Billy Graham Center

Interview of Margaret Johanna (Larson) Carlson - Collection 263

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Margaret Johanna (Larson) Carlson

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

List Audio Tapes, Books in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes


Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Brief Description.
Two oral history interviews with Mrs. Carlson in which she describes her childhood as a missionary kid in Ecuador, her education at Westmont and Wheaton Colleges, her nursing experience, and the missionary work she and her husband, Robert, did in Hong Kong at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Seminary there. The interviews were recorded on 11/2/83 and 11/9/83. For more information, please see guide.
Vol: 2 Reels of Audio Tapes

[May 9, 2000]
Collection 263
Carlson, Margaret Johanna Larson; 1927-
Interviews; 1983

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Margaret Johanna Larson, nicknamed Peggy Jo, was born in Quito, Ecuador, to missionaries Reuben and Grace Larson. Much of her childhood was spent in the jungles along the Amazon river where her parents had a trading post that helped to support their mission work. Later she helped out at HCJB, a missionary shortwave radio station which her father helped found, along with Clarence Jones. Besides the education she received at a school for missionary children in Ecuador, she also attended high school in the United States during her parents' furloughs. As a teenager, she also worked briefly for the military attache of the United States Embassy. In 1946 she returned to the United States to attend Westmont College, a school her older brother Richard was also attending. Because of her decision to be a nurse, she transferred in 1947 to the nursing program of West Suburban Hospital in Illinois, a program affiliated with Wheaton College. In 1950 she graduated from West Suburban as a Registered Nurse. A year later she graduated from Wheaton with a Bachelor of Science degree. The next year she married Robert Dean Carlson, also a Wheaton graduate and longtime friend of Margaret and the Larson family.

The Carlson's intended eventually to go into missionary service. However, shortly after their marriage Robert was drafted and was sent to the Far East. Margaret, with their baby, Roberta Joan, returned to Ecuador, where both the Larsons and Robert's parents, the Carlsons, were working. For two years she worked at the United States embassy.

After Robert returned from the service, the Carlsons went back to Wheaton, where he earned an MA in Biblical literature in 1957. Margaret in the meantime had worked in the College infirmary. They continued at the College, where Robert taught Greek. They had two more children, Eric and Ted.

In 1960, Robert and Margaret heard about an opening at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Seminary in Hong Kong for a professor of Greek. They applied to the CMA to become missionaries and were accepted. In August, the family left the United States. While Robert taught at the school, Margaret again served as school nurse. The couple had a fourth child in 1964, Carol Grace. The family returned to the United States in 1968, where Robert became a surveyor in Wheaton and Margaret an assistant to the head of the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program at Wheaton College.

Scope and Content

Margaret Carlson was interviewed on November 2 and 9, 1983, by student Esther Braly in the offices of the Billy Graham Center. She gave a brief account of her life, covering the years from 1927 to 1968. Listed below are the topics covered in the interview. Time elapsed from the beginning of the tape is recorded in the left column, topics are in the right column. This index is geared to the cassette copy, not the reel-to-reel original.

T1 - Side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)

00:00 Start of tape
01:40 Introduction
02:15 Birth in a mission home in Quito, Ecuador
02:40 Pioneer missionary work of parents among Indians in Andes mission; a self-sufficient hacienda and trading post as a mission base
05:45 The pleasures of growing up as a child in the jungle; parakeets and monkeys; living off the land
07:45 First memories of the United States on furlough visits; baptism in St. Paul, MN.
11:20 Learning Bible verses from her grandmother
12:05 Children in Ecuador and children in the United States
13:15 Life in the CMA boarding school in Ecuador; adjusting to life at the school as a five year old; visits from parents
17:40 A minor ruckus at the school and a tanning; punishment
21:05 The refinement of the home in the jungle; contacts with government officials; government posts held by her father
24:20 Parents' first interest in radio for evangelism; the Jones brothers and the start of radio station HCJB; getting the approval of the Ecuadorian government
26:30 Involvement of CMA in the work of HCJB
27:10 The impact of the radio station of Christian work in Ecuador; relationship with the government; influence of the station in different parts of the world; deputation work of her father in Sweden
29:35 Deputation trip by car through Colombia and Central America as a teenager; roads and driving in Colombia; travel through Panama; Guatemala; factors common to Latin American countries
32:25 Attending a high school in the United States; fitting in; attitudes toward foreigners in Ecuador
36:25 Effect of brother going away to college; work at radio station
37:50 Working at secretary to the military attache at the United States embassy
38:50 Relations between the embassy staff and the Ecuadorian people; attitudes toward the Ecuadorians as second-class people; the staff car problem
42:55 Experiences gained by working at the embassy; a cocktail party; the appallingness of drunkenness
45:00 End of Side 1

