Scope and Contents
The collection consists of: personal items relating to the Longleys and their work including press cuttings (1915-1987); circular letters from the Longleys in Nigeria (1931-1945); family and personal correspondence including detailed letters from Jessie Longley to her parents (1928-1987); notebooks and pocket diaries (1928-1989); addresses and talks on Nigeria (1937-1971); administrative material and correspondence relating to the mission work (1928-1974); letters from the children in Nigeria who the Longleys cared for (1945-1988); letters from Nigerian and missionary colleagues received after Jessie Longley's death (1985-1989); notes, extracts from letters and biographical material collected by Longley intended for use in his memoirs (various dates, compiled 1980s); press cuttings, pamphlets and articles on Nigeria, the church and mission (1921-1979); photographs, slides and pictures (c 1896-1980s); sound recordings including a deputation address (1960s); and c 32 short films made by the Longleys of Nigeria and their furloughs (c 1930s-1981).
Biographical / Historical
Frank Hollis Longley, Methodist Missionary Society missionary in western and northern Nigeria, was born in Arlesey, Bedfordshire. The family moved to Royston where his father was a butcher and, after leaving school in 1919, Longley worked in the family shop. From an early age he had wanted to be a missionary and he secured a place to train for the ministry at Richmond College and later went to Headingly, Leeds. He first went to Nigeria in 1931 for two short spells then, in 1935, married Jessie Nellie Bannister, a trained teacher from Royston. A few weeks after their wedding the Longleys left for Nigeria where they were based in Oyo, western Nigeria. Apart from 2 years in Ibadan they spent the next 22 years at Oyo. Conditions were difficult and they were very much pioneers, but the Longleys worked hard to gain the respect of, and work with, the people. Frank Longley became proficient in Yoruba and, as well as evangelising, did his best to help the local communities. Jessie Longley also took an active part in the work, helping out in the hostels, schools and dispensaries that they opened in the area. The Longleys had no children of their own but cared for and supported several local children with whom they kept in touch and whose careers they followed even after they had left Nigeria. In 1957 Frank Longley was appointed superintendent of the Igboora and Badagry circuits and moved, with Jessie, to Igboora. In 1960 he was awarded an MBE, but by this time Jessie's health was causing some concern and the couple returned to England in 1963. Longley worked on the circuit in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk but in 1965 they were asked to return to Nigeria. They were based at Oturkpo, Northern Nigeria then from 1967 at Bussa, the site of the Niger River Dam and had to contend with many difficulties caused by the Civil War. In 1969 they finally returned to England and Longley was appointed minister at Ollerton, Mansfield. He retired from active work in 1972 and they returned to Royston, to the house where Jessie had been born. The Longleys returned to Nigeria for a visit in 1975. Jessie died on 7 September 1985 shortly after their golden wedding anniversary.