Medical work and Nyasaland missionaries

reflecting on the life of Pauline Pretorius (née Murray)


  • Lizelle Smit Stellenbosch University



Pauline Pretorius, born Murray, worked as a Dutch Reformed Church [DRC] mission doctor in Nyasaland (now Malawi) from 1928–1976, but little has been written about her life and extraordinary career. A disproportionate number of books and articles have been published by or about male DRC missionaries in Nyasaland, while women’s stories have been overlooked. This article discusses the significant contributions made by Dr Pauline Murray to improve healthcare practices for women and children in Nyasaland and her efforts to train local midwives in Mlanda, Nyasaland, from 1928–1941. This article argues that recovering female missionaries’ stories is important and suggests that Murray’s work in Nyasaland can be read as an example of a medical missionary who considered her work an “act of service to others”. Many descendants of Andrew Murray Sr worked as (medical) DRC missionaries in Nyasaland and, although this article focuses on the life and work of Pauline Murray, mention is made of the notable contributions made to the field of medicine by members of the extended Murray family.






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