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A Family Tradition: Dora Giffen, Missionary to Egypt

Dora Eunice Giffen (1897-1982) was born on January 15, 1897 at the Pressley Memorial Institute (PMI), Asyut, Egypt, to missionary parents. A number of other members of her family, including her uncle John Giffen and his family, were also missionaries in various countries around the world. It might be said that this imprint of missionary work stayed with her, as Giffen would come to return to Egypt to work independently after graduating college at the age of 23. For six years, she served as a teacher in various schools in the Cairo area, as well as in the cities of Fayoum and Tanta.

Though the details of Giffen's missionary work are somewhat elusive in her papers, the visual evidence of her travels to and around Egypt are quite interesting. They reveal what living in Egypt as an American woman at this time might have been like, and who might have been included in one's social circles. It seems that Dora Giffen's social and work lives were effectively separate, and that her social life was almost entirely composed of fellow American missionaries.

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