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John and Eleanor Reuling Papers

Call Number: RG 120

Scope and Contents

An initial donation of material processed in 1997 has been augmented by additional papers received from the Reuling family in 2002. This collection provides valuable documentation of American Protestant mission work in Africa during the period when the Reulings were working there (1927-1942) and thereafter through the 1960s in connection with John Reuling's work as regional secretary for Africa for the American Board.

Regular and detailed letters written to family members in the U.S. from 1927 to 1941 provide information about the mission work in South Africa and the life of a missionary family. This correspondence is complemented by writings and collected material related to the Reulings' work in Africa. An abridged and edited collection of the letters of John and Eleanor Reuling 1927-1941 has been compiled and edited by their daughter Edna Reuling Wade: Praise Names of Reuling: a Zulu Song (2015).

Several books were received with the collection. Copies of the books already held by the Divinity LIbrary has been retained with the Reuling Papers while others have been added to the library's cataloged collection.


  • 1920-1965


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

1997 Gift of United Church Board for World Ministries; 2002 Gift of the Reuling family.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1927-1964, n.d.
  2. II. Collected Material, 1920s-1963
  3. III. Writings, 1960-1965, n.d.
  4. IV. Biographical Documentation, 1926-1990,n.d.


4 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Letters, reports, and writings document American mission work in South Africa from 1927 to the 1960s. John A. Reuling was director of teachers' training at Adams College, Natal, South Africa, serving under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, from 1927 to 1941. After 1946 he was an administrator for the United Church Board for World Ministries, serving first as regional secretary for Africa and then as general secretary for Mission. Eleanor Swanson Reuling also taught at Adams College and assisted her husband in his work.

Biographical / Historical

Born in Osceola, Nebraska in 1906, John A. Reuling graduated from Michigan State College and received an M.A. from Cornell University. From 1927 to 1941, he was director of teachers' training at Adams College, Natal, South Africa, serving under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He also served as farm manager and vice-principal of Adams College and District Commissioner for the African Boy Scouts.

From 1942 to 1945, Reuling was president of Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Northland College in 1945.

Beginning in 1946, Reuling was Africa Secretary for the American Board and its successor, the United Church of Christ's Board for World Ministries. From 1962 until his retirement in 1971, Reuling was General Secretary for Mission, United Church Board for World Ministries. John Reuling died in 1990.

Eleanor Swanson Reuling was born in 1903 and graduated from Michigan State College. She married John Reuling in 1926, and was appointed as an ABCFM missionary to South Africa in 1927. In addition to raising the couple's four children and providing hospitality for many visitors, Eleanor also taught at Adams College as needed and tutored students who had special needs. Following their return to the U.S. Eleanor continued her work of hospitality, was active in volunteer work, including on the board of Church Women United in New Jersey, and filled various educational and administrative posts for the United Church Board for World Ministries on an interim basis. She was also an accomplished writer. She edited newsletters and prepared interpretive material for the cause with which she was involved, as well as writing a biography of James C. Bryant entitled First Saint to the Zulus. Eleanor Reuling died in 1983.

Guide to the John and Eleanor Reuling Papers
Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
1997, 2003
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

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