Elva Jenkins and Clarence Hendershot Papers Edit


Call Number
RG 1495


  • Bulk 1925, 1932-1935 (Creation)


  • 2 Linear Feet (Whole)
    5 boxes

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  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and copyright holder.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of James Hendershot, 2013.

  • Biographical / Historical

    Elva Jenkins Hendershot, along her husband, Clarence Hendershot, served as an American Baptist missionary to Burma from 1924 through 1935.

    Elva Opal Jenkins was born 17 June 1900 in Bloomfield, Missouri, the second child of William James and Eva Mae Brooks Jenkins. Elva grew up in San Diego, California, and graduated from high school in 1918. She continued her education at the San Diego School of Nursing, where she received her diploma in 1924.

    While attending a Baptist church camp retreat with her sister, Mildred, in the Laguna Mountains, Elva Jenkins met Dr. and Mrs. James Telford, American Baptist missionaries serving in Kengtung, South Shan States, Burma. Dr. Telford needed a nurse, and Elva responded to their call. She was appointed by the Woman's American Baptist Foreign Mission Society on 14 October 1924. Her initial service in Burma, 1924-1927, was principally in the hospital at Kengtung. She returned to the United States in 1927 and resigned her appointment under the Woman's Society in 1928.

    In March 1928, Elva Jenkins married Clarence Hendershot, who was at that time on furlough in the United States after an initial term of service in Rangoon, Burma. The Hendershots returned to active missionary service in 1931; their principal assignment during the period 1932-1935 was in Rangoon, and in association with Judson College. Clarence Hendershot was a member of the Department of History.

    After World War II the subsequent career of Clarence and Elva Hendershot involved again an overseas link. In the mid-1950s Dr. Clarence Hendershot served under the sponsorship of the United Nations as the Chief of the Education Division of the Office of Economic Coordinator, United Nations Command, in Korea. From 1957 to 1965, Elva Hendershot accompanied her husband on his overseas assignments to South Korea and Iran.

    In 1965, they moved to Illinois; and in 1972, to Washington DC. Clarence Hendershot died on 4 May 1979; and Elva Jenkins Hendershot died on 26 October 1990.

  • File Plan

    Box 1 – Correspondence and biographical materials, bulk 1932-1934; A Journey: The Story of Elva Jenkins Hendershot (printed book), 2008; Biographical materials; miscellaneous writings; and memorabilia, 1918, 1955; Letters to W.J. Jenkins family (7 folders), 1932-1934; 1932 April-June; 1932 July-December; 1933 January-June; 1933 July-December; 1934; Undated, circa 1930s

    Box 2 – Photographs, circa 1924-1947

    Box 3 – Kengtung Album, circa 1925 Albums of paintings; Reference materials; Clippings

    Box 4 – Kengtung Album, reproduction prints

    Box 5 – Kengtung Album, digital files Working files (4 discs); Camera files (4 discs); Print files (2 discs)

    Box 6 – Newsletters on Burma and one on Burmese art, 1965-1972; Maps, WAPI broadcast 1929; Burmese publications, 2 folders; If That Don’t Beat the Devil by Jacquie McKeon, 1975 on chapel cars; Burma scenes photograph album; CD copy of A Journey; newspaper clippings 1932

  • Preferred Citation

    Elva Jenkins and Clarence Hendershot Papers, RG1495, [Folder], American Baptist Historical Society, Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Scope and Contents

    The Elva Jenkins Hendershot papers are primarily composed of family letters written by Elva and Clarence Hendershot to her parents, William James and Eva Mae Brooks Jenkins, and Elva’s sister, Mildred, on the couple’s second missionary tour in Burma (1932-1935). The letters are rich in details about their mission work and family life with their little daughter, Elaine. Information regarding Elva Jenkins’ earlier missionary service, as well as the second tour with her husband, may be found in A Journey: The Story of Elva Jenkins Hendershot In Her Own Words, which was compiled, with additional notes, by her daughter, Elaine Hendershot Munson. The collection also includes a small box of photographs (most without captions or dates) that depict the sights and people of Burma, as well as family and friends.

    The earliest item in this collection is a presentation album of original artwork bearing the title: “Keng Tung painter of Yan Hlwa village, 13th day of waxing moon of Tawthalin, 1287 [i.e., 1925].” The album was given by the artist to Elva Jenkins to thank her for caring for his sick wife. Captions to identify each illustration appear at the top of each page and are written in three languages: Burmese, Tai Kheun, and Old Shan.

    According to Burma scholar, Catherine Raymond, Shan presentation albums comprise “illustrations of multiple ethnic groups, each represented by paired male and female figures in distinctive costumes, often holding an emblematic artifact which evokes a characteristic cultural practice.” (221) Raymond postulates that these albums were produced by local artists exclusively in the Kengtung area of Eastern Shan State; and that the albums served as view books of various ethnic peoples “either for some native notable, or for the European clientele living in British Burma at the turn of the 20th century, when the Shan States came finally under the administration of the British Raj.” (222) (“An Ethnographic Illustration of Wa People in British Burma during the Early 20th Century: Notes on a Shan Album from the NIU Burma Collection, with Reference to Similar Illustrations from Other Sources. The Journal of Burma Studies Vol. 17 No. 1, 2013, pp. 221-241). Only a few examples of Shan albums still exist, and of these, the 26-page album held by the American Baptist Historical Society is one of the most complete.