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Collection 202 Papers of Berea St. John Feiner

Identifier: CN 202

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, articles, photographs, and various other materials created or compiled by Berea St. John Feiner. Collection includes items on a wide variety of missionary endeavors over a span of 140 years, notes of explanation with individual items, missionary stories, Feiner's and others' published articles concerning the work Harold L. and Biola Ogilvie in Nigeria and other Sudan Interior Mission personnel, a J. Herbert Kane article on Roland Bingham.  Topics covered include missions in China and Nigeria, ministry to prisoners, work of the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, outreach to Navajo Indians, her step-grandmother Lucy Anne Knowlton, Allen Cameron's missionary work in China and association with J. Hudson Taylor.  Also includes a 1896 list of Sunday School materials, a photograh of Navigator president Dawson Trotman's home, correspondence between two Baptist Female Missionary Societies, and a letter from Feiner's grandfather James St. John describing his regret for not following God's call to ministry.

[NOTE: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "folder 1-1" means box 1, folder 1.]

The Feiner Papers are an eclectic assemblage of material from a broad base of sources, touching on a wide variety of missionary endeavors over a span of 140 years. Mrs. Feiner included many notes of explanation with individual items, and these have been filed with those items. The core of the collection is missionary stories written by Mrs. Feiner, primarily in the 1930s. Folder 1-10 contains notes, rough drafts, final drafts, and published articles concerning the Sudan Interior Mission work of Harold L. and Viola Ogilvie in Nigeria. This folder also has twelve pages of manuscript notes concerning the grammatical structure of the Iregwe language, as dictated to her by Ogilvie. Folder 1-13 has a 1936 letter from Ogilvie, a 1933 letter from Rowland V. Bingham, general director of the SIM, and a SIM tract sent to Mrs. Feiner by the mission. Bingham is further documented in an article by J. Herbert Kane about him, dated 1973 (folder 1-5). Folder 1-9 consists of two articles, in rough and final drafts, concerning the work of Rev. and Mrs. William Dring, appointees of the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society in Assam, 1890-1911, where they ministered to the Garo tribe. These articles were written in 1933, when Mrs. Feiner interviewed the Drings, then in retirement in Colorado.

Miscellaneous articles by Mrs. Feiner include "Acinge," concerning the Miango, Nigeria, area (folder 1-7); "Winging the Word Over Prison Walls," about the prison evangelism work of Josephine Wang in Los Angeles (folder 1-8); and articles (all from the 1930s) about evangelism among Navajo Indians, evangelism opportunities created by the Great Depression, Colorado prison evangelism, and Gideons placing Bibles in Colorado public schools (folder 1-11). Some of Mrs. Feiner's articles appeared in The Jail Evangelist, The Evangelical Christian, and The Sunday School Times.

China missions is the topic of several folders. Letters in folder 1-6 were written by James and Sarah St. John, father and step-mother of missionary Lucy Ann Knowlton (see the St. John genealogy page in this guide) in 1862, commenting briefly on their daughter, but more on Michigan's participation in the Civil War. A 1902 letter of Lucy Ann's, also in the folder, contains family news, but nothing regarding missions. A photograph of Lucy Ann, taken in the 1860s, shows her surrounded by Chinese memorabilia. Folder 1-14 is a pamphlet authored by J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission. Folder 1-2 contains several bits of documentation about Allen Noah and Jennie Cameron, who were totally supported by the Galilee Baptist Church of Denver, Colorado, in their mission work in Changsha, Hunan Province, China. Included in this folder are a printed letter from the Camerons, dated 1905; a coal bill (printing and manuscript on rice paper) in Chinese, presented to the mission; a bookmark printed in the mission printshop; and embroidery work done by girls at the mission orphanage. Allen Cameron was with J. Hudson Taylor on the day of Taylor's death. Mrs. Cameron returned to the United States because of her health and died here. Mr. Cameron remained in China and, being wholly absorbed into Chinese culture, grew a queue and adopted native dress. He died in Changsha sometime after 1936.

Miscellaneous materials on missions include a lengthy 1834 letter (folder 1-4) from Samuel S. Day to Sarah M. Jordan (later Mrs. James St. John) in response to her desire to serve on the mission field, discussing the perseverance of the saints, special difficulties encountered by female missionaries, and Day's own preparation for the mission field (Day became a missionary to India). There is also a letter (folder 1-1) between corresponding secretaries of two Baptist Female Missionary Societies in New York, dated 1835, concerning what those at home can do to support foreign missionaries. Folder 1-3 contains an expiration notice, 1896, of the David C. Cook Publishing Company, listing all their available Sunday school materials. See the Photograph Location Record in this guide for a photo of Navigator founder Dawson Trotman's home in Long Beach, California, 1935. A detailed explanation of the photo is filed with it. Folder 1-12 contains an 1838 letter of James St. John to his fiancee Sarah Jordan, in which he chastises himself for not answering God's call to the ministry.


  • Created: 1834-1973

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Berea Edith St. John was born in Denver, Colorado, on October 4, 1909, one of four children born to Farnum and Jennie Patterson St. John. Her father was an attorney-turned-Baptist-minister, and his family had a long tradition of interest in mission work. Berea received her B.A. from the University of Denver in 1931, and an M.A. (Psychiatric Specialty) from the same institution's School of Social Work in 1939. She did further graduate work at the University of Southern California, UCLA, Los Angeles Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Southern California Institute for Psychoanalytic Medicine. She was a licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a licensed Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist.

From 1931 to 1932, Berea worked at the Baptist Christian Center under the direction of the American Baptist Home Missions Society (ABHMS). In 1934, she was supervisor of a Social Survey of Delinquent Areas for the ABHMS, and in 1939 was employed by the WPA as supervisor of case reviews in a seventeen-county area of Colorado. All through this period, she also did free-lance journalism. In 1939, she moved to California, where she was Director of Social Work at the Van Nuys McKinley Home for Boys, 1939-1950. From 1950 to 1970, she worked for the Los Angeles Public Schools as a Psychiatric Social Worker and Mental Health Consultant. For part of that time, she also carried on private practice as a psychotherapist and church counselor.

Berea St. John was married March 17, 1967, to Virgil Leon Feiner, who was born July 28, 1914. The Feiners were members of the West Hollywood Baptist Church, and Berea sat on the Board of the World Bible Study Fellowship. Her articles appeared in The Sunday School Times, Eternity, The Evangelical Christian, The Jail Evangelist, The Social Science Quarterly, and Mental Hygiene. In 1982, the Feiners made their home in Los Angeles. Berea died February 21, 2005.


1 Box

4 Photograph Files

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Berea Feiner between June, 1981, and April, 1982. The correspondence in folders 1-1, 1-4, 1-6, and 1-12 are typed transcripts of originals sold by Mrs. Feiner to a California manuscript dealer in 1980.

Accession: 81-61, 81-66, 81-85, 81-93, 81-101, 81-108, 81-114, 81-125, 81-136, 82-1, 82-23, 82-48

May 26, 1982

Galen R. Wilson

J. Nasgowitz

Collection 202 Papers of Berea St. John Feiner
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