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Ian Harper and Ruth Eileen (Witmer) Cook - Collection 317


[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. ]

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biographies of Ian and Ruth Cook

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection

*****

Audio file and written transcript for T3

Audio file and written transcript for T4

Audio file and written transcript for T5



Brief Description.
One interview with each of the Cooks recorded in October 1985. Ian describes his childhood and education in South Africa, college education at Wheaton College, training for missionary work, medical missions work in South Africa with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), the Zulus, apartheid, and the national church. Ruth talks about her childhood, conversion, and intention to become a missionary nurse, education at West Suburban Hospital and Wheaton College, joining TEAM, missionary training, Zulu culture, rearing children while a missionary, missionary responsibilities, evaluation of preparation for missionary work.


Collection 317
[December 12, 2006]
Cook, Ian Harper (1933- ) and Ruth Eileen Witmer (1931-2006 )
Interviews; 1985

Audio Tapes

Restrictions

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Biographies

Ian Harper Cook was born in 1933 in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1935, the Cooks moved to Durban, South Africa, where Cook's father served as the pastor of a Baptist congregation. Cook was converted when he was six. While living in Durban, Cook was educated in a private school. In 1945, the family transferred to Pretoria, where his father continued his pastoral work, and Cook completed his grammar school and high school education in a public school. In 1951, after coming to the United States, Cook enrolled at Wheaton College. For his sophmore year, he transferred to Fort Wayne Bible College, where his father was a member of the faculty, and where he could take courses at reduced rates which could be applied to his degree at Wheaton; he returned to Wheaton for his junior and senior years. Through his junior year, Cook was a Bible major; at the beginning of his senior year, he changed his major pre-med. He graduated from Wheaton in 1955. Following his graduation, Cook moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where he worked and took classes at Indiana University in order to meet the requirements for medical school, which he then entered in 1956. He graduated in 1960, and completed his internship in Indianapolis in 1961. In 1957, while a student in medical school, Cook married Ruth Witmer, whom he had met while both were students at Wheaton.

Ruth Witmer was born in 1931 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where her father was a pastor in the Missionary Church denomination and a member of the faculty at Fort Wayne Bible College. She made a commitment to Christ when she was six. Growing up in an environment surrounded by missionary emphasis, she decided when she was twelve that she wanted to work as a missionary nurse. She moved to suburban Chicago in 1950 to study and work at the West Suburban Hospital, then associated with Wheaton College. She completed the nursing program in 1953 and concluded her education with two years of liberal arts study at Wheaton, graduating with a Bachelor's of Nursing degree in 1955. While a student at Wheaton, she worked at an Elgin hospital; during her senior year she was a dorm resident assistant at the College. Following her graduation, she worked for a summer at Wheaton College's Honey Rock Camp in northern Wisconsin, and then became the college nurse and an instructor at Fort Wayne Bible College. Following the Cooks' marriage in 1957, she worked at the Veteran's Hospital Medical Center in Indianapolis until the birth of their second son.

During 1961 and 1962, the Cooks worked on a short term medical project for Moravian mission among the Miskito Indians in rural Honduras along the Nicagraguan border. In 1963, Ian worked as a surgery resident in an Indianapolis hospital, while the couple was awaiting acceptance by The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). They were accepted by TEAM in 1964 and assigned to the Mosvold Mission Hospital in Ingwavuma, Natal, South Africa, a predominantly Zulu area near the Indian Ocean coast. Ian worked as a general practioner in the hospital, while Ruth taught nurses, contributed to work among women, and maintained the home. Following their first term, the Cooks furloughed in 1969 in Fort Wayne, after which they resigned from TEAM. In order to be near Ian's parents and continue his medical education, the Cooks returned to South Africa in 1971 to live in Cape Town, where Ian worked and studied at the University of Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital. The Cooks returned to the United States to Fort Wayne in 1976, where he joined a medical practice, in which he was still a partner at the time of the interview.

Ian was born a British citizen. While living in South Africa in the early 1970's, he transferred his citizenship to South Africa. Upon returning to the United States in 1974, he initiated the process to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, which was later completed.

The Cooks had three sons: David, Stephen and John. Ruth died June 6, 2006



Scope and Content

Ian and Ruth Cook were interviewed separately by Paul Ericksen on October 1, 1985, at their home in Fort Wayne, Indiana; the interview with Ruth Cook was continued at the medical center at which the Cooks worked. The dates of the events covered by the interview with Ian Cook were 1935-1985; those for the interview with Ruth Cook were 1935-1976. Tape 4 was inadvertently recorded at 7-1/2 ips, and was therefore cut short to adjust the speed, and continued on Tape 5. Each of the tapes include in the background a high pitched squeal created by the tape recorder. The boldfaced entries are intended to highlight the topics covered in the interview. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and no to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape 1 - Side 1
00:00 Start of tape
01:30 Introduction to interview with Ian Cook on October 1, 1985
01:45 Growing up in South Africa: daily contact with Zulus in Durban, conversion and doubts, transfer to Pretoria and its racial composition
08:30 Education in South Africa: high school, Durban and Pretoria school systems, favorite classes and extra-curricular activities
12:00 College education: interest in Wheaton, transfer to Fort Wayne
16:00 Wheaton College: first impressions of city, culture shock, comparison with South African education, other international students, support group, his acceptance by others, employment, controversial issues (Billy Graham), favorite faculty, least favorite course, campus spiritual life
30:30 Preparing to become a doctor
34:45 Ruth Witmer: meeting, dating, marriage
37:00 Missions preparation in medical school: developing skills and attitudes, fellowship, influential people on decision, applying to TEAM
42:30 Short term medical project at Moravian station in Honduras
44:30 End of Side 1

