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Guide to the Shields Family Papers, 1888-1968 and undated

Abstract

Reverend Robert Shields, his wife Louise Shields, and members of their family were Methodist missionaries in Angola between the 1890s and the 1960s. The Shields Family Papers consist of correspondence, legal papers, and photographs created by three generations of a missionary family. The correspondence documents the experiences of a missionary family in Angola (Luanda and Malange) and Zimbabwe (including the Umtali region) in the early twentieth century, and includes letters written from family members in England, among them letters written from Greta Gazeley to her mother, Wilhelmina Shields Gazeley, in the 1950s. The photographs, dating from the early 1900s to the 1960s, portray the lives of missionaries in Africa through portraits and snapshots of the Shields family and other groups both European, American and African, as well as photographs of groups of schoolchildren, mission buildings, and various scenes of African life and landscapes. The collection includes a handwritten memoir by Robert Shields, a biographical account of Louise Raven Shield's life compiled by her daughter, Irene Withey Shields, and various writings by Irene Withey Shields and Wilhelmina Taylor Shields on their experiences in Africa. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University.

Descriptive Summary

Collection Number
RL.01176
Title
Shields Family papers
Date
1888-1968 and undated
Extent
2.7 Linear Feet, circa 1000 Items
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Material in English, Portuguese, Afrikaans

Collection Overview

The Shields Family Papers consist of correspondence, legal papers, and photographs created by three generations of a missionary family. The correspondence documents the experiences of a missionary family in Angola (Luanda and Malange) and Zimbabwe (including the Umtali region) in the early twentieth century. In 1903, Louise Shields brought her children to live in London and gave birth to Helen there; much of the correspondence is between Louise and Robert during this period of separation. Leaving her children in England to return to Angola, Louise received additional correspondence from the woman who took care of the children in her absence. Also included in the correspondence is a series of letters written by Greta Gazeley to her mother Wilhelmina Taylor Shields Gazeley in the 1950s. The legal papers in the collection consist of marriage certificates, copies of birth certificates, an immigration visa for Robert Shields, and US Army discharge papers for Robert Dodson Shields. In addition, the collection includes a handwritten memoir by Robert Shields, a biographical account of Louise Raven Shield's life compiled by her daughter, Irene Withey Shields, and various writings by Irene Withey Shields and Wilhelmina Taylor Shields on their experiences in Africa. Also included are Irene's and Wilhelmina's diplomas from the University of Cape Town.

The extensive collection of photographs, dating from the early 1900s to the 1960s, provide a portrait of the lives of missionaries in Africa. The majority are portraits and snapshots of the Shields family and other groups both European, American, and African, as well as photographs of groups of schoolchildren, mission buildings, and various scenes of African life and landscapes. Several of the family portraits were taken during the family's time in England. The collection contains one photograph of Bishop William Taylor and a young African boy. Also included are a number of picture postcards. With the exception of three photograph albums, the photographs are unsorted and the majority are undated.

Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University.

Restrictions on Access & Use

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warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Bibliographic information, 1936-1961
Box 1
Clippings, 1968 and undated
Box 1
Correspondence, 1903-1905, 1914-1936
(5 folders)
Box 1
Correspondence, Greta Gazeley, early days Rhodesia, 1954-1963
Box 1
Diplomas, 1929-1943
Box 5
Legal papers, Shields family, 1895-1961
Box 1
Memorabilia
Box 1
Embroidered cloth pocket
Box 1
Loose stamps
Box 1
Metal plaque
Box 1
Stamp album
Box 1
Photographs
General, undated
Box 2
Angola and England, circa 1900s-1960s
(2 folders)
Box 2
Early days Rhodesia, circa 1950s-1960s
(2 folders)
Box 2
Loose scrapbook pages, 1927 and undated
Box 2
Miscellaneous, circa 1900s-1930s
Box 2
Photograph album, School Days, 1920s
Box 2
Photograph album, circa 1926-1927

The album, compiled by “Meg” (Margaret Shields), pictures missionaries and Africans in Luanda, Quessua, and Malange, Angola and other locations, and conveys the "Americanization" of peoples.

