Billy Graham Center

Interview of Teresa Jane Leasor - Collection 125

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

Since we are migrating our website to a new platform, we will no longer be updating this earlier version our site. Please visit our Archon database for online guide descriptions. In early 2018, look for our new site, currently under construction, linked in the BGC Archives section on the Library and Archives page. (12/11/2017)

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Jane (Teresa) Leasor

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Audio recording and transcript for T1

Audio recording and transcript for T2

Brief Description.
This collection consists of two oral history tapes in which Leasor describes, among other topics, her post-graduate education at Biblical Seminary in New York City; teaching at a secondary school for girls and a college for women in Beirut, Lebanon; the Arabic language; Islam; the place of women in Islam society; and the relationship between various Christian churches in Lebanon. Interviews were recorded in May and September 1982. These interviews are a part of the Missionary Sources Collection.

Collection 125
[February 25, 2000]
(Teresa) Leasor, Jane; 1922-2009
Interviews; 1982

2 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Jane Leasor was born August 10, 1922, in Portsmouth, Ohio. After her father's death, her mother married again, to Will MacDonald of Wheaton, Illinois. She attended Wheaton Academy from 1936 to 1940 and Wheaton College from 1940 to 1944, from which she graduated with an A.B. degree in music. After Wheaton, she attended Biblical Seminary in New York City, where she received her master's degree in religious education in 1952. For the next two years, she taught at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. She was then accepted by the Presbyterian USA mission board and assigned to the position of teacher of Bible and music at the American College of Women in Beirut, Lebanon.

After a brief period of orientation, Leasor sailed for Lebanon in August of 1954. For a year she taught in a secondary school for girls attached to the College of Women and than taught at the College itself. During the summer of 1956, she attended a seminar for theological students at the Ecumenical Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. The next summer she spent on furlough in Wheaton. In 1959, she returned to the United States because of the serious illness of her mother. After working briefly at the consulate of the United Arab Republic in Chicago, she returned to Wheaton as secretary to Wheaton President V. Raymond Edman. From 1961 to 1964, she was Director of Community Services and Student Life at Biblical seminary in New York. She then went to Columbia University, where she was a student counselor. At the same time, she attended New York University, from which she received her Ph.D. in 1968. In 1980, she returned to Beirut to Beirut University College (formerly the American College for Women). However, after about two years, she had to return to the United States because of illness, and she settled in Wheaton. Leasor died in 2009.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of two interviews recorded with Miss Leasor by Robert Shuster, which were recorded May 24 and September 7, 1982. There was an earlier tape recorded May 21 which unfortunately, because of technical difficulties, was not usable. Leasor talked about her days at Biblical Seminary and her work in Lebanon from 1944 to 1959. This index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape 1 (97 minutes)
Beginning of tape
Attendance at Biblical Seminary; courses taken; history of the Seminary
Benefits from attending seminary
Memorable professors; Dean McKee
Teaching in Mississippi at Belhaven College
Becoming a Presbyterian missionary in Lebanon
Reason for becoming a missionary
Presbyterian methods of evaluating mission candidates
"First year teachers are scared to death"
Evaluation of her preparation to be a teacher outside the United States
The necessity of learning Arabic from the people who speak it
The difficulties of learning Arabic; the characteristics of spoken Arabic; speaking Arabic with a southern accent
Comparison of classical and spoken Arabic
Formal preparation for work in Lebanon; linguistic studies with Canon Max Warren
Traveling to Lebanon in 1955 on a Norwegian freighter with Jane Miller; routes for traveling to Lebanon
Salaries of Presbyterian missionaries
Landing at Beirut; first impression of Beirut. "The most beautiful port in the world"
Adapting to new environment; enchantment with Lebanon
Picnics by the Mediterranean Sea
The staff of the College for Women; the student body
History and reputation of the College in the Islamic world; education for women in the Middle East
Current (1982) curriculum and status of College
Leasor's one year teaching at the American School for Girls in Lebanon
Arabian schoolgirls compared with American schoolgirls; attitudes toward democracy; the need for control in classrooms
Formality of students toward their teacher
Career ambitions of the students at the American School for Girls
The first girls from the Arabian peninsula who were allowed to attend the school
Objections of Arabian parents to their daughters being nurses
The high social class of the students; reasons why parents sent their daughters to the school
Islamic marriage and divorce patterns; no equivalent to American feminist movement
Jewish students at school; the pattern of benevolent Arab-Jewish relations in the past
Tensions in the 1950s between Arab countries and Israel
Attitudes of Jews in Lebanon toward Israel
The characteristics of Islam; Mohammed
First impression of Islam; attitudes of Muslims toward Jews and Christians; simplicity of Islam
Total influence of Islam on Arab society; the administration of alms by the government; the pilgrimage to Mecca; the holy war
Comparison and contrast of Islam and Christianity
The call to prayer from the minaret
Impressions by Americans of Islam; Arab Christians
Impressions by Americans of the Arab world in 1959
Lack of interest in Lebanon on the part of Americans in 1959
Lebanese attitudes toward the United States in 1959
End of tape

Tape 2 (96 minutes)
Beginning of tape
Condition of the Christian Church in Lebanon; the situation of a Christian community in a Muslim nation
Restrictions on Christian missions in Lebanon; restrictions at educational institutions
Hospitals as centers of evangelization
"Small as the congregation in a Protestant Church"
Varieties of Christian churches in Lebanon: Greek Catholic, Maronite, Greek Orthodox
Visits to the West Bank of the Jordan in the 1950s
Celebration of Eastern Orthodox Christmas rites in Jerusalem compared with American Protestant rites
Worship services in Orthodox churches
The Syrian Jacobite Church; the Aramaic language; the Coptic Church in Ethiopia
Contacts with the Armenian church; separateness of the Armenian community
Armenian wedding ceremonies
The Chaldean theology
Characteristics of the Maronite church; devotion of Maronites to their church
Main emphasis in the Maronite church
Maronite and Protestant relations; conversions from Islam
The Melkite church
The Near East Council of Churches; its activities in publishing, conferences
Dr. Harold Doorman, Chairman of the Council
Unity among most missionary groups in Lebanon; mission groups involved in Lebanon; American dominance on Near East Council of Churches
Christmas service at the American University in Beirut
Muslim attitudes toward Christmas and Easter
Lack of convents in Middle East; the role of women in Eastern churches
Difference between the Christian and Muslim women; the veil
Muslim and Christian attitudes toward women
Lack of interest among young people of Maronite church
End of tape

The tapes in this collection were received from Miss Jane Leasor in May and September 1982.
Accession 82-76, 82-128
March 7, 1984
Robert Shuster
J. Nasgowitz

Accession 82-76, 82-128
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE. Request by the Tape number at the beginning of each entry below.

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 96 minutes. One side. Oral history interview with Jane Leasor. Recorded May 24, 1982.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 96 minutes. One side. Oral history interview with Jane Leasor. Recorded September 7, 1982.

Send us a message
Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 2/23/17
Expiration: indefinite