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Mellony Turner

Featured Mellony Turner

The Papers of Mellony Turner, Methodist missionary in Bulgaria, are held at the United Methodist Archives and History Center.

Mellony Turner (1901-1949), Methodist missionary, was born on April 9, 1901 at Erin, New York. Turner graduated in 1919 from the Cazenovia Seminary located in Cazenovia, New York. In 1924, Turner began to teach at the American School for Girls in Lovetch, Bulgaria for the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1930 she had became the principal of the school.

During World War II, Turner was able to continue teaching at the school.  Her problems became worse after the war when the Communists took over the country. The official communist paper of Bulgaria, Rabotnichesko Delo, repeatedly mocked Turner and her work in the paper.  Forced out of Bulgaria, Turner relocated to Athens, Greece, and taught at Pierce College. After her departure from Bulgaria, false accusations of espionage were made against her. Turner never returned to Bulgaria.  Her diary documents her experience under Nazi occupation during World War II and the aftermath of the war with the rise of the Communists.

On Sunday, November 20, 1949, Mellony was scheduled to give a missionary message at Baldwinsville, New York, Methodist Church. On the way to the church a truck hit her and her father, W. Cleon Turner, a Methodist minister, and both were killed instantly. Turner is buried with her father and mother on a hilltop in Cato, New York.

The Mellony Turner Papers primarily documents her life as a missionary in Bulgaria. There is a number of records on the American School for Girls in Lovetch, consisting of photographs, textbooks, yearbooks, and financial records. Turner's notebooks and lecture notes are included in the collection. It should be noted that there is a single folder containing information on closing the school. Turner kept diaries during her tenure in Bulgaria as well extensive correspondence. There are general images in both photograph and slide format ranging from the royal family of Bulgaria to her own family in the United States. Turner has a copy of a sermon by Bishop Burt; the bishop who had established the Bulgarian mission at the beginning of the twentieth century. Clippings and other types of publications reflect Bulgarian life and politics. There are eight lectures and a sermon written by Turner. Artifacts are personal in nature, reflecting the clothing and accessories of mid-twentieth century Bulgarian dress.  The other series within the collection reflects Turner's immediate family. The few records relating to her parents deal with their will and a folder of letters.

The finding aid, or detailed description, of her papers can be found