Mabel Nellie Jeffs Brown (Nell) was born in Mapleton, Queensland, Australia on November 12, 1912. In her autobiography she says of her parents, 'like Nephi of old I was born of goodly parents and am grateful for my heritage.' For the next 14 years, Nellie lived with her sister and two brothers on a fruit and dairy farm. The years that her siblings were born are unclear, but she mentions having five more younger brothers. When Nellie was 8, her family was introduced to the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After a dramatic conversion, the whole family was baptized in 1920. Tragically in 1924, Nellie's mother passed away. While Nellie's older sister went to work in the Post Office, 12-year-old Nellie stayed home with the 5 little boys, the youngest only 10 days old. She was only able to remain in school until she was 14, which is when she started working in a boarding house as a kitchen maid, house maid, and waitress 7 days a week. Later she was employed in Brisbane working different jobs. When Nellie turned 25 she married Harold Brown who worked in the timber business. At one time, Harold was conscripted by the government to build air strips for World War II outside of Townsville; Nellie had already given birth to two sons and delivered their third in Harold's absence. Soon the family was reunited and they lived for the next two years in tents provided by the government. Due to complications before Lloyd, the third son, was born, Nellie was very sick for these two years. Eventually she was hospitalized for 18 weeks, and Harold was released from his duties with the Main Roads workforce. After the close of the war, Nellie and Harold had two more sons, Darryl and Wesley. Times were very difficult, and the family seemed to face one trial after another. The family began working on a farm in Mapleton: milking 80 cows, feeding pigs and calves, and walking 7½ miles to church each Sunday. Though Harold was not yet a member of the church, Nellie and the family had the gospel as their focus. After 8 months on the farm, Nellie delivered a daughter. Then in 1957, the family moved to Ipswich, where the older boys began trade school. The family remained in Ipswich where Harold was afflicted with much sickness. Miraculously, he was healed and the family was sealed in the New Zealand Temple on October 5, 1976.
This collection reflects the events in Mabel Nellie Jeffs Brown's life. Mrs. Brown has enclosed a small note describing the collection. She writes, '12 photos, 3 of my many certificates and awards, and a poem which I wrote.' The three certificates were received through Nellie's service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One is a teacher development certificate, which Nellie received after course completion. The other two certificates are for Primary Service and Speech. The photos are not labeled and are copied onto white paper. Several of the photos are taken outside the New Zealand Temple. There is one photo, a portrait of Nellie, on which she has written 'Best Wishes from Nell.' The collection also includes a typed autobiography which Nellie wrote in 1978. Its 19 pages portray her life and the lives of those around her. Nellie writes about her family's conversion to the LDS Church and how at first, her family believed that their converted relative, Auntie May, had disgraced the family. Auntie May, who lived with Nellie's family, soon had the missionