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Collection 171 Papers of Albert and Mary Lee Bobby

Identifier: CN 171

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews and personal papers of Albert and Mary Lee Bobby, missionaries in Lisbon and Santiago do Cacem, Portugal, under The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). Collection includes interviews, articles, correspondence, prayer letters, manuscript notes, and other material from the Bobbys about their mission work, including evangelism and radio broadcasting. The correspondence also includes information on various theological issues and American Christian leaders. The oral history interviews with the Bobbys cover for each their childhood, conversion, education, marriage, work in Portugal, church activities in the United States and observations about missions.


  • Created: 1980-1982

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Mary Lee Turner was born February 5, 1928, in Atalissa, Iowa, the daughter of Leonard Anthony and Mary Lettie Pampel Turner. Her father was a minister and evangelist, the son of English immigrants who came to America in 1871 to take advantage of the Homestead Act. Mary's paternal grandfather authored a book, Pioneers of the West. Her mother had been a Kansas schoolteacher prior to marriage.

Mary Lee received a B.A. degree from Wheaton College in 1949. She studied further at the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and was awarded an M.Ed. degree from the University of Maryland in 1977. She was married in Washington, D.C., August 13, 1949, to Albert Edward Bobby, he was born in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, December 31, 1925, to Lutheran parents John Bobal and Annie Furcho. John Bobal, a coal-mining immigrant from Austria-Hungary, anglicized his surname to Bobby. By 1933, John Bobby had lost both of his legs in separate mining accidents. Albert and Mary Lee Bobby were the parents of three children: Patricia Joanne (later Mrs. Kenneth Zint), born 1951; Janet Lee (later Mrs. Tom Pack), born 1954; and Jonathan Dwight, born 1960. The first was born in Elmhurst, Illinois, the second and third in Lisbon, Portugal.

Albert Bobby served in the United States Navy during World War II, and later as a statistician with the Department of the Interior where Mary worked as a secretary. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1952 and from 1953 to 1961 the couple served as missionaries under The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). Upon returning to America in 1961, he took a position as an analyst with the U. S. Department of Defense, where he also taught Portuguese courses, and made occasional short visits to Portugal in the interests of literature work. Following their return to the States, Mary Lee taught elementary school, and directed a day care center/nursery school. Albert Bobby died in 1998.

In 1982, the Bobbys were living in Bowie, Maryland, and attending Georgetown Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., an English- and Portuguese- speaking congregation. Al was involved in frequent pulpit supply, and Mary Lee directed the choir.


0.40 Cubic Feet

254 Minutes

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Materials

Series I: Oral History Interviews

Mary Lee Bobby and Albert Bobby were interviewed in their home in Bowie, Maryland, by Galen Wilson on May 21, 1982. The time period covered by the interviews is roughly 1953-1982.

Series II: Paper Records (Box List)

NOTE: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means box 2, folder 5.]

Eight articles (folder 1-1) concern various aspects of missionary life; they were all published in TEAM's monthly magazine, The Missionary Broadcaster. One article, "I Saw it Work," published in November 1955, was written by Jose Illido Freire, a Portuguese pastor, and concerns the tract ministry in Portugal. The other seven articles were authored by Mary Lee Bobby.

April 1955: "Good Friday Procession"

December 1956: "Portugal Youth Conference Held"

December 1956: "More Blessed to Give," concerning Portuguese women

January 1957: "Portuguese School Teacher"

January 1957: "Youth Goes to Camp"

May 1958: "Onlookers at a Spanish Funeral"

February 1959: "Bread Basket of Portugal," concerning mission work in the southern province of Alentejo.

Correspondence (folder 1-2) concerns articles in The Missionary Broadcaster and includes a carbon of a 1956 letter giving prayer requests of the Portugal mission served by the Bobbys. Field Briefs (folder 1-3) are clippings from The Missionary Broadcaster concerning the Bobbys.

Notes (folder 1-4) are the heart of the collection. These are manuscript writings, parallel to journal entries in form and content, reflecting Portugal as Mary Lee Bobby encountered it. Topics discussed are: Portuguese culture (including family relationships and sex roles as defined within the culture), language, customs, personal witnessing, problems, Roman Catholicism, dress, and teenagers.

Twenty-one prayer letters (folder 1-5) cover the Bobbys' mission work from their arrival in Lisbon in 1953 to 1964 when they were living in Maryland, and at which point it had become clear that they would not be returning to Europe permanently. These letters emphasize the radio and literature evangelism and personal witnessing, all of which were important activities of the Portugal mission.

The correspondence in folders 1-6 and 1-7 concerns primarily the work of TEAM in Portugal as carried out by several missionary couples. Folder 1-6 details the Bobbys' own work there while folder 1-7 follows the history of the work after their departure in 1961. Of interest in folder 1-6, broken down chronologically, are these topics:

1953-1954: Difficulty experienced by sponsoring church in working within TEAM's financial policies; Portugal's politics; visa problems; insurance claims on items damaged in transit.

1955-1956: Bobbys' short sojourn in Santiago do Cacem; political upheaval; radio work.

1959-1961: Bookstore/radio work; camp work; tract work

Correspondence in folder 1-7 is the Bobbys' letters to several other missionary couples in Portugal: Luke and Ruth Boughter, Stanley and Francisca Foreid, Magnus and Clara Foreid, Dean and Laurie Fredrikson, and J. C. and Barbara Ghouldston. While there are no letters from these missionaries, some of the mission work is reflected in the letters that are here. Folder 1-8 contains letters between members of the Bobby family, giving a view into interpersonal relationships within a missionary family.

Miscellaneous correspondence (folder 1-9) includes a letter of support to Carl McIntire; congratulations to Steven Tchividjian on his upcoming marriage to Virginia Graham; a warning about a dubious national worker in Portugal (see Nealy letters); thoughts on the house-church concept (see Pethybridge letter); and the Bobbys' continued interest in the Portuguese work all through the time that their status with TEAM was in flux.

Folder 1-10 contains documentation about the tongues movement's impact on the work of TEAM in Lisbon, 1961-1962. It includes personal correspondence and committee meeting minutes, dealing with the sensitive issue which resulted in a break between some of the local churches and TEAM support.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Mary Lee Bobby in April 1980, January 1981, and May 1982. The documents in folders 1-6 to 1-10 were photocopied from originals loaned by the Bobbys, and the original were returned.

Accession 80-53, 82-77

December 7, 1981

Galen R. Wilson

J. Nasgowitz

October 21, 1982

Galen R. Wilson

Collection 171 Papers of Albert and Mary Lee Bobby
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

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