Billy Graham Center

Interview with Gladys Lyle Wright - Collection 284

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Gladys Lyle Wright

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Audio file and written transcript for T1

Audio file and written transcript for T2

Audio file and written transcript for T3

Brief Description.

Tapes of two oral history interviews in which Wright discusses her family, education at Wheaton College and Moody Bible Institute, her work as a missionary in the Belgian Congo (now Zaire) for the Africa Inland Mission, memories of the Congolese people and culture, and her experiences at Wheaton when she was on the staff of the College.

Collection 284 [September 25, 2008]
Wright, Gladys Lyle; 1902-1994
Interviews; 1984

3 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Gladys Lyle Wright was born July 19, 1902, the daughter of Raymond W. and Katherine Bughee Wright of Deep River, Connecticut. In 1920 she began attending Middlebury College in Vermont. Her father died while she was a freshman. In 1922 she transferred to Wheaton College. She graduated with an A.B. in English in 1924. She then attended Moody Bible Institute from September 1926 until July 1927. After attending Moody, she joined the Africa Inland Mission and was sent to Aba in the Belgian Congo in 1929. She lived there five years, during which she ran a school for young Christian girls. Poor health forced her return to the United States in 1934.

After recovering her health, she taught for a while in South Carolina and then returned to Wheaton in 1942 to run the College's Mimeograph Services and to teach piano in Conservatory. She retired in 1973, after twice receiving awards for outstanding service. After retirement, she continued to live in Wheaton. She died January 18, 1994.

Scope and Content Note

Gladys Lyle Wright was interviewed by Wheaton undergraduate student Sheryl O'Bryan for a class assignment on November 7 and 28, 1984 at the Billy Graham Center on Wheaton College campus. The time period covered in the interview is from 1902 to 1973, although most of the interview deals with the period from the mid 1920s to the mid 1930s. Time elapsed from the beginning of the interview is recorded in the column to the left of the column describing topics discussed. The interview is keyed to the cassette copy and not the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Start of tape
00:30 Introduction to interview on November 7, 1984
00:45 Family background, relationship with brothers, death of her father when she was a college student; relationship with her mother; Gladys' involvement with Campfire Girls
04:25 Early memories of the Baptist church; influence of the pastor's wife; Sunday school lessons about China; never remembers not being a Christian; example of her parents
06:45 Attendance at Middlebury College in Vermont; transfer to Wheaton College; attendance at a missionary conference and being moved to be a missionary; reaction of her mother to her commitment; decision to transfer to a college with a stronger Christian atmosphere where she could get more Bible training
13:15 Rooming arrangements at Wheaton; first impressions of Wheaton; importance of the early morning prayer group to Gladys; description of Charles Blanchard; dislike of Blanchard because of his opposition to Masons; Wheaton teachers who influenced her; Elsie Dow; memories of classmates such as Alice Winsor
18:45 Reasons for attending Moody Bible Institute; memories of her year at Moody; Dr. John E. Jaderquist; differences between Moody and Wheaton; enjoyment of life at Moody; her Russian roommate's experiences during the Russian revolution
23:00 Decision to join Africa Inland Mission; meeting with Mr. and Mrs. James Bell; Aba in the Belgium Congo, where she was stationed; application process for AIM; lack of support from her home church; help from Dr. Jaderquist; sailing to Africa on the City of Calcutta
31:00 Minimum preparation from AIM before she departed; necessity of language study; AIM's strategy for reaching people; Harry Stam; the activities at the Aba station; the Kakwa and the Logo peoples; the girls' home Gladys was in charge of; taking care of babies, orphans and older girls
36:15 Teaching reading, writing, and simple arithmetic; enthusiasm among students for reading the Bible; colonial government's lack of interest in education; purpose of the girls' school; a typical day at Aba station; mulatto children; story of the African convert Elizabeth Monaka; the typical afternoon and evening at the school
45:00 Characteristics of girls from different tribe; the leprosarium and other medical activities at the station; medical practices of the local witch doctor herbalists; public health care by the colonial government
51:15 Policies of the colonial government toward missions; relations between the people and the government; collapse of the country after independence; attitudes of Africans toward Americans; Theological Education by Extension
56:15 Economic activities in the area of Aba; bartering; providing clothing for the students at the girls' school; signs of industrialization and modern business management in the colony; major crops in the area; physical beauty of the area; terrain around the station
61:30 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:15 Overlap from side 1
02:00 Poem Gladys wrote about the local countryside; annual meetings of all the missionaries of the field; growth of the work of Africa Inland Mission throughout east central Africa; contacts with the AIM board in the United States; other AIM stations in the Congo
07:00 Relations between the mission and the local Catholic church; people frightened away from attending AIM meetings; plagues of locust; cooperation between Protestant mission boards; Brethren missions; Baptist missions; most missionaries in the area were American
11:30 The part animistic beliefs played in daily life; examples of animistic practices; influence of animism on African Christians; Gladys' personal goals as a missionary
16:30 Seeing African life when it was unspoiled by modern living; class structure and etiquette in the region; missionary rudeness
20:15 End of side 2.

