her education at Wheaton College, call to foreign missions, work as a missionary nurse with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in a rehabilitation program of a leper colony in southwestern China along the Burmese border among the Tai-Lu people, language study, worship and use of music, an anti-opium campaign, and a cooperative program of the colony. Other topics include The time period covered by the interviews is 1901-1947.

Ruth Thomas was interviewed by Paul A. Ericksen on March 6, 1985, at the Thomas' home in Swannanoa, NC.


  • Created: 1985

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Ruth Margaret Hatcher was born August 17, 1901, in Scranton, PA to Philip and Emma Hatcher. She grew up in a Christian & Missionary Alliance church and was converted while a teenager at a church revival meeting. She went to the Missionary Training Institute (1923-1925) in Nyack, NY and worked as a secretary at the Christian and Missionary Alliance headquarters in New York City (1925-1928). She received nurses training at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey, becoming an Registered Nurse in 1932. She then attended Wheaton College for one year, graduating in 1934. She married Howard E. Thomas in 1933; the Thomases were the first Wheaton couple allowed to marry while still students. While Howard studied at Mc Cormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, she worked for Wheaton's president, J. Oliver Buswell. She received additional degrees from Cornell University in Education in 1943 (Masters) and 1945 (Doctoral).

In 1937, the Thomases went to Yunnan Province in the Golden Triangle along the Burmese border in southwestern China as missionaries with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. There she with her husband was involved in ministry at a leper colony. While her husband coordinated the administration of the colony, Ruth oversaw the medical services and training. Immediately following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the Thomases were interned by the Japanese in Thailand until mid-1942, after which they returned to the United States. They returned to Asia in 1946 for one year, continuing work among lepers. After returning to the United States, the Thomases moved to Cornell where Howard began teaching. Ruth joined the College of Home Economics faculty in 1948. She interupted her teaching to establish the School of Practical Nursing fo the New York State Department of Adult Education, returning afterward to the University. The Thomases went to Laos in 1962 on a Community Development project for the U.S.A.I.D. The Thomases returned to the U.S., where they worked at Montreat College in Swannanoa, NC until their retirement.


2.00 Audio Tapes

99 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Ruth Thomas on March 1985.

Accession 85-37

February 22, 1993

Paul A. Ericksen

C. Easley

Collection 299 Oral History Interview with Ruth M. Thomas
Paul Ericksen
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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