Scope and Contents
The Gwen Coventry Papers consist of 1 linear foot of material divided into five series:
I. Correspondence, 1958 - 1994
II. Notes and Writings, 1958 - 1990, n.d.
III. Documentation of Activities, 1975 - 1980
IV. Collected Material, 1976 - 1993, n.d.
V. Personal and Memorabilia, 1956 - 1979, n.d.
This record group provides a personal look at missionary work in northern India and Nepal between 1959 and 1979 and an institutional record of a United Mission to Nepal administrator between 1975 and 1980. In particular, it offers insight into the development of the UMN's activities in rural Nepal during these periods, especially the increasing distribution and diversification of services offered.
The first series, Correspondence, consists primarily of Gwen Coventry's personal letters to her parents, but also includes circular letters (addressed "Dear Friends") she wrote for UMN during her foreign missionary career.
The second series, Notes and Writings, contains observations of India and Nepal and personal reflections on the success of Gwen's missionary work, as well as outlines for talks and a series of handdrawn maps of the areas in Nepal in which Gwen worked.
The third series, Documentation of Activities, consists of reports, minutes, directives, and census data produced by Gwen or her colleagues primarily during her tenure as Community Health Director for Palpa District in Nepal. These papers include documentation not only of the Buling-Arkhala Project and the Food for Work Programme (both important UMN projects that Gwen helped to found), but also smaller projects like the Bojha Goat Improvement Project and census data and health records used to demonstrate the need for these larger projects.
The fourth series, Collected Material, consists of official UMN documents not directly related to Gwen's work, as well as some general material relating to Nepal or northern India. In this latter category is "Deforestation in the Mahabharat", a report on the economics of the region Gwen served perpared and published by her colleague, Gary Shepherd.
The fifth and final series, Personal and Memorabilia, contains newspaper clippings, a service bulletin, photos, and postcards, as well as an insurance policy and registration for a motorcycle in Gwen's name. It also includes a photocopied page from a book (possibly Jonathan Lindell's Nepal and the Gospel of God) which mentions Gwen's missionary work.
- Majority of material found within 1958 - 1980
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Heather Telfer
- I. Correspondence, 1958-1994
- II. Notes and Writings, 1958-1990, n.d.
- III. Documentation of Activities, 1975-1980
- IV. Collected Material, 1976-1993, n.d.
- V. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1956-1979, n.d.
1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Language of Materials
These papers relate to Gwen Coventry, an Australian nurse, who worked as a Chistian missionary for Regions Beyond Missionary Union and the United Mission to Nepal in northern India and Nepal between 1959 and 1980. She served first as a hospital nurse in northern India and Tansen, Nepal, then as a community health worker in Bojha, Nepal, and finally as the director of the Community Health Programme for the UMN in Palpa District. She helped develop a structure of distributed rural dispensaries and traveling nurses, as well as founding agricultural programs as part of an increasingly holistic community development vision.
Biographical / Historical
- 1930 Jun 13
- Born in Victoria, Australia to Roy Thomas Coventry and Evelyn Kathleen Coventry
- 1943 - 1946
- Attended Strathcona Baptist Girls' Grammar School in Canterbury, Victoria.
- Attended Scott's Secretarial College and worked as a secretary for the British and Foreign Bible Society in Melbourne.
- 1948 Oct - 1952 Jun
- Trained as a nurse at Children's Hospital in Melbourne
- Served as a bush nurse in New South Wales for six months.
- c.1953 - 1956
- Served as nurse in the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
- Joined the founding staff at the Christian Service Center children's home in Melbourne
- 1958 Nov 22
- Departed for India as a missionary for the Regions Beyond Missionary Union
- Trained and worked as missionary nurse in north India and studied Hindi in preparation to travel into Nepal.
- Traveled into Nepal and worked as a nurse in the UMN Tansen Hospital in Tansen, Nepal.
- 1960 Mar - 1961 Oct
- Returned to Austraulia without permission of UMN and spent a year on the nursing staff at the Christian Service Center.
- 1961 Oct - 1962 Feb
- Returned to RBMU and UMN, assisted the UMN secretary in Kathmandu, and studied Nepali in preparation for the UMN language exam.
- 1962 - c.1967
- Served as nurse in UMN Tansen Hospital.
- Became Nursing Superintendent of UMN Tansen Hospital.
- 1966 Jun 6
- Published Nursing Notes, a curriculum for a two-year course for Auxiliary Nurses in Nepal.
- 1966 Nov - 1967 Oct
- Returned to Australia on furlough.
- 1967 - 1975
- Directed "Public Health" work in Palpa District, Nepal, based in Tansen until 1969. Traveled regularly through Palpa District, setting up clinics and providing basic medical care.
- 1969 - 1975
- Founded and worked out of the Bojha Disensary in Bojha in east Palpa District.
- 1972 Sep - 1973
- Returned to Australia on furlough.
- 1974 - 1975
- Severe famine affected Palpa District, especially villages near Bojha, leaving many Nepali without food and forced to borrow money at high interest from wealthier landowners.
- 1975 - 1980
- Directed efforts toward and for the Buling-Arkhala Project, a project of the UMN to significantly improve the argricultural and economic stability of the Buling and Arkhala Panchayats in east Palpa District.
- 1975 - c.1978
- Returned to Tansen to direct UMN's Community Health Programme.
- 1978 Feb
- Submitted, with others, the formal proposal of the Buling-Arkhala Project to the UMN Economic Development Board.
- 1978 Sep - 1984 Aug
- UMN Economic Development Board approves plans for Buling-Arkhala Project and operates it until it is closed by order of His Majesty's Government of Nepal because of local politics and agreements with His Majesty's Government resticting UMN operations to certain geographic areas.
- c.1978 May - c.1979 Mar
- Returned to Australia on furlough.
- 1979 Jul - 1980 Nov
- Studied in the Community Health Course at the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences in Melbourne.
- 1979 Nov - c.1980 Jan
- Returned to Nepal to undertake a comprehensive census and economic survey of the villages in the scope of the Buling-Arkhala Project. This survey marked the end of Ms. Coventry's work in Nepal.
- 1980 Feb - 1992 Aug
- Cared for parents until Mr. Coventry died in 1981 and Mrs. Coventry died in 1992.
- Obtained Bachelor of Education.
- 1981 Jan - c.1990
- Taught Child Care section at Box Hill TAFE in Mebourne.
- 1982 - c.2003
- Ministred to Cambodian refuges at Box Hill Baptist Church in Melbourne.
- 1995 - 1996
- Returned to Nepal in late 1995 to trek to Bojha and reunite with friends from missionary days.
- 2004 Aug 11
- Died in Melbourne, Australia, aged 74, from cancer.
- Guide to the Gwen Coventry Papers
- Andrew P. Shields and Martha Lund Smalley
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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