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John Reuling and Eleanor Reuling papers

Identifier: MSS 257 large

Scope and Contents

Personal and family papers focusing on Adams College in South Africa, with an East Lansing/Michigan State University connection. Materials include personal papers (chiefly correspondence from South Africa to relatives in East Lansing), pamphlets, publications, and unpublished papers and other personal documents, including photographs. Also included is material on Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Luthuli.


  • Creation: 1927-1990

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

The material is stored offsite in Remote Storage. Please contact Special Collections 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Biographical / Historical

John Reuling was born in 1906 in Osceola, Nebraska. He graduated from Michigan State College and later received the M.A. from Cornell University. He was a missionary teacher of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) at Adams College, Natal, South Africa (1927-1941), where he was director of teacher training. He also was farm manager and Vice-Principal of Adams College and District Commissioner for the African Boy Scouts. John Reuling He was Africa Secretary for the ABCFM and then an administrator for its successor, the United Church of Christ's Board for World Ministries (UCBWM), serving as regional secretary for Africa (1946-1962) and then General Secretary for Mission (1962- 1972). In this capacity he traveled to Africa, including Angola, Rhodesia, Togo, Ghana and South Africa (he returned briefly to South Africa in the mid-1950s when Adams College was being absorbed under the apartheid regime). Between 1942 and 1945, he was President of Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin, where he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1945. He also served as President of Carleton College, Minnesota. He retired in 1971. John Reuling died in Port Huron in 1990.

Eleanor Swanson Reuling was born in 1903 and graduated from Michigan State College. She married John Reuling in 1926 and in 1927 was appointed an ABCFM missionary to South Africa. She was an educational missionary in South Africa, taught at Adams College and tutored students. She published First Saint to the Zulus, a short biography of missionary James C. Bryant in 1960. Her M.A. entitled “A Graded Program of Outside Reading for American Children Being Educated Abroad”was awarded at MAC in 1934. Eleanor Reuling died in 1983.

The Reulings may have been the first married couple at MAC.

(For further biographical notes see: Guide to the John and Eleanor Reuling Papers Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley, Yale University Library, Divinity Library Special Collections, 1997, 2003: )


3.1 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



The materials are arranged in five series: I. Correspondence; II. Publication of Eleanor Reuling; III. Manuscript of Eleanor Reuling; IV. Biographical Documentation; and V. Miscellaneous Documentation on South Africa.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Edna Wade, daughter of John Adam and Eleanor Reuling, Port Huron, Michigan in 2003.


A signed book of abridged letters was published by the couples' oldest child and is integrated into Special Collections' holdings. Wade, Edna Reuling, "Praise Names of Reuling: a Zulu Song. Letters of John & Eleanor Reuling 1927-1941," Bellingham, WA: Village Books, 2015. BV3625.S67 R46 2015

Processing Information

The donation was inventoried by Peter Limb, Africana Bibliographer, with the assistance of Tibebe Ashete. Finding aid updated in 2011 by Leslie M. Behm.

Finding Aid for the John Reuling and Eleanor Reuling papers
4 Published And Cataloged
Finding aid prepared by Peter Limb and Tibebe Ashete and updated by Leslie M. Behm.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA