Billy Graham Center

Papers of Berea St. John Feiner - Collection 202

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions


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

Other Information That Might Be Helpful To Anyone Using This Collection

Lists of Books and Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)


Brief Description.
Varied collection of mission-related items documenting work in China, India, and Nigeria ca. 1890-1940; prison evangelism, women's topics. For more information, please see guide.
Vol: 1 box, Photographs

Collection 202
[April 20, 2009]
Feiner, Berea St. John; 1909-2005
Papers; 1834-1973
1 Box (DC; .4 cubic feet), Photographs


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Berea Edith St. John was born in Denver, Colorado, on October 4, 1909, one of four children born to Farnum and Jennie Patterson St. John. Her father was an attorney-turned-Baptist-minister, and his family had a long tradition of interest in mission work. Berea received her B.A. from the University of Denver in 1931, and an M.A. (Psychiatric Specialty) from the same institution's School of Social Work in 1939. She did further graduate work at the University of Southern California, UCLA, Los Angeles Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Southern California Institute for Psychoanalytic Medicine. She was a licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a licensed Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist.

From 1931 to 1932, Berea worked at the Baptist Christian Center under the direction of the American Baptist Home Missions Society (ABHMS). In 1934, she was supervisor of a Social Survey of Delinquent Areas for the ABHMS, and in 1939 was employed by the WPA as supervisor of case reviews in a seventeen-county area of Colorado. All through this period, she also did free-lance journalism. In 1939, she moved to California, where she was Director of Social Work at the Van Nuys McKinley Home for Boys, 1939-1950. From 1950 to 1970, she worked for the Los Angeles Public Schools as a Psychiatric Social Worker and Mental Health Consultant. For part of that time, she also carried on private practice as a psychotherapist and church counselor.

Berea St. John was married March 17, 1967, to Virgil Leon Feiner, who was born July 28, 1914. The Feiners were members of the West Hollywood Baptist Church, and Berea sat on the Board of the World Bible Study Fellowship. Her articles appeared in The Sunday School Times, Eternity, The Evangelical Christian, The Jail Evangelist, The Social Science Quarterly, and Mental Hygiene. In 1982, the Feiners made their home in Los Angeles. Berea died February 21, 2005.

Scope and Content

[NOTE: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "folder 1-1" means box 1, folder 1.]

The Feiner Papers are an eclectic assemblage of material from a broad base of sources, touching on a wide variety of missionary endeavors over a span of 140 years. Mrs. Feiner included many notes of explanation with individual items, and these have been filed with those items. The core of the collection is missionary stories written by Mrs. Feiner, primarily in the 1930s. Folder 1-10 contains notes, rough drafts, final drafts, and published articles concerning the Sudan Interior Mission work of Harold L. and Viola Ogilvie in Nigeria. This folder also has twelve pages of manuscript notes concerning the grammatical structure of the Iregwe language, as dictated to her by Ogilvie. Folder 1-13 has a 1936 letter from Ogilvie, a 1933 letter from Rowland V. Bingham, general director of the SIM, and a SIM tract sent to Mrs. Feiner by the mission. Bingham is further documented in an article by J. Herbert Kane about him, dated 1973 (folder 1-5). Folder 1-9 consists of two articles, in rough and final drafts, concerning the work of Rev. and Mrs. William Dring, appointees of the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society in Assam, 1890-1911, where they ministered to the Garo tribe. These articles were written in 1933, when Mrs. Feiner interviewed the Drings, then in retirement in Colorado.

Miscellaneous articles by Mrs. Feiner include "Acinge," concerning the Miango, Nigeria, area (folder 1-7); "Winging the Word Over Prison Walls," about the prison evangelism work of Josephine Wang in Los Angeles (folder 1-8); and articles (all from the 1930s) about evangelism among Navajo Indians, evangelism opportunities created by the Great Depression, Colorado prison evangelism, and Gideons placing Bibles in Colorado public schools (folder 1-11). Some of Mrs. Feiner's articles appeared in The Jail Evangelist, The Evangelical Christian, and The Sunday School Times.

China missions is the topic of several folders. Letters in folder 1-6 were written by James and Sarah St. John, father and step-mother of missionary Lucy Ann Knowlton (see the St. John genealogy page in this guide) in 1862, commenting briefly on their daughter, but more on Michigan's participation in the Civil War. A 1902 letter of Lucy Ann's, also in the folder, contains family news, but nothing regarding missions. A photograph of Lucy Ann, taken in the 1860s, shows her surrounded by Chinese memorabilia. Folder 1-14 is a pamphlet authored by J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission. Folder 1-2 contains several bits of documentation about Allen Noah and Jennie Cameron, who were totally supported by the Galilee Baptist Church of Denver, Colorado, in their mission work in Changsha, Hunan Province, China. Included in this folder are a printed letter from the Camerons, dated 1905; a coal bill (printing and manuscript on rice paper) in Chinese, presented to the mission; a bookmark printed in the mission printshop; and embroidery work done by girls at the mission orphanage. Allen Cameron was with J. Hudson Taylor on the day of Taylor's death. Mrs. Cameron returned to the United States because of her health and died here. Mr. Cameron remained in China and, being wholly absorbed into Chinese culture, grew a queue and adopted native dress. He died in Changsha sometime after 1936.

Miscellaneous materials on missions include a lengthy 1834 letter (folder 1-4) from Samuel S. Day to Sarah M. Jordan (later Mrs. James St. John) in response to her desire to serve on the mission field, discussing the perseverance of the saints, special difficulties encountered by female missionaries, and Day's own preparation for the mission field (Day became a missionary to India). There is also a letter (folder 1-1) between corresponding secretaries of two Baptist Female Missionary Societies in New York, dated 1835, concerning what those at home can do to support foreign missionaries. Folder 1-3 contains an expiration notice, 1896, of the David C. Cook Publishing Company, listing all their available Sunday school materials. See the Photograph Location Record in this guide for a photo of Navigator founder Dawson Trotman's home in Long Beach, California, 1935. A detailed explanation of the photo is filed with it. Folder 1-12 contains an 1838 letter of James St. John to his fiancee Sarah Jordan, in which he chastises himself for not answering God's call to the ministry.


The materials in this collection were given to the Archives by Mrs. Feiner between June, 1981, and April, 1982. The correspondence in folders 1-1, 1-4, 1-6, and 1-12 are typed transcripts of originals sold by Mrs. Feiner to a California manuscript dealer in 1980.

Accession: 81-61, 81-66, 81-85, 81-93, 81-101, 81-108, 81-114, 81-125, 81-136, 82-1, 82-23, 82-48

May 26, 1982
Galen R. Wilson
J. Nasgowitz


1. JAMES ST. JOHN (b. April 11, 1800 d. October, 1882) married twice. By his first wife, he had children:
2. LUCY ANN (b. ca. 1830 d. after 1902) married 1852/53 Miles J. KNOWLTON (b. February 8, 1824 d. 1874). They were missionaries to Ningpo, China, from 1853 to his death in 1874. One child: Antha. See Hervey's The Story of Baptist Missions (1884), page 517.
2. SYLVESTER (d. after 1902).
In 1838, JAMES ST. JOHN married second, SARAH M. JORDAN, by whom he had seven or eight children, including:
2. GARLAND (eldest child), served with Michigan in the Civil War.
2. SPENCER (b. December 27, 1847 d. December 26, 1938) married Helen STRONG (b. March 19, 1847 d. 1913).
3. FARNUM (b. March 16, 1876 d. September 2, 1942) married Jennie PATTERSON (b. November 22, 1879 d. January 3. 1971).
4. BEREA EDITH (b. October 4, 1909 married March 17, 1967, Virgil Leon FEINER (b. July 28, 1914).

Accession: 81-61, 81-66, 81-93, 82-48
Type of material: Photographs

The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE. Request by the boldfaced folder title at the beginning of each entry below.

CHINA MISSIONS. Allen Noah Cameron, with Rev. and Mrs. Edward B. Hart, 1937, and the Hart family alone. Orphanage boys and girls from Changsha, 1933-1934. 6 b&w.

KNOWLTON, LUCY ANN. Lucy Ann St. John Knowlton, China missionary, ca. 1860-1865. Antha Knowlton Miller, daughter of Miles J. and Lucy A. Knowlton, ca. 1900. Sarah Emily Jordan St. John, step-mother of Lucy Ann Knowlton. 4 b&w.

NIGERIA. Dye pits near Miango in Nigeria. Harold and Viola Ogilvie, missionaries to Nigeria. Sudan Interior Mission station in Nigeria, with conference participants, ca. 1930s. 3 b&w.

TROTMAN, DAWSON. Dawson Trotman, with his residence in Long Beach, California, 1936. 1 b&w.

Box Folder Item
1 1 Baptist Female Missionary Society (Lawrenceville, NY) correspondence; 1835
1 2 Cameron, Allen Noah. China mission ephemera; 1905-ca. 1930
1 3 David C. Cook Publishing Company, expiration notice; 1896
1 4 Day, Samuel S.--correspondence; 1834
1 5 Kane, J. Herbert. Article on Rowland Bingham; 1973
1 6 Knowlton, Lucy Ann. Correspondence; 1862, 1902
St. John, Berea
1 7 Article, "Acinge"; n.d.
1 8 Article, "Winging the Word over Prison Walls"; 1948
1 9 Articles: William Dring; 1933, 1942
1 10 Articles and notes: Harold L. Ogilvie; 1933-1938
1 11 Miscellaneous articles; 1938-1939
1 12 Correspondence; 1838
1 13 Sudan Interior Mission. Correspondence; 1933-1936
1 14 Taylor, James Hudson. "Separation and Service"; n.d.

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