Emma Bertha Delany was an African American missionary in Malawi and Liberia. She was born in Fernandina Beach, Florida. She graduated from Spelman Seminary (now College), Atlanta, in 1894 and worked for several years at Florida Institute, Live Oak, Florida, before going to Malawi in 1902. Under appointment of the National Baptist Convention and the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., Inc., she was supported in Africa by the Baptist women of Florida. Delany was first stationed at Chiradzulu, Blantyre, where she confounded the Providence Industrial Mission with Landon N. Cheek, the first African American missionary to arrive in Malawi. She worked as a teacher at the mission and eventually established a women’s society and weekly sewing classes for girls. She left the country in 1906 and returned to the United States.
In 1912 Delany went to Liberia, where she worked for eight years. She supervised the construction of Suehn Industrial Mission and served as the first principal of Suehn Industrial Academy. In 1920 she returned to the United States with the idea of raising funds for continued work and for establishing a chain of schools in Liberia. However, she died at the age of 51 of yellow fever.
Sylvia M. Jacobs
C. C. Adams and Marshall A. Talley, Negro Baptists and Foreign Missions (1944); Nuper Chaudhuri and Margaret Strobel, Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance (1992); Edward A. Freeman, The Epoch of Negro Baptists and the Foreign Mission Board (1951); Florence Matilda Read, The Story of Spellman College (1961).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.