Davidson, Hannah Frances

Brethren in Christ

Hannah Frances Davidson was a Brethren in Christ (BC) missionary in Rhodesia. Davidson was born near Smithville, Ohio, the daughter of Henry Davidson, first editor of the Evangelical Visitor, the denominational paper of the BC. She was educated at Ashland College, Ohio, and Kalamazoo College, Michigan, and taught at McPherson College, Kansas (1888-1897). In 1898 she and four other missionaries founded the first BC mission in Africa at Matopo, located about 30 miles southwest of Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In 1906 with Adda Taylor she founded the first BC mission in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) at Macha, where she was superintendent until her retirement in 1923. The system of elementary education that she introduced remained largely in effect until the governments of the two countries became responsible for the denomination’s schools. Her book South and South Central Africa (1915) is still one of the best descriptions of early American missionary work in Africa. On returning to the United States, she taught at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, until shortly before her death and served as missions editor for the denomination’s paper.

E. Morris Sider


Anna Engle et al., There Is No Difference (1950); E. Morris Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson,” in Nine Portraits (1978).

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.