T1 - Side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap of side one
00:45 Growing up as an American in Ecuador; graciousness of Ecuadorian society; the visit of the president of Ecuador to the HCJB station
03:15 Enjoyment of being a missionary kid; relationship with mother after growing up
05:20 Attending Westmont College; contact with V. Raymond Edman in Ecuador; near fatal illness of Edman; attractions of Westmont over Wheaton
08:40 Social adjustments necessary for a freshman in college; social differences between Ecuador and the United States; dating and other activities; the campus of Westmont
11:25 Interest in nursing; reason for transferring to Wheaton; the nursing program at Wheaton
13:35 Contacts between the student nurses at West Suburban Hospital and the students on Wheaton campus
15:00 Edman's support and affection for the nursing program
15:20 Cyril Luckman; Jean Kline; experiences as a nurse in a mental ward
18:20 Kenneth Kantzer; Dr. Simpson
18:55 Spanish Club; International Club; the literary societies
19:55 Activities of the Foreign Mission Fellowship; prayer groups
20:45 Spiritual atmosphere on Wheaton campus
21:20 Meeting her future husband, Robert Carlson; return to Ecuador after marriage while Robert was in the service
22:55 Lessons learned from the separation
26:10 Life at Wheaton as a married couple after Bob returned to go to graduate school; sources of income
29:05 Work in the college infirmary; a case of mumps
21:25 A continuing missions perspective; Bob's linguistics studies
23:10 End of interview

T2 - Side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)

00:00 Start of tape
01:50 Introduction
02:20 The near slavery status of Indians in Ecuador during Carlson's childhood; the economic basis of feudal relations between Indians and whites in the jungle; resentment of the Larsons by whites who maintained the old systems; restrictions on the Indians right to marry
08:00 The Larsons' commitment to living the Gospel and to social equality; reactions of the Indians; the first self-supporting Ecuadorian evangelical church; beginning of the work to the Auca Indians
11:15 How her childhood background affected her
11:50 Decision to go to Hong Kong as missionaries; Alliance's policy on accepting missionaries; reasons for the Carlson's acceptance as missionaries
14:20 Goals of the Christian and Missionary Alliance
15:30 The situation for missionaries in Hong Kong; activities of the Alliance in Hong Kong
17:00 The Christian and Missionary Alliance Seminary; the students; Bob's Mandarin
18:30 Preparation for Hong Kong work; reactions of family and friends
20:35 Culture shock on reaching Hong Kong; lack of hot water; water shortage; moving into a new home
23:00 Life in Kowloon; communication difficulties
27:40 Differences between cultures in Hong Kong and the United States; "I saw myself as a barbarian." Antiquity of Chinese civilization; courtesy
29:30 Differences between Hong Kong culture and Ecuador culture; religious background
30:50 Pragmatism of the Chinese people; social Christians in Hong Kong; Chinese practice of mixing religions
31:40 A Catholic mass and Taoist funeral for a Chinese Peruvian millionaire
34:50 Lack of space in Hong Kong; difference between Hong Kong and Taiwan; land reclamation projects; fiscal responsibility of Hong Kong government
39:00 Adjustment of Roberta to school in Hong Kong; effect Margaret's own missionary upbringing had on rearing her own children; Roberta's experience with boarding school
45:00 End of Side 1

T2 - Side 2

00:00 Beginning of side two
00:05 Overlap of side one
00:30 Margaret's pregnancy in Hong Kong
02:55 Responsibilities as a nurse at the seminary; Chinese attitudes toward medicine; demand for nursing service
05:20 Physical layout of Hong Kong; transportation between islands
07:25 Opportunities to share Christ; Sunday school classes; effect of being a foreigner
09:25 Cooperation between mission boards; indigenous churches
10:55 Beginning of the Cultural Revolution in mainland China; contacts with mainland Christians; effects of the Cultural Revolution on Hong Kong
13:55 Varying standards of living in Hong Kong
15:00 Industry in Hong Kong; import of food products
15:45 Relatively little American influence in Hong Kong
16:45 Effect of typhoons and floods on the poorest people of Hong Kong; living through a typhoon; Christian relief work
20:05 Leaving Hong Kong; desire to return; readjustment to life in the United States
22:25 Declining role for Westerners in mission work in Hong Kong; large population in Hong Kong
23:35 Work for the HNGR program at Wheaton; awareness of the differences and similarities between different cultures
25:40 Conclusion;
27:00 End interview

The tapes in this collection were received by the Center in November, 1983.

Accession #83-126, 83-129

August 28, 1985
Robert Shuster
E. Braly
J. Nasgowitz

Accession: 83-126, 83-129
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The tapes listed below are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 75 minutes. Recorded on one side only. Interview of Margaret Carlson by Esther Braly. Carlson talks mainly about growing up as a missionary kid in Ecuador, the early days of radio station HCJB, her education at Wheaton College. November 2, 1983.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 75 minutes. Recorded on one side only. Interview of Margaret Carlson by Esther Braly. Carlson talks mainly about her work in Hong Kong, life in that colony, and the contrast between American and Chinese culture. November 9, 1983.

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