Tape T2 - side 1
00:00 Start of tape (distorted voices)
00:45 Continuation of interview. Ways for a Christian young man to develop a place of honor for himself; African politeness and thoughtfulness; the importance of tribes in the African social system; influence of Western culture on the people living around the mission station
06:45 How graduates of the Bible school evangelized areas and started churches; indigenous church finances; a typical church service in the Belgian Congo; use of Western hymns in services; visits from graduates of the Bible school
12:45 Language study; studying with children; intricacies of the language; little contact with village life because of work at the station; first impressions of Aba
17:00 Difficulty at first in getting along with her superiors; vacation in the southern part of the southern part of the colony and traveling with carriers; other vacations
24:15 Major missionary occupations; traveling to unevangelized areas; agricultural work
27:15 End of interview

Tape T3 - side 1
00:00 Start of tape (the first several minutes of the tape are blank, apparently because of some malfunction of the tape recorder)
10:45 Communication between the United States and the Belgian Congo via the Nile; delays in receiving mail because of flooding
12:30 Attitude about returning to the United States; lack of interest from her home church; sources of financial support; sending prayer letters to supporters; medical problems that caused Gladys to return to the United States; teaching at a school for missionary children in South Carolina
18:30 Impressions of United States on her return; delayed reaction to returning home; difference between the Congo and the United States ca. 1935; importance of prayer in the Africa Inland Mission; teaching in South Carolina; musical activities there
27:45 Why missionaries usually sent their children to boarding school; Earl Winsor and the boarding school at Rethy; distress over treatment of the children at the South Carolina school; return to Wheaton in 1942 to work at the College to run the mimeographing service; memories of students who worked in the print shop and later became missionaries; mission work in Muslim countries
34:45 Participation in the Student Missionary Project on campus; literary societies during Gladys student days; musical activities at the college
38:30 Description of the personality of V. Raymond Edman; Dr. Hudson Armerding and his personality; changes at Wheaton over the years - greater commitment to higher academic standards at Wheaton as well as more worldliness on campus
43:00 Benefits the Belgians brought to the Congo; reasons for closing the homes for girls; contacts with former students at the girls' schools; correspondence with missionary friends; ministry with children in Wheaton
58:00 End of tape


The tapes in this collection were given to the Archives by Miss Wright in December, 1984.

Acc. 84-129, 84-141
February 16, 1990
Robert Shuster

Accession 84-129, 84-141
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following item is located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel tape, 3-3/4 ips, 79 minutes. Interview of Wright in which she discusses her family background, education, and work in Belgian Congo as a teacher for the Africa Inland Mission. November 7, 1984. One side.

T2 - Reel-to-reel tape, 3 3/4 ips, 20 minutes. Continuation of tape T1. Wright discusses Congolese society and the work of the Africa Inland Mission. November 7, 1984. One side.

T3 - Reel-to-reel tape, 3 3/4 ips, 46 minutes. Interview of Wright in which she discusses her return to the United States from Africa and her work at Wheaton College. November 28, 1984. One side.

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Last Revised: 9/23/08
Expiration: indefinite