Historic Cloth Map Receives Virginia Honor, Reveals Part of the Brethren Mission Legacy


Photo by Phyllis Hochstetler
A map made by children in an internment camp in the 1940s, with the help of Helen Angeny


A unique cloth map that was created with the help of Helen Angeny, a Church of the Brethren mission worker in China, has been honored as one of the top 10 artifacts to be saved by a Virginia museum association. Angeny’s daughter Phyllis Hochstetler has shared the news of this honor with Newsline.

Helen and Edward Angeny were two of the six Church of the Brethren mission workers sent to China in 1940. Hochstetler reports, “They ended up in a Japanese concentration camp where my sister Carol was born a month after their internment. They were in the camp for three years.” Hochstetler has turned her mother’s memoirs about the experience into a book titled “Behind Barbed Wire and High Fences,” published by Sunbury Press in 2013.

The map that is currently housed at the MacArthur Museum in Norfolk, Va., along with the rest of her parents’ memorabilia from that time, is “a cloth map of the US Mom had the kids in the camp make,” says Hochstetler. Also among the family memorabilia of that time is “the correspondence between the Church of the Brethren offices and our relatives who were trying to find out their whereabouts for three years.”

The Virginia Association of Museums annual competition to name “Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts” is designed to create awareness of the conservation needs of artifacts in the care of collecting institutions such as museums, historical societies, libraries, and archives throughout the state.

The map comes fifth on the list for 2016, described as “Cloth Children’s Map of the United States (with National Historical Scenes); 1941; MacArthur Memorial; Norfolk, Virginia–Coastal-Hampton Roads Region.”

“The panel gives particular weight to the historical or cultural significance of the item, its conservation needs, whether it has been assessed, as well as future plans and continued preservation,” said a release from the program. For a complete listing of 2016 honorees, visit www.vatop10artifacts.org .

Hochstetler reports that a part of her parents’ legacy in China continues. “My sister and I along with our husbands visited China in 2011 and found the language school where they [Edward and Helen Angeny] were studying before being sent to the Philippines. This building has been designated as an historical site and classes are still being conducted there.”



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