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Johanna Veenstra Collection



Biographical Note

Detailed Description

[General Materials]


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Johanna Veenstra Collection, 1917-2007 | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

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Collection Overview

Title: Johanna Veenstra Collection, 1917-2007

ID: COLL/306

Primary Creator: Veenstra, Johanna (1894-1933)

Extent: 2.65 Cubic Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: Folder level description


Missionary with the Sudan United Missions, Africa. The collection includes photographs, family history, artifacts, and letters written to friends and to Christian Reformed Church societies detailing Nigerian missionary life.

Biographical Note

Johanna Veenstra was born on April 19, 1894 in Paterson, New Jersey. Veenstra attended school as well as received training from a business college. At the age of 14, she commuted to New York City for work as a secretary.  Even though she was earning good money and received a promotion, she still felt a longing for something more. One Sunday at the Second CRC in Paterson, she made her public confession of faith.  She became determined that her purpose in life was to become a missionary. She promptly became involved with mission projects, and enrolled in the Union Missionary Training Institute. She graduated from the Institute as valedictorian.

At the age of 20, Veenstra wanted to travel to Africa to begin her missionary work, however there was an age requirement of 25. In the meantime, she studied Reformed Doctrine at Calvin College, took practical medicine classes at Bellevue Hospital, and worked with the Paterson Hebrew Mission.  In October of 1919, Veenstra finally got to set sail for Africa. With a stop in England, Veenstra boarded another boat for Nigeria. It wasn't until January 20, 1920 that she was able to set foot on Africa's soil. Veenstra still had a long trip ahead of her, 300 miles inland.  Veenstra travelled once again by boat then by bicycle to her new home of Takum.

Once she settled in her village, Veenstra found that life wasn't any easier. Veenstra had to boil the water before drinking it, and wore boots so she wouldn't get bitten by poisonous snakes and scorpions. She also had to learn a completely new language to communicate with the native people. Even with all the dangers, Veenstra was determined to spread the gospel.

In 1921 Veenstra was assigned the new task of opening a new post at Lupwe. New grass huts needed to be built as well as a new school. When the only male missionary became sick, it was up to Veenstra and her helper, Miss Haigh, to carry on the mission. The two women continued to preach to the villages of the surrounding villages on their own. After two years, Veenstra's left Nigeria for home on furlough. Once back in the United States, Veenstra spoke to churches about her mission work. Veenstra was anxious to return to Nigeria. Once she returned, she opened a boarding school and a dispensary. Over next few years she expanded the school, the clinic, and organized a church for the converted. In April of 1933, Veenstra was struck with appendicitis. Although she had a successful operation, she still passed away on April 9, 1933. She was buried in Nigeria.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: [General Materials]],
[Series 2: Photographs],

Series 1: [General Materials]
Box 1
Folder 1-5: Correspondence --- 1917-1933
Folder 6: Correspondence --- undated
Folder 7: Letters, photocopies, Banner and Missionary Monthly --- 1919-1933
Folder 8: Index to letters written in Banner and Missionary Monthly --- 1919-1933
Folder 9: Condolences to Johanna's mother --- 1933-1934
Folder 10: Correspondence, Johanna's mother --- 1935-1936
Folder 11: Correspondence re: Collection --- 1962-1983
Folder 12: Family history, Johanna's mother, ca. --- 1933
Folder 13: Family history, Y. C. Spyksma and H. Brouwer --- 1962-1967
Folder 14: Paper, 1915; Reformed Doctrine exams --- 1916, 1917
Folder 15: Pocket notes --- undated
Folder 16: Notes --- undated
Folder 17: Memorial Service program --- 1933
Folder 18: Design for gravestone --- 1933
Folder 19: Diary excerpts (October 1, 1919 - February 23, 1920) given to P. Stam --- April 16, 1935
Folder 20
Item 1: Correspondence: Faye Latome (Schaddelee), 1928-1933 and 2007; and photographs --- 1931, 1932, and undated
Item 2: Photographs --- 1931-1932, and undated
Box 2
Folder 1: Scrapbook, mission related clippings --- 1919
Folder 2: Booklet, A Memorial Tribute to Miss Johanna Veenstra: Missionary to the Dzompere Tribes of the Sudan United Mission, (cover title: In Loving Memory) [HERH BV3625.S8 V43] --- 1933
Folder 3: The First Annual Report of the Female, Bible, Missionary and Tract Society of New- Utrecht --- 1826
Folder 4: Devotional book (annotated) --- 1919
Folder 5: Hausa Grammar Notes by J. L. Maxwell --- undated
Box 3
Folder 1: Bible belonging to Johanna Veenstra
Folder 2: Medical book used by Johanna
Folder 3: Johanna Veenstra by Winifred M. Pearce [HERH BV3625.S812 V44] --- 1958
Box 4
Folder 1: Indexed Testament in memory of Johanna --- 1933
Folder 2: Index - Missionary Monthly, subject: Christian Reformed Church and Nigeria --- 1922-1969
Folder 3: Missionary reports, articles, brochure
Folder 4: Brochure --- 1970
Folder 5: Johanna Veenstra, Banner articles [4] by S. Haan --- 1975
Folder 6: The Story of Johanna Veenstra - Banner articles [25] by M. M. Schoolland --- 1979
Folder 7: Photographs, Johanna
Folder 8: Photographs, Union Missionary Training School, Brooklyn, New York
Folder 9: Photograph, Paterson Hebrew Mission
Folder 10: Photograph, SUM Conference, Ibi
Folder 11: Photographs, Johanna and missionaries
Folder 12: Photographs --- 1932
Folder 13: Photographs, Africans at Acha and Takum
Folder 14: Photographs, African personnel
Folder 15: Photographs, Mai -Yaki, Johanna's mailman
Folder 16: Photographs, Africans --- undated
Folder 17: Photographs, dwellings
Folder 18: Clippings
Folder 19: Stamps and envelopes [vault]
Folder 20: Speech of appeal for missions
Folder 21: Memorial address
Folder 22: Speaking appointment record
Folder 23: Correspondence re: remembering Johanna Veenstra in the mission field
Box 5: Artifacts
Item 1: shoes
Item 2: two purses
Item 3: coin purse
Item 4: three belts
Item 5: eye makeup/ medicine holder
Item 6: napkin ring
Item 7: loin girdle ("given by Johanna Veenstra, the first year she came home on furlough" - Delia)

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: [General Materials]],
[Series 2: Photographs],

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