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James Lee Pottenger papers

Identifier: MSM-2010-020

Scope and Contents

The manuscript collection describes the mission work of the Methodist Church in the Belgian Congo, specifically, the construction of a hospital and other facilities at Kapanga, Elisabethville and Mulunguwishi. A rich collection of letters sent back to James and Geneva Pottenger's parents describes life in the mission including their co-workers and the local residents. Besides the large quantity of letters sent home, there are numerous architectural drawings for buildings to be constructed at the Kapanga site. Some photographs and other items exist from James' childhood, too. Of particular note is a photograph album that contains photographs of the people and work at the mission. Taken with the letters, a good picture can be seen of life in a Methodist mission station in the late colonial period of the Belgian Congo.


  • 1917 - 1972
  • Majority of material found within 1926 - 1952

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright interests for this collection have been transferred to the Archives.

Biographical Note

James Lee Pottenger was born February 25, 1917 in Nappanee, Indiana, to Royal and Mrs. Pottenger. He had three sisters, Ora, Erna and Betty. The family moved to Warsaw, Indiana in 1920. James graduated from Warsaw High School in 1935 and received a BA from Manchester College, North Manchester, Ind. in 1939. In 1940 he married Geneva who would later join him in mission work. James Pottenger declared conscientious objector status during World War Two and was assigned to a Civilian Public Service Camp. He received a masters degree in economics from American University, Washington, DC, in 1947, and then received missionary training at Hartford (Conn.) Seminary. The following year, 1948, James and Geneva were assigned to the Methodist mission in the Belgian Congo. At the time of his death, Pottenger was planning a hospital in Kapanga. He was stricken with appendicitis and underwent surgery for a burst appendix. However, he became ill shortly after that and died June 10, 1950. He and Geneva had no children. James Pottenger was buried in the Belgian Congo.


1 Cubic Feet (1 document case, 1 small flat box and some oversize items)

Language of Materials


Wesley Wilson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of DePauw University and Indiana United Methodism Repository

Roy O. West Library
405 S. Indiana St.
Greencastle Indiana 46135 United States