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Collection 586 Papers of William A. Deans

Identifier: CN 586

Scope and Contents

Photographs, maps, articles, clippings, correspondence, manuscripts, and tracts relating to the ministry of William Alexander Deans, missionary and translator with Christian Mission in Many Lands. Materials document his work in northeast Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo), especially his publication of Christian literature into African languages.The bulk of the materials cover the 1930s and 1940s.


  • Created: 1930-1979

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: William Alexander Deans

Birth: September 23, 1908, Ancon, Canal Zone, Panama

Death: August 7, 1999, Pittsboro, North Carolina


Parents: Robert and Christina (MacIver) Deans

Siblings: Ella Gunn (Deans) Spees, Robert Scott Deans

Marital Status: Dora Elizabeth Winsor (1898-1979), May 4, 1933; Henrietta Ruth Partridge “Betty” (1918- ), September 1980

Children: Margaret “Peggy” Elizabeth (Deans) Williams (1934- ), Sarah “Sally” Christina Deans (1935- ), Patrician “Pat” Ann (Deans) Blume (1939-1980)

Conversion: Before 1923


1920s - Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA)


1929-1980 - Plymouth Brethren missionary and printer in the Belgian Congo with Christian Mission in Many Lands who worked with the Babira, Pygmy, Wabira, Wahema, Wangeti, and Walesi tribes

1929 - Went to the Belgian Conge with his missionary parents and brother and sister at Nyankunde

1930-1933 - Moved to Lolwa, Belgian Congo, in the Ituri forest to work with Pygmies

1933 - Returns to Nyankunde and opens a Bible school

1933-1945 - Involved in evangelistic outreach from Nyankunde

1937 - First furlough

1942 - Published first piece of Gospel literature (a tract) at Nyankunde

1944-1945 - Army Chaplain, Belgian Colonial Troops, Belgian Congo

1947-1949 - Second furlough

1945 - Began publishing ministry under the name Editions Evangéliques with Neno La Imani, in the Congo Swahili language, a bi-monthly (later monthly) paper

1950 - Published second paper Litatoli (1950), in the Lingala and later the Bengala languages, and Bible study periodicals (Maelezo, Maana, Mafika ye Congo), tracts, and books

1954-1955 - Furlough

1955 - Assisted in the translation of the New Testament and Psalms into Congo Swahili

1960-1961 - Evacuations from Congo

1961 - Authored the book, Muffled Drumbeats in the Congo

1980-1991 - Traveled throughout the United States and Canada stirring up interest and help for the needs at Nyankunde

1980s - Retired to Pittsboro Home in North Carolina

Other significant information:

1929-1945 - Bill’s parents, brother and sister were missionaries to the Belgian Congo


2.50 Cubic Feet (6 Boxes (DC), Oversize Materials, Photographs)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

Series: Oversize Materials

The following items are in the OVERSIZE FILE. Request by collection number and folder location (in parentheses).

MAPS (OS 35). Circa 1930-1950: Five maps in oversize folder 35 are of the Belgian Congo and surrounding areas.

A Map of Territories in which are located the Stations of Africa Inland Mission - Kenya Colony, Tanganyika Territory, Belgian Congo;” Folded, printed map with cover folder signed by D. E. Winsor [Dora Deans], color, 19"x 23", published by Africa Inland Mission. Ca. 1930.

Carte du Congo Belge, Montrant les centres des Missions Protestantes [Chart of Belgian Congo, showing the centers of the Protestant missions], published black & white map, 18"x18", World Dominon Press, undated

Carte de la Densite de la Population Congo Belge [Chart of the density of the population, Belgian Congo], published color map with booklet, scale 1:5,000,000, 28½”x 21", 1951.

Congo Belge [Belgian Congo], published color map, scale 1:3,000,000, 31½”x37", 1950.

Territoire de Djugu [Territory of the Djugu, Belgian Congo], published black & white map, scale 1:200,000, 29"x 35½”, 1945.

SATURDAY EVENING POST (OS 35). Copy of the June 23, 1951 issues of the Saturday Evening Post, containing the article, “The Conqueror of the Congo,” describing Deans’ missionary work in the Belgian Congo.

*****Series: Photographs

The following items are located in the PHOTOGRAPH FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

BLANCHARD, CHARLES ALBERT. Engraved photo of Blanchard with a facsimile of his signature and inscribed: “For William and Dora Winsor Deans, Most sincerely, Frances C. Blanchard, Sep. 14, 1933.”

