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Angus, William R., Jr. (1901-1984). Papers, 1906-1983, 2000.

Identifier: H00-1381

Scope and Contents

The William Angus, Jr. Papers span the years 1906-1983, with memorial materials from the year 2000. Box 1, and one-quarter of Box 2, contain diverse papers from Angus’ lengthy missionary service, including correspondence, articles by Angus and others, newsletters and news clippings, some verse works, an oral history transcript, and photographs and slides of China and the Philippines.

Boxes 2-5 contain manuscript and typescript drafts and bound copies of Angus’ decades-long efforts at paraphrasing books of the Bible in the meter of blank verse. Angus’ original attempts at publication resulted in small, bound volumes of Old and New Testament books entitled "Exercises in Metrical Paraphrase," some of which are collected in Box 2. Angus also used this title as a working title for early drafts in the series he later titled The Bible in Verse: A Metrical Paraphrase. Advancing this project occupied Angus from the late 1960s until his death.

One quarter of Box 5, and all of Box 6, collect the drafts and bound copies of South Fukien: A Missionary’s Miscellany, the collection of narrative poems about his China years that Angus edited and arranged into book form during the 1950s. Where his versification of the Bible is considered and eloquent in its simplicity of language, South Fukien, through its many drafts and formal changes, is superlative at elevating a personal narrative to a work of universal appeal and historical importance. Angus shares the gifts of novelist Graham Greene for spotting dramatic situations amid everyday life in the Orient, and for pointing out a clear cut moral above ideological confusions.


  • 1906 - 1983
  • 2000



William Angus was born on October 4, 1901, in New York City. He went to local schools in the city and at Oradell and Park Ridge, New Jersey. In 1922, Angus earned his B.S. in Agriculture (Soil Fertility) at Rutgers University. He took his theological training at Hartford Seminary, receiving his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1925. Angus later undertook graduate work at Yale University Language School, 1946-1947.

After getting his B.D., Angus was licensed by the RCA Classis of Bergen. While studying the Amoy Chinese Dialect, he met his future wife, Agnes Buikema, who preferred to be called by her middle name, Joyce. Once commissioned by the RCA Board of Foreign Missions, Angus departed for the Amoy Mission district in 1925 to become an evangelist to the country churches of China. Joyce was also sent to China to be an English instructor. They were married on July 5, 1927. They had three children: Margery Anne, David Robertson, and John Galen Angus.

In 1930, the Anguses' home city of Changchow was overrun by the forces of Mao Tse-tung, and the family was forced to flee the city. Afterward, they took a year's furlough, spent in Princeton, New Jersey, and returned to their work in China. Events following the 1941 U.S. entry into World War II caused the family to be separated for five years. William, traveling the countryside on mission business, was not allowed back to find his family. Joyce and the three children were made prisoners of war and eventually repatriated to the U.S. on the first S. S. Gripsholm voyage, July-August 1942. Joyce and the children lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, until reunited with William in 1946.

The family took another furlough, during which Rutgers University awarded William an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 1947. Later that same year, the Anguses returned to missionary work in China. They stayed until 1952, when Communist pressure forced them to leave. The Anguses were recommissioned and sent as missionaries to the Philippines. They remained there until William retired in 1967.

Moving to Orange City, Iowa, the Anguses opened their home to Chinese and Philippine students studying at Northwestern College. William continued his private work on metrical paraphrases of books of the Bible and on a collection of poems on his China service. After battling terminal illness, Joyce died in 1974. William created a scholarship in her name at Northwestern for American and foreign students going into mission work, and foreign students needing financial aid. He died on October 8, 1984, and his name was added to the memorial scholarship. The Angus house in Orange City has since become a part of the Northwestern campus.


9.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The papers of William Robertson Angus, Jr., missionary to China and the Philippines. Rutgers University Class of 1922; Hartford Seminary Class of 1925; graduate work at Yale University; licensed by the Classis of Bergen, 1925; commissioned by the RCA board of Foreign Missions, 1925; Amoy Mission service, 1925-1952; Honorary Doctorate of Divinity, Rutgers, 1947; recommissioned and sent to the Philippines as a missionary, 1952-1967. The collection includes Angus’ metrical paraphrases of books from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocrypha; drafts of the poetry volume South Fukien; articles, essays, sermons and lectures; RCA missionary service materials; an oral history transcript; correspondence; and photographs and slides of RCA China missions.


William R. Angus, Jr.


310 images (30 slides) (Box 1); one image Box 2



Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Joint Archives of Holland Repository

Theil Research Center
9 East 10th Street
Holland Michigan 49423 United States