Sister Ingeborg Nystul papers
1869-1972 and undated

MSS 86
4.6 linear feet (8 boxes)



Nystul, Ingeborg, 1880-1972.
Ulstad, Anna (Nystul)


English, Norwegian, Chinese


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Access points:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America--Missions--China.
Women missionaries--China.

Finding aid prepared by:

Herb Morgan, 2003. Updated by Emily Hughes Dominick, 2006, and Samantha Crisp, July 2014.

Preferred citation:

[identification of item], in MSS 86 Sister Ingeborg Nystul papers, Special Collections, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.



Augustana College Special Collections
Thomas Tredway Library
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

Custodial History
Scope and Content
System of Arrangement
Container List
Related Collections


Collection donated by Dottie and Tom Vonderhaar in 1999. Dottie Vonderhaar is one of Ingeborg's nieces.



Sister Ingeborg Nystul was born in Norway in April 1880. She immigrated to the United States by herself, living first in New York and then in North Dakota. Ingeborg later attended the Bethesda Home and Deaconess Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota, becoming the first medically trained, consecrated deaconess in September 1906. Sister Ingeborg was the first deaconess sent to China by the Augustana Synod and also the longest serving missionary with forty two years of service. In 1948, Ingeborg left China for the last time. Ingeborg went to Norway to await United States citizenship, which was granted in 1954. Ingeborg died on December 28, 1972 at the age of 92 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.



The Ingeborg Nystul papers are arranged in five series: Biographical, Correspondence, Photographs, Printed Materials and Drawings, and Artifacts.

The Biographical series (1953-1972) contains a collection of various materials probably collected by Nystul's sister, Anna. This series includes a certificate from the Immanuel Deaconess Institute marking the 50 years of service to the Immanuel Deaconess Institute (1953), and a memorial book and other ephemera from Nystul's funeral (1972), as well as letters and news clippings about Nystul and other missionaries (scattered).

The Correspondence series (1923-1972) includes letters from Ingeborg to her sister (1923-1948). Topics discussed in these letters include Ingeborg's experiences as a missionary in China, her travels in China and abroad, as well as situations involving the political and military turmoil at the time in China. Also included is a folder of miscellaneous correspondence and clippings.

The Photographs series (1869-1971 and undated) consists of large and small albums (13 albums total), loose photographs, mounted prints, and postcards. The first folder in the series includes a mixture of greeting cards, memorial cards, and photographs. These items were originally stored separately in a small red box. The photo albums document Nystul's life in both Norway, China, and the United States. The photos capture Nystul's family life as well as her missionary work. Many of the photographs have been labeled, presumably by Ingeborg. There is also an oversize (14" x 20") portrait of Ingeborg as a young woman [OPF-086/1]. The loose photographs are varied in terms of subject matter. Some of the photos appear to have been sent to Nystul throughout her life and include portraits of family members and friends. Some of the loose photographs appear to have been removed from the albums.

The Printed Materials and Drawings series (undated) consists of drawings and watercolors, many of which were created by students in the mission schools. Many of the items are Bible verses printed in Chinese characters, including two calendars. Also included in this series is a photocopy of the title page of a book, "Fifty Years in the Church of Rome". The book has been separated and is now cataloged in Special Collections.

The Artifacts series (undated) consists of two types of objects: textiles and three-dimensional objects, many acquired as gifts and souvenirs. Textiles are made up of wall hangings, many with Chinese characters, some of which are Bible verses. In addition, there are numerous pieces of fabric and cloth of various colors and designs. This series also includes a purse possibly made of seaweed. Most of the items appear to have been collected while Ingeborg lived in China. The series contains several vases, commemorative plaques, scrolls, and other items.  



Arranged by size and type of item.



Box 1
            Correspondence and clippings regarding Augustana Synod missionaries, 1924-1956 and undated
            Golden Anniversary certificate from Immanuel Deaconess Institute, 1953
            Memorial program and book, 1972
            Undated envelopes, circa 1906-1948
            Contents of small red box (includes loose photographs and some correspondence), 1962-1972 and undated
            Loose, 1929, 1938, 1963-1969
            Loose snapshots, undated (1 of 2)
            Loose snapshots, undated (2 of 2)
            Postcards, 1937 and undated
            Loose larger prints, 1931 and undated
            Mounted print, undated (1 of 2)
            Mounted print, undated (2 of 2)
            Ingeborg Nystul Portrait, undated [housed in oversize folder OPF-086/1]
Box 2
            Album 1, inclusive 1907-1948 and undated
            Album 2, inclusive 1929-1964 and undated
            Album 3, inclusive 1961-1966 and undated

Box 3
            Album 4, inclusive 1930-1937 and undated
            Album 5, inclusive 1931-1956 and undated
            Album 6, inclusive 1949-1959 and undated
            Album 7, undated
            Album 8, inclusive 1926-1971 and undated
            Album 9, inclusive 1912-1924 and undated

Box 4
            Album 10, inclusive 1869-1960 and undated
            Album 11, inclusive 1917-1947 and undated
            Album 12, inclusive 1940's and undated
            Album 13, inclusive 1923-1951 and undated

      Printed Materials and Drawings
            Drawings and watercolors, undated
            Printed materials, undated
            Bookmarks and calendars, inclusive 1960-1969 and undated
            Book, 1953 (removed and cataloged in Special Collections books)

Box 5
            Red pouch, undated
            White bag with red cross-stitched pattern, undated
            Linen, undated
            Silk landscape, undated
            Silk Tassels, 3 black, 1 blue, undated
            White linen bag, undated
            Blue silk hanging with orange Chinese characters and multicolored floral design, undated
            Red silk hanging with white Chinese characters, undated
            Norwegian flag, undated
            Silk embroidered with landscape design, undated
            Blue silk scrap, undated
            Purple silk with Chinese characters. undated

Box 6
            White fabric with Chinese characters, undated
            Blue/purple silk with floral design, undated
            Black cloth with designs, undated
            Black cloth with orange Chinese characters, undated
            White/purple cloth, undated
            Seaweed purse, undated

Box 7
            Black vase, undated
            Two wooden stands for vases, undated
            Two silver vases, undated
            Plaque, undated
            Letter opener, undated
            Ceramic dish, undated
            Ceramic tile, undated
            Pair of shoes, undated
            Needle holder, undated
            Metal cross (in box), undated
            Jewelry box (contains multiple objects), undated
            Three scrolls, undated
            Wooden and metal plaque, undated
            Scroll (in box), undated

            Ingeborg Nystul Portrait, undated



MSS 20 Claude William Foss papers; MSS 247 Augustana Foreign Missionary Society papers


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