Shank, Emma Elizabeth Hershey (1881-1939)

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J. W. & Emma Shank, with their children Elsa, Robert and Pablo in 1923.
Scan courtesy Mennonite Church USA Archives-Goshen.

The daughter of Jacob M. and Mary (Eby) Hershey, Emma Elizabeth Hershey Shank, b. 11 August 1881, d. December 1939, was the first Mennonite Church (MC) missionary to die in South America. She is buried at Pehuajó. She lived in central Argentina 22 years with her husband J. W. Shank whom she married in 1910. She was a public school teacher for 11 years in Missouri and Colorado.

Noted for homemaking skills and loyalty to her family (Elsie, Robert, and Paul), Emma also provided care for boarding students living in her home and, as matron, for orphanage girls. Weakened by typhoid fever, she also endured multiple family separations.

Emma began and managed a kindergarten, inspired Argentine Bible readers during home visits, and prepared with care to lead women's meetings. Her descriptions of Argentine life are picturesque. She wished North Americans to read about mission efforts in order to be good neighbors, to sense spiritual kinship, and to be informed in prayer.


Gamber, Selena. "In Memoriam—Emma Hershey Shank." Missionary Sewing Circle Letter 10, no. 11 (May 1940).

Shank, Emma Hershey. "From South America." Missionary Sewing Circle Letter 2, no. 3 (March 1932).

Shank, Emma Hershey. "Scenes from our Window." Gospel Herald (1 August 1918): 321.

Shank, J. W. "Autobiographical Notes." [also titled: "Establishing Christ's Church Under the Southern Cross] Typescript, Hesston, Kansas, 1969.

Author(s) Dorothy Yoder Nyce
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

MLA style

Nyce, Dorothy Yoder. "Shank, Emma Elizabeth Hershey (1881-1939)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 28 Nov 2021.,_Emma_Elizabeth_Hershey_(1881-1939)&oldid=104880.

APA style

Nyce, Dorothy Yoder. (1989). Shank, Emma Elizabeth Hershey (1881-1939). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 28 November 2021, from,_Emma_Elizabeth_Hershey_(1881-1939)&oldid=104880.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 818. All rights reserved.

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