Tape 1 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:05 Overlap from Side 1
00:30 Continuation on project in Honduras, language learning, preaching, travel
06:00 TEAM: application, efficient administration, candidate school, acceptance
12:00 Return to South Africa: first impressions, Mosvold hospital, Zulus, Hospital personnel, responsibilities and interests
17:15 End of Side 2

Tape 2 - Side 1
00:00 Start of tape
01:45 Integration of medical and evangelistic work
03:30 Zulu culture: receptiveness to Gospel, animism and its impact on medical treatment, witchdoctors, high mortality, interpersonal and clan fighting, conversions, disappointment with fallen converts, church discipline
17:15 Apartheid: perceptions during childhood and as a missionary, impact on everyday life, anti-apartheid movement
25:00 Transfer to Cape Town, return to United States in 1976, race relations in Cape Town and riots, non-white medical colleagues, situation in 1985
33:00 TEAM relations with evangelical organizations, Catholic missions
38:30 African church: typical worship, funding and dependence on the mission, building characteristics, American and Africa sermons compared
44:00 National church: evangelicals, predominance of Dutch Reformed Church
46:15 End of Side 1

Tape 2 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:05 Overlap from Side 1
04:30 Continuation on South African church
05:30 Interview wrap-up, complicated citizenship. End of interview
08:15 Follow-up interview following lunch. Zulus: respect for authority and tradition, change within Zulu culture, working outside tribe
15:15 Governmental control of migration with required identity papers
17:45 Ham radio communication network story
19:15 End of interview

Tape 3 - Side 1
00:00 Start of tape
01:45 Introduction to interview with Ruth Cook on October 1, 1985
02:00 Childhood: family life, conversion, Fort Wayne Bible College
05:30 Preparation: early exposure to missionaries, decision to be a missionary, West Suburban Hospital, personal preparation, influential people
13:45 Missionary Church denomination; limited awareness of other missions
17:45 Wheaton College: transition to liberal arts, housing, the city, employment, favorite classes, extracurricular activities, dating, pranks, President V. Raymond Edman
34:15 First impressions of Ian, how they met and married
38:00 Honey Rock, work in Indianapolis,
40:15 TEAM: application, candidate school, cultural preparation
42:00 Culture shock, particularly when returning to the United States
46:15 End of Side 1

Tape 3 - Side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:05 Overlap from Side 1
02:30 Continuation on culture shock when returning to the United States
03:00 Changes in American church attitudes, relationships, deputation, finances
10:30 First impressions of South Africa, traveling to their station, leaving eldest son at boarding school, language study
17:30 Learning about Zulu cultural differences: privacy, dress
21:00 End of Side 2

Tape 4 - Side 1
00:00 Start of tape
00:30 Zulu culture: continuation on examples of cultural: dress, superstitions
06:00 Zulu culture: diet, celebrations, housekeeping, hired help, cooking
11:45 Zulu culture: role of women, families, greater receptivity among women, conferences for women
20:00 Zulu culture: weddings, tribal dances
22:45 Missionary boxes sent from American Christians
23:30 Raising children on mission field
26:30 Her responsibilities at missionary station
28:00 Anecdote about attending formal occasions
30:45 End of Side 1

Tape 5 - Side 1
00:00 Start of tape
01:00 Continuation on amusing anecdotes
04:45 Departure from Zululand, education of children, ministry in Cape Town
08:30 Evaluation of training for missionary work, joy in work with women and nurses
12:30 End of interview

Provenance

The materials for this collection were received by the Center in October 1985 from Ian and Ruth Cook.

Acc.: 85-133, 85-134
January 28, 1990
Paul A. Ericksen
C. Easley



LOCATION RECORD
Accession: 85-133, 85-134
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the Audio Tape file.

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 60 minutes, one side only. Interview with Ian Harper Cook by Paul Ericksen on October 1, 1985. Discussion of childhood and education in South Africa, college education at Wheaton College, training for missionary work, work in South Africa with TEAM.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 62 minutes, one side only. Continuation of interview with Ian Harper Cook by Paul Ericksen on October 1, 1985. Discussion of medical missions in South Africa, the Zulus, apartheid and the national church.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 64 minutes, one side only. Interview with Ruth Witmer Cook by Paul Ericksen on October 1, 1985. Discussion of childhood, conversion and intention to become a missionary nurse, education at West Suburban Hospital and Wheaton College, joining TEAM, missionary training, and Zulu culture.

T4 - Reel-to-reel, 7-1/2 ips, 31 minutes, one side only. Continuation of interview with Ruth Witmer Cook by Paul Ericksen on October 1, 1985. Discussion of Zulu culture, raising children while a missionary and her missionary responsibilities.

T5 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 12 minutes, one side only. Continuation of interview with Ruth Witmer Cook by Paul Ericksen on October 1, 1985. Discussion of amusing incidents, educating the Cook children, her responsibilities, evaluation of preparation for missionary work.




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