Box 3
Photograph album, 1927 and undated
Box 4
Printed Material, 1961, 1991, and undated
Box 1
Irene Whithey Shields papers
Box 1
Biography of Louise Raven Shields, 1937
Box 1
Very Interesting Stories of Her Life as a Missionary in Angola, 1941-1960
Box 1
Robert Shields, memoir, undated
Box 1
Wilhelmina Shields papers
Box 1
Testimonials, 1928-1969
Box 1
Writings on African experience, 1923-1951
Box 1
Oversize Materials
Box 5
Bibliographical information
Box 5
Legal papers, Robert Shields, 1936
Box 5

Historical Note

Reverend Robert Shields, his wife Louise Shields, and members of their family were Methodist missionaries in Angola between the 1890s and the 1960s. Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Robert and Louise Shields went to Africa from Ireland and the United States, respectively, in the 1880s and 1890s as part of Bishop William Taylor's self-supporting missions. They worked as missionaries in Angola until 1936, and their children and grandchildren remained in Angola and Zimbabwe. Robert Shields, born in Ireland in 1866, moved to Angola as a missionary in 1887. There he married Lizzie Whiteside of Newry, Ireland in 1891. Lizzie died in 1895, and their son Wesley died at a young age. Shields remarried in 1895, to Louise Raven, who had moved from Chicago to join the mission in Angola. They worked in Quessua, Angola until 1902, when they moved to Luanda, Angola. Robert and Louise had five living children: Robert Dodson (born 1896), Irene Withey (born 1899), Margaret Louise (born 1902), Helen Augusta (born 1903), and Wilhelmina Taylor (born 1905). They also had a daughter, Suzanna, who died at three months from malaria.

Chronology List

Date Event(s)
May 21, 1866 Robert Shields is born in Ireland.
1887 Robert Shields goes to Angola as a missionary.
1891 Robert Shields marries Lizzie Whiteside, of Newry, Ireland, in Angola.
1895 Lizzie Whiteside dies.
November 10, 1895 Robert Shields marries fellow missionary Louise Raven (from Chicago)
September 24, 1896 Robert Dodson Shields born.
October 5, 1899 Irene Withey Shields born.
1902 Shields family moves to Luanda, Angola
1902 Margaret Louise Shields born.
1902/1903 Louise, Robert Dodson, Irene and Margaret travel to England.
September 3, 1903 Helen Augusta Shields born.
October 1903 Louise returns to Angola.
September 15, 1905 Wilhelmina Taylor Shields born.
1906 Robert and Louise travel to England and Ireland on furlough.
1912 Robert and Louise visit their children in England on furlough.
1919 Robert and Louise visit their children in England and the United States on furlough.
1920 Robert and Louise return to Angola with Irene and Wilhelmina. Margaret and Helen remain in the United States at DePauw University.
1927 Robert and Louise travel to England on furlough.
1929 Wilhelmina Taylor Shields begins work as a teacher in Zimbabwe.
1935 Robert and Louise retire from missionary work, travel to South Africa and England.
April 17, 1936 Robert dies in London after an operation for an abscessed appendix.
December 15, 1936 Louise dies in Bermuda, where she had moved to live with her daughter Margaret.
July 15, 1938 Wilhelmina Taylor Shields marries George Gazeley.

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • George Arthur Roberts family papers, 1884-1970s and n.d., bulk 1907-1950s (Missionary Papers) (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Shields Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Shields Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1999 and 2005.

Processing Information

Processed by Willeke Sandler, May 2012

Encoded by Willeke Sandler and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, May 2012

Accessions 1999-0423 and 2005-0047 were merged to form one collection described in this finding aid.