Papers of Janet Dann

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Diaries, poems, photographs, slides, display material, tapes, letters and personal effects. Also includes the letters of Samuel Poly concerning Janet Dann.

Administrative / Biographical History

Janet (or Jane) Dann, was a missionary for the Japan Rescue Mission and later the Japan Evangelistic Band. She was born in London on 1st March 1899. Her parents died when their house was destroyed in air raids in 1915. Dann was injured but she and her sisters survived. Unfortunately this was the first of many illnesses and injuries which were to befall her. However she succeeded in leading a very colourful and committed religious life.

Between 1920 and 1925 she trained, qualified and registered as a nurse. In 1922 she was struck down with septicaemia and forced to spend a number of years in hospital. When she left in 1924 she was crippled with acute rheumatoid arthritis. Despite this she was inspired to undertake missionary work in 1927 when she attended a Japanese Evangelical Convention. On the advice of a leading member of the movement she joined the Japan Rescue Mission (JRM) in 1928 and began deputation work in England. The organisation worked to "save" girls likely to be sold to the licensed prostitution system. In 1929 Dann travelled to Japan to further the cause. She spent a few years studying Japanese and working in Children's Rescue Homes at Sendai. In 1933 she became involved in preparing a newly built Rainbow Women's Hospital in Osaka. However the work of missionaries drew to a halt as a result of the outbreak of the Second World War. Dann was eventually forced to return to England until 1947.

The work of the JRM was felt to be no longer necessary by 1950, as licensed prostitution had been abolished. So by 1951 Dann was working for the Japan Evangelistic Band (JEB), which the following year absorbed the JRM and redirected missionary activity. The JEB was founded in 1903 as a non-denominational fellowship of Japanese and expatriate missionaries dedicated to personal holiness and aggressive evangelism. The JEB missionaries worked not only in Japan but also among the Japanese community of Canada, USA, and the UK. It saw itself as an evangelising agency assisting existing missions and churches and organising Christian Conventions for bible study and prayer. After the war, the main focus of the JEB concerned working on new housing estates that were appearing on the outskirts of cities. Dann became an active member of the Aizu Christian Fellowship, a localised division of the JEB. This involved teaching in a private school and holding Sunday school classes for students and other local children. Later she worked with a group of missionary ladies to develop churches. In 1959 she established a church in Funehiki. Her missionary work with the JEB continued until she was compelled by illness to return to England in 1967.

However she remained an enthusiastic member of the organisation. Her continued participation demonstrates that her religious fervour never wavered. She took part in regular prayer meetings and in 1966 went on a pilgrimage to Israel. Through constant communication she nurtured a longstanding relationship with her fellow missionaries in Japan and associates in Canada. This ensured that she kept up to date with developments. In 1974 she moved into St Monica's Home for the elderly where she was cared for until her death on 17th June 1986.

Arrangement

The papers have been arranged into seven divisions according to the original order: Diaries and Notes; Display material and documents relating to the Japan Evangelistic Band; Photographs; Slides and Negatives; Tapes; Correspondence; Personal Effects. These divisions include files and individual items and are arranged in chronological order.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

In 2000 the records of the Japan Evangelistic Band (renamed the Japan Christian Link) including Janet Dann's papers, were donated to SOAS. Additional materials (cassette tapes, transcripts, notes and postcards) came with a second deposit from Andrew and Diane Wright in January 2012.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Custodial History

Dann was befriended in the later years of her life by Mrs Ada Wright and Mr Samuel Poly, members of the Counterslip Baptist Church. Mrs Wright taped Janet's recollections of her life. In 1996 she passed the tapes onto M.B.Hampton. Hampton also collected diaries and other personal papers, which were previously held by Samuel Poly, the executor for Dann's will. All of this material was deposited in the JEB Archive. Additional material was donated to SOAS Library directly by the family of Mrs Diane Wright.

Related Material

Japanese Evangelistic Band Archive 1905-1987 held by SOAS. Reference: JEB/01-JEB/08. Consists of records relating to the JEB structure, administration and missionary activity.

Geographical Names