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Anderson, Vernon A. (Vernon Andy), 1896-1999



  • Existence: 1896 - 1999


Although born in Illinois on August 23, 1896, Anderson was raised in Alabama where he attended the Alabama Presbyterian College. After graduation from that institution in 1917 he continued his studies at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky from which he received his B.D. degree in 1920. Having decided on a career as a missionary, Anderson joined the American Presbyterian Congo Mission and assumed a post with that mission in the Kasai Province of the then Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1921.

The earliest Presbyterian missionaries to work in the Congo had established a station at Luebo in 1891. Their missionary efforts were concentrated on the Bena Lulua, who are the people living in the Lulua river valley. Anderson, however, was sent to the station of Bibanga situated near the Lubilashi River in the area to the south and east of Luebo. Bibanga lay within the broad area between Lake Tanganyika and the Kasai River in which the Baluba live. The Baluba have been separated into two groups - the Baluba-kasai and the Baluba-katanga - by one present day scholar. (Heinz Göhring, baLuba, Studien zur Selbstordnung und Herr-schaftsstruktur der baLuba, Meisenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain, 1970, p. 13-15.) The Baluba-lubilashi are a sub-group of the Baluba-kasai. Rev. Anderson was one of the first missionaries to work among the Baluba-lubilashi.

From 1921 to 1946 Rev. Anderson lived and worked among this branch of the Baluba. In addition to his duties as a missionary, he spent a considerable amount of time studying Baluba society, in part through the collection of primary data from living informants in villages which he visited personally. From this material he wrote a Ph. D. dissertation, entitled "Witchcraft in Africa: a missionary problem", and received his degree in 1942 from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Another project to engage his scholarly interest in the Baluba was the revision of an early Tshiluba-English dictionary. He served as chairman of a committee which worked seven years to update this lexicon.

Following the receipt of his Ph. D. Vernon Anderson served in a number of other positions. For two years he was the Interim General Secretary of the Congo Protestant Council with headquarters at Leopoldville (Kinshasa). Beginning in 1947 he served on La Commission pour la protection des indigènes at the invitation of the Belgian government. In 1948 he was elected to act as the legal representative of the American Presbyterian Congo Mission. And, in 1949 he embarked on a ten-year term as the Mission's inspector of schools. After having spent forty years as a missionary in the Congo, Vernon Anderson returned to the United States. He received an honorary D.D. degree in 1960 from Davidson College in North Carolina, and spent the next six years as an associate minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, Texas. He retired in 1966 to Dallas, Texas.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Vernon Anderson Papers

Identifier: 003
Abstract The papers in this collection were generated by Rev. Vernon Anderson, a Presbyterian missionary. They include personal correspondence, correspondence and reports which Rev. Anderson received while serving on the Commission pour la protection des indigènes, ethnographic notes on the Baluba, field notes taken during meetings with informants in Baluba villages, detailed genealogical clan lists, typescript and photocopies of scholarly papers and articles, newspaper clippings, and notecard...
Dates: 1921-1980