Mackenzie, Jean Kenyon (1874-1936)

Presbyterian missionary in West Africa

Mackenzie was born in Elgin, Illinois, the first child of Robert and Lydia Ann (McLeon) Mackenzie. Her father was a Presbyterian minister. She attended Van Ness Seminary in San Francisco (1888-1890), the Sorbonne (1891-1892), and the University of California at Berkeley (1895-1896).

Mackenzie served under the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. in West Africa from 1904 through 1913. She lived in German Kamerun at Lolodorf and Efulan stations, except for a brief interlude (1908-1909) when she was given a special assignment in the French Gabon at Baraka station on the Ogowe River. She worked primarily with the rapidly growing mission schools and with African women, doing extensive itineration throughout the villages of the rainforest.

In 1914 she returned to New York City because of illness. Thereafter she devoted full time to writing and made only one further visit to Kamerun, for 18 months between 1916 and 1918. A gifted writer, she published numerous articles, chiefly in the Atlantic Monthly and in Women’s Work, a journal of the women’s missionary societies of the Presbyterian Church. Author of seven books, she had unusual insight into the life and character of Africans, and few people of her generation did more to stir American Protestant interest in the missionary challenge of West Africa.

Norman A. Horner, “Mackenzie, Jean Kenyon,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 425.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.



Mackenzie, Jean Kenyon. An African Trail. 1917

_____. African Adventurers. 1917.

_____. Black Sheep. 1916.


Mackenzie, Jean Kenyon. African Clearings. 1924.

_____. The Venture. 1925.

_____ (ed.). Friends of Africa. 1928.

_____. The Trader’s Wife. 1930.