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Melvin Wittler Papers

Call Number: RG 201

Scope and Contents

The Melvin Wittler Papers consist of nine linear feet of material divided into five series: I. Documentation of Near East Mission, 1830-2002; II. Correspondence, 1952-1995; III. Writings, 1950-1995; IV. Subject Files, 1826-2001; V. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1949-1996. This collection contains valuable documentation of Protestant missionary work in Turkey as well as documentation of religious and political events in the Middle East during Wittler's years of service.

Series I, Documentation of Near East Mission is divided into two subseries: Organization and Policy Records, and Institutions/Activities. Material in this series documents the work in Turkey of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Church Board for World Ministries (Amerikan Bord Heyeti). The series includes meeting minutes, reports, memoranda, and mission newsletters, in addition to materials on the history of the mission and the different schools, hospitals, and other groups it supported.

Series II, Correspondence, includes both personal and general correspondence dating from 1952 to 1995, arranged chronologically. Series III is comprised of writings by Wittler, including student papers from his studies at Yankton College, Hartford Seminary, and Princeton University as well as prayers and sermons. The papers are arranged chronologically. The Subject Files of Series IV contain a wide variety of materials collected by Wittler, including regarding human rights, refugees, Armenian genocide, and church relations as well as materials from conferences, seminars, and meetings that he attended. The final Series encompasses Wittler's personal items such as a household account book and a pastoral recordbook as well as his educational awards, certificates, and newspaper articles about him.

Due to the chaotic state in which the papers were received, their current arrangement is not a reflection of Melvin Wittler's organization but rather an order established by library staff in order to facilitate research in the collection.


  • 1826-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1956 - 1993


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to Yale University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Nancy Wittler, 2004.


  1. I. Documentation of Near East Mission, 1830-2002
  2. II. Correspondence, 1952-1995
  3. III. Writings, 1950-1995
  4. IV. Subject Files, 1826-2001
  5. V. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1949-1996


9 Linear Feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, and collected material document the life and work of Melvin Wittler, who was an American Protestant missionary in Turkey from 1956 to 1993, and provide insight into religious and political events in the Middle East. Wittler served as an administrator for the Near East Mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Church Board for World Ministries, overseeing the Mission's educational and medical work.

Biographical / Historical

Melvin Armin Wittler was born on March 25, 1929 in Hartington, Nebraska to Frank William Wittler and Cecil Maria Fiscus. After graduating from Hartington High School in Nebraska in 1947, he received a B.A. from Yankton College, South Dakota in 1951 and a B.Th. from Yankton College School of Theology in 1952. He served as minister at West Point, Nebraska Congregational Church from 1950 to 1952. On August 8, 1953 he married Nancy Patriquin; the Wittlers had three sons and one daughter: Nathan Scott (b. 1957), Bryan Kevin (b. 1961), Heather Ellen (b. 1962) and Bradford Kent (b. 1963). In 1956 Wittler received a B.D. from Hartford Seminary and April 29th of the same year was appointed as a missionary to the Near East Mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which was later known as the United Church Board for World Ministries. . From1957 to1961 Wittler served as teacher of philosophy, American Academy for Girls, Uskudar, Istanbul. In 1960 he became Field Secretary, Near East Mission of United Church Board for World Ministries. He served on the Board of Managers for both the Admiral Bristol Hospital and the Gaziantep American Hospital as well as the American Board Schools. Rev. Wittler also held membership to the Turkish-American University Association, the American Friends of the Middle East, and the Health and Education Foundation. He was active in providing assistance to refugees throughout the region. During a furlough period in 1962 Wittler did graduate study in Oriental Studies at Princeton University. The Wittlers were also on furlough in the U.S. for a year beginning in June 1967. On Tuesday, July 24, 1979, the Mission offices in Istanbul were invaded and bombed by an anti-U.S. militant group. Again in 1991, during the Gulf War, the Istanbul office was bombed by anti-U.S. terrorists. In 1993 the Wittlers retired to West Dummerston, Vermont. Melvin received the Education Award from the American Turkish Council in 1995. He died on February 27, 2003.

Guide to the Melvin Wittler Papers
Lisa Murphy and Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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