Billy Graham Center

Papers of Elwood Linnell Davis - Collection 452

[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.
In cases where an individual document (paper record, photo, audio recording, moving image recording, etc.) is online at the Archives’ Website, either the description of a specific item is underlined, or this symbol -- -- appears next to a general description to indicate that an item covered by that description is online. Clicking on the symbol or the underlining will link to the item. If there are two or more of these symbols -- -- that appear by a description, the number of symbols indicates the number of items covered by the description that are online, such as several different photos from a photo file.]

[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.]

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


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

Lists of Artifacts, Photo Albums, Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)
    Photo Albums
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)


Brief Description.
Diaries, photographs, and other miscellaneous materials document the work of Davis, a medical missionary who worked in Kenya under Africa Inland Mission; includes information on his medical studies, his work in Africa, and his family. There is also biographical information, licenses, a funeral book, and passports. For more information, please see guide.
Vol: 2 Boxes (DC, 1 cu ft), Photographs

Collection 452
[June 21, 2000]
Davis, Elwood Linnell; 1879-1961
Papers; 1882-1961

2 Boxes (DC, 1 cu ft), Photographs


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Elwood Linnell Davis was born July 11, 1879, at Fairmount, NJ, to Presbyterian pastor Rev. Titus Elwood and Sarah Ervilla Whitcomb Davis. He was one of six children: Merton Whitcomb, Ethelyn Ervilla, John Angell, Horace Maynard, and Anna Pauline. Rev. Davis was a Presbyterian pastor. Davis graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rutgers College in 1902 and then studied medicine at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia from 1902 to 1906.

On November 12, 1910, Charles Hurlburt, General Director of Africa Inland Mission (AIM), presided over the marriage of Davis and Bernice Charity Conger, a nurse, and they left New York on November 26, 1910, en route for Africa where Davis was to serve as a medical missionary with AIM. They arrived in Mombasa on January 11, 1911, from where they took the train to Kijabe, spent several weeks there, and then traveled by ox-cart and donkey to Machakos, Kenya. Davis began language and medical work in Machakos with the help of Mrs. Davis. Their first son, Linnell Eugene, was born there (see the diary entry for February 13, 1913).

Dr. and Mrs. Davis spent five-and-a-half years before their first furlough, during which time their second son was born: Philip Barton (see diary entry for October 11, 1916). After their return from furlough, they served three more terms, mainly at Kijabe, Kenya, among the Kikuyu tribe. Davis was in charge of Theodora Hospital and built a reputation as a skilled surgeon. Twice Davis was called upon to serve as Kenya Field Director (1931-1933 and 1946-1949). He also at one point was in charge of the Rest Home at Nairobi.

Dr. Davis returned to the United States in 1949. Mrs. Davis died in 1950 and in 1955 Davis retired to Media, the Africa Inland Mission retirement home in Clermont, FL. He died on August 26, 1961.

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

Scope and Content

This collection contains diaries, photographs, and miscellaneous materials about Elwood L. Davis and his medical missionary work in Kenya, Africa, for the Africa Inland Mission.

The diaries contain brief entries which include the place where they were written, weather, and summary of activities, e.g., "(Machakos) Sunday [December 13, 1914]. Hot day. Usual services & good attendance, 98 A.M. Our service P.M." (folder 1-2). The first diary (folder 1-1) covers 1904 and 1905 and many of the notations have to do with his classes and work in medical school. The diary in folder 1-2 covers years 1910 to 1914, describing the Davis's marriage, departure for Africa, and the birth of his first son. The years 1915 to 1919 are covered in the diary in folder 1-3, in which entries record his work in Africa, his first furlough, the birth of his second son, and his army medical service during World War I (Camp Greenleaf, Camp Sevier, and Camp Pike). The diaries mention contacts with the following AIM workers: Erik Barnett, Dr. Helen Blakeslee, Austin Paul, John Stauffacher, and Theodore Westervelt, among others. Subsequent diaries contain entries on places visited, people entertained, services held, etc. In the diary in folder 2-3, Davis writes about leaving Africa in 1949 and the death of his wife, Bernice, in 1950, among many other topics.

The collection also contains 320 photographs which depict Davis, his family, missionary colleagues, and AIM activities.

Further information on Davis is available in Collection 81, folder 19-25.


The materials from this collection were received by the Center in October 1982 from Rev. Linnell Davis.

Accession #82-148

May 25, 1993
Janyce H. Nasgowitz
E. Diaz
B. Phillips
Revised, August 30, 1994
Janyce H. Nasgowitz

Accession : 82-148
Type of Material: Photographs

The following items may be found in the PHOTO FILE; request by Folder Title at the beginning of each entry below:

DAVIS, ELWOOD LINNELL. Includes photographs of Elwood Davis, his wife Bernice Conger Davis, and family groupings which include his brothers and sisters; several unidentified people. 30 b/w, 1896, 1943, 1946, n.d.


Accession : 82-148
Type of Material: Photo Albums

The following items may be found in the PHOTO ALBUM FILE; request by Folder Title at the beginning of each entry below:

DAVIS, ELWOOD LINNELL--PHOTO ALBUM I. Photographs of the African home and surroundings of Dr. and Mrs. Davis; school at Machakos; ox cart carrying Mr. Gribble, Miss Newman and Rev. and Mrs. Westervelt (July, 1911); Dr. Blakeslee with Linnell Eugene Davis; the Davis family; a dispensary; a United Conference [no further identification]; unidentified camping scenes. 68 b/w, 1911, n.d.

DAVIS, ELWOOD LINNELL--PHOTO ALBUM II. Photographs of travel to Africa after furlough; scenes of Mombasa, Kenya; AIM. rest home in Mombasa, 1938; the kirk [church] at Kikuyu, Kenya; the "Church of the Torch," Kikuyu; Mt. Kilimanjaro; camping with the Stauffachers; a Masai evangelist preaching; baptism; first students at the Moffat Memorial Bible School, Kijabe, with teachers [Frederick] McKenrick and Miss [Emma M.] Mathys; African Sunday school children with Christmas gifts; conference at Kijabe; Dr. and Mrs. Davis with son Linnell and his family; son Philip's family; students of the Rift Valley Academy; the Austin Paul family; Theodora Hospital, Kijabe; various patients; Westervelt family, Eric Barnett family. 222 b/w, c. 1921-1948, n.d.

Box Folder Item
1 1 1902-1905
2 1910-1914
3 1915-1919
4 1920-1924
5 1925-1929
6 1930-1934
7 1935-1939
2 1 1940-1944
2 1945-1949
3 1950-1955
4 1955-1959
5 1960-August 22, 1961
6 Biographical information, marriage and medical licenses, passports, In Memoriam book, will; 1882-1961
7 Biographical information on Titus Elwood Davis; 1914, n.d.
8 Legal documents of Anna & Victor Swanson [relationship unknown]; 1913-1943

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 6/21/00
Expiration: indefinite