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A Mission of Love: Aetna Emmel and Zenas Olson in India by Elizabeth Ann Olson Hill
Pictures and letters recently discovered from two Americans living under the Raj in India, 1919-1927

During Aetna and Zenas’ romance and early years of marriage, hundreds of letters and postcards were exchanged.  For the “home folks” back in Oregon, the arrival of the postman meant more than just news.  Envelopes held bits and pieces of people’s lives and everything from swatches of fabric for a new skirt, to gifts of dried leaves, helped close the gap between continents.

Photographs made marriages and births  become real, and Aetna had a fondness for the craft.  Her father, Charles Emmel, was an early photographer in the 1850s, and had a big influence on his daughter.  In this way, places as different as “Ootacamund,” or “Ooty,” a lush hill station of the British Raj, and the shabby streets of Kolar where beggars smiled into the lens, were confidently documented on Aetna’s box camera. 

These pictures and the letters in the chapters give more than a glimpse of the life Aetna and Zenas lived in India.  Through them, readers are transported back in time.

A Mission of Love is beautifully layed out inside with judicious use of color by Jeanne Rawlings. The book is sold as a limited edition two-volume set (see covers below).

Readers may also be interested in The Emmel Chronicles describing more about the family.

A Mission of Love, volume 1 A Mission of Love, volume 2

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