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William Henricks Wiser and Charlotte Viall Wiser Papers

Call Number: RG 128

Scope and Contents

This collection provides valuable documentation of Presbyterian mission activity in North India. Much of of the correspondence, writings, diaries and printed material is related to rural India and the efforts of missionaries like the Wisers to improve the quality of village life.

As an avocation, William Wiser collected Indian folklore stories and songs. These stories and songs were told to native clerks who transcribed them in devanagari script. These transcripts were then copied in romanized Hindi, and finally translated into English.

Charlotte Wiser's active life as a woman missionary in rural India is well documented.

The first addendum (2010) includes material that Prof. Susan S. Wadley of Syracuse University used in her research regarding north India.

The second addendum (2104), which overlaps significantly with the early collection, provides additional documentation, particularly of the life and writings of Charlotte Wiser, and valuable early photographs and slides of India.

The series structure of the original collection has been changed to reflect the substantial additions.


  • 1836-2000


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1924-1976
  2. II. Material related to India Village Service, 1934-1959
  3. III. Material related to Indian folklore, n.d.
  4. IV. Writings, 1836-1970s
  5. V. Indian language material, n.d.
  6. VI. Diaries and notebooks, 1912-1977
  7. VII. Collected Material, 1877-1979
  8. VIII. Biographical Documentation, 1915-1981, n.d.
  9. IX. Audio-visual Material, 1913-1970s


13 Linear Feet (32 boxes + 1 portfolio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


William and Charlotte Wiser were Presbyterian missionaries in North India, appointed in 1915, and were active in the development of India Village Service, a demonstration project for the improvement of village life. These papers document the work of the Wisers in North India, particularly their involvement in rural reconstruction and their interest in Indian folklore.

Biographical / Historical

William Henricks Wiser was born in Pennsylvania in 1890. He went to India under the auspices of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1915 after his graduation from the University of Chicago. Charlotte Viall joined him in India and they were married in Allahabad. William Wiser served on the staff of the Allahabad Agricultural Institute and as professor of rural sociology at the North India Theological College, Saharanpur. He also directed students in practical work in nearby villages. Charlotte Wiser also taught courses at the Allahabad Agricultural Institute.

Charlotte was born at Chicago, Illinois in 1892, and graduated from University of Chicago. She was sent as a Presbyterian missionary to India in 1916. She married William H. Wiser and they had three sons — Arthur, Alfred, and Edward. During their first term the Wisers were based in in Allahabad. During their second term(1925-1930), they worked in Mainpuri, and lived in the village of Karimpur, near Agra.

While on furlough in 1933, William Wiser completed a Ph.D. in rural social organization at Cornell University. Charlotte Wiser received a M.S. degree in nutrition from Cornell.

From 1945 to 1960 the Wisers were instrumental in the formation and direction of India Village Service, a demonstration project for the improvement of village life. William Wiser died in 1961 and Charlotte Wiser returned from India in 1970. Charlotte Wiser died in December 1981.

Guide to the William Henricks Wiser and Charlotte Viall Wiser Papers
1997, 2010, 2014
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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