Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Claxon mss., 1947-1993, consist primarily of letters from Baptist missionaries Emma and Neville Claxon, addressed largely to family members in Kentucky. Emma (Osborne) Claxon, 1912-2008, and her husband (William) Neville Claxon, 1915-1998, were first posted to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1948 and were later stationed in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Dahomey (now Benin). Upon their original departure from the United States, the Claxons were accompanied by their then three-year-old daughter, Carol Ann; son William Neville, Jr. was born while the family was stationed in Nigeria. In the 1970s the Claxons studied French in France before moving to French-speaking Benin. After retirement in 1981, Emma and Neville spent their first few months in Russellville, Kentucky, did some mission work in Florida, and then moved to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, where they lived for eleven years. In 1992 they sold their home in Kentucky and moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where daughter Carol was a faculty member in Indiana University's School of Journalism.

The collection is arranged by the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings. The correspondence begins in late 1947 while the Claxons awaited their ship to Africa, and the last letters were written from the United States following the Claxons' retirement as missionaries in 1981. The majority of the letters describe daily activities and missionary work in West Africa over a period of more than thirty years. The letters also include descriptions of the Claxon children's growth and activities, stories of the family's interactions with the peoples of Ghana, Nigeria and Benin, and discussions about the health and wellness of extended family. Frequent correspondents include Neville Claxon's mother, Frona, and sister, Eleanor, as well as children Carol Ann and William (Bill) Neville, Jr. following their return to the United States in pursuit of a college education.

Writings include those by Neville Claxon: brief travel narratives, summaries of experiences in Africa, and excerpts from a journal and daily calendar. There also is an account by an Assembly of God missionary, named McNutt, whose family lived near the Claxons when they first arrived in Kumasi, the Gold Coast, in June 1948.

Purchased: 2003

Collection size: 685 items

Related manuscripts: Claxon mss. II

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.