DEANS, WILLIAM ALEXANDER. Portrait photographs of the Deans family and of William, snapshots of Pygmies some with William or Dora Deans, Pygmies with drawn bows, riverbank at Matadi, Congo, villages in the Congo, lip-plug African women, native reading a copy of Neno La Imani. 1943, 1946, undated. 14 b&w.


Series: Paper Records (Box List)

Arrangement: Alphabetical and chronological

Date Range: 1930-1979

Volume: 2.3 cubic feet; Boxes: 1-6

Type of Documents: Articles, Bible, clippings, correspondence, manuscript, maps, tracts, books and periodicals

Notes: Most of the paper records had water and mildew damage and some were separated from original folders. The archivist laced the documents in new folders and kept them, as much as was discernable, in their original order.

Most of the collection consists of Deans’ notes arranged by subject (folders 2-9 to 3-13) containing information on missionary life and work and African people groups (Babira, Pygmy, Wabira, Wangeti, Wahema, and Walesi), culture, and life. They are a valuable resource which give insight into early missionary work in northeast Belgian Congo, in the 1930s and 1940s. These may have been used in Deans’ prayer letters Staccato Drumbeats from Congo and articles in missionary magazines. A subject and code index in folder 2-8 corresponds to the subject folders, although not all the subjects listed have corresponding folders. Folders containing more than twenty pages cover the topics, evangelism amongst Babira (folder 2-18), missionary life (folder 2-35), native customs and traditions (folder 2-36), printing and publishing (folder 3-1), safari work (folder 3-4), and schools (folder 3-5).

A manuscript containing the first four chapters of Congo Chrysalis (folder 1-21) also includes notes for additional chapters. An untitled manuscript (folder 1-22) of over one hundred typewritten pages are arranged chronologically from 1932 to 1940 and by an index code contains mostly one or two page reports on a variety of topics. Those with titles are: “History of Work,” covering the years 1925 to 1930, (index #6-a) and “Who Supports the Missionary” (index #6-b, 1933).

Correspondences in folders (1-8 to 1-15) were written mostly by William and Dora Deans to their family (mainly their daughter Peggy), and prayer and financial supporters. These describe the events of the day, missionary work they were involved in, family matters, and political situations in the country including descriptions of problems that occurred after Congo independence in 1960 (folder 1-15). Scattered throughout are letters from other relatives and friends such as Aunt “Toddie” (Alice Winsor) in folder 1-12; Paul & Betty (Pierson) Teasdale (folder 1-13, 14); Paul and Bill Stough, and Earl A. Winson in folder 1-15. One folder (1-16) contains letters which were written in other languages.

An interesting article about Billy Deans’ missionary work titled “The Conqueror of the Congo,” appeared in the June 23, 1951 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. Folder OS 35 contains the original magazine and photocopies of the article are in folder 2-4.

The Congo Swahili New Testament and Psalms, with Deans’ notes, in folder 1-4, was presented to Deans by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1956 for his assistance in preparing the it.

In folder 1-2 are articles written by Deans including the booklet, L’Evangile au Congo Belge, (The Gospel in the Belgian Congo), and a typewritten English translation.

The miscellaneous folder (2-1) contains a Wheaton College Alumni magazine, October 1960, with a brief report by the Deans’ on their missionary work. A small envelope labeled “Mr. J. R. Kapple” containing two cards tied together with a ribbon with the names “William A. Deans” and “Dora E. Winsor” printed on them which were probably from the Deans wedding.

A variety of loose tracts published by Deans are in folder 3-15. A booklet (folder 3-14) with may of the same tracts pasted into it include the name of the language it was written in and the quantity printed. Folder 2-7 contains six copies of Staccato Drumbeats from Congo, the Deans’ personal newsletter to supports. The Congo Protestant Council Minutes of Meeting 33, February 21-28, 1954 are in folder 1-7.

Sermon materials in folder 2-5 include loose pages of outlines, clippings, notes, he used in preparing his messages. A sermon notebook with outlines and loose materials is in folder 2-6. The are clippings in folder 1-6 of articles written by Deans and others which were cut from various missionary magazines and pasted onto sheet of paper.

An almost complete set of publications, Neno La Imani (The Word of Faith, 1945-1961), and Litatoli (The Witness, 1950-1961) is also included in boxes 4,5, and 6. The periodical Neno La Imani was published in the Congo Swahili language and Litatoli in Bangala and Lingala. Boxes 4 and 5 also contain many books Deans’ published under Editions Evangéliques, mostly in the Congo Swahili language.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by William Alexander Deans in March 1987.

Accession 87-10

November 13, 2003

Wayne D. Weber

J. Dennison

Collection 586 Papers of William A. Deans
Wayne D. Weber
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