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Farquhar, Marian, 1917-2006



  • Existence: 1917 - 2006


Marian Farquhar, missionary to Sudan, was born near College Springs in Page County, Iowa, in 1917. Farquhar graduated from Amity High School in College Springs, Iowa, in 1935 and attended Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri. During her college years, she taught primary grades at Coburg and New Market, Iowa. After she received her BA in 1940, Farquhar taught high school English in Elliott and Atlantic, Iowa, for three years. During the summer of 1940 she worked at a Fresh Air camp in the Chicago area.

By 1943, Farquhar was determined to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a missionary. As a child she had heard missionaries at her church speak about their work. In addition, two of her sister's college friends recounted stories of their parents, who were missionaries in Sudan. Farquhar was accepted for a tour of duty in Africa and trained at the Kennedy School of Missions in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Biblical Seminary in New York. She sailed for Sudan in the summer of 1945.

In the usual five-year tours of duty, Farquhar worked in Nasir, a settlement in southern Sudan close to the Ethiopian border. Her goal was to persuade the Nuers to allow their daughters to be educated. She taught the girls in a three room thatched school created by her predecessor, Blanche Soule. While teaching, she developed a series of primers for educating Nuers to read and write. Nearly every literate Nuer learned from the books that she created. Farquhar remained in Sudan until 1964, when the Sudanese government expelled all missionaries. She proceeded to teach English as a second language in Hong Kong for 18 months and then taught English for ten years in Dembi Dollo, Ethiopia. Farquhar was forced out of Ethiopia by Marxists in 1977 and returned home for two years before she was able to travel back to Sudan. From 1979-1982, she worked with the Wycliffe Bible Translators to create an eight book series of primers for Nuer children in first through third grades.

In 1983, Farquhar retired to her family's farm in Iowa. She returned to Africa from 1986 to 1987 to contribute to a Presbyterian hymnal for Nuers, and then again in 1988 and 1989 to assist the Wycliffe Bible Translators with a project. In 1993 she moved to the United Presbyterian Home in Washington, Iowa. In January 1994 she went to Nairobi, Kenya, to work for three months with Nuer evangelists and to help Wycliffe Bible Translators with the translation of a Nuer Old Testament. While in her eighties, she helped Sudanese immigrants in Iowa, Omaha, and elsewhere to adjust to their new lives and used the primers she created to teach them to read and write. Farquhar died in 2006.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Marian Farquhar papers

Identifier: IWA0064

Missionary to the Sudan who spent her childhood in Page County, Iowa, and worked in Africa from the 1940s to 1980s.

Dates: 1902-2006