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Susan Angeline Collins

Chicago Training School 1895

Missionary Worker in Quéssua, Angola, Women’s Foreign Missionary Society, Methodist Episcopal Church

Miss Susan Angeline Collins was the daughter of Isaac Collins—born in North Carolina in 1808, emancipated in 1845, and served in the Civil War in 1864-1865—and Sarah Ann Joiner Collins—born in 1825 and emancipated in 1839. Miss Collins was their fourth daughter. As a young woman, she worked for a pastor, who encouraged her to attend Upper Iowa University for Normal Training. At the age of 24, she enrolled and became the university’s first African-American student. Later, while living and working as a laundress in the Dakota Territory, she noticed—among some clothes wrapped in newspapers—an ad for foreign missions training in Chicago. In 1886, she sold her laundry business and moved to Chicago to attend the Chicago Training School.

In 1887, at age 36, she was recruited as a missionary by Bishop William Taylor, the first American missionary bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Africa. That same year, she set sail to the Congo near Banana Point. After two years, Miss Collins went to Angola, beginning her service in Dondo.

From 1889 to 1900, Miss Collins served in Malange, Angola, then relocated to Quéssua, Angola, where she taught and established a school for girls, which eventually grew to house more than 50 boarding students. After nearly 13 years in Africa, Miss Collins returned to America and was told that, because of her age, she would not be able to serve as a missionary to Africa any longer. She spent the bulk of 1901 raising money to support a return trip and, with the help of the Pacific Branch of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, returned in 1902, at the age of 50, to Quéssua and stayed another 18 years.

In 1895, she wrote: “Praise God for continued health, and strength, and contentment in the work that He has given me to do . . . You may imagine my surprise and delight when I found that the new missionaries who came last fall were all from the training school.”

3 replies »

  1. Where did you obtain this information on Susan Collins? It reminds me very much of what I have written and shared with Upper Iowa University.


    • Hi, Jan,

      Thank you for your inquiry. We are extremely proud of this project and I’m glad to see you and others are reading about these remarkable alums. In speaking with the coordinator for this project I learned that they did have a difficult time finding exhaustive information about Susan Collins but were able to pull this together using the following sources:

      1.) Several issues of “The Message and Deaconness Advocate”
      2.) “Official Journal of the North Central Africa Mission Conference”
      3.) “Susan Collins, from the Lima/Albany and Fayette area of Fayette County, Iowa, an extremely successful M.E. Missionary for 33yrs in Quessau, Angola, Africa.”

      I hope this helps and if I can be of any further assistance please let me know.

      Shane Nichols
      Director of Communications


  2. Shane, thanks for sharing these references. I was not familiar with the second one you mentioned. Are you aware of any letters Susan wrote while she was in Africa? I have found bits and pieces of them in various places. Sincerely, Jan Van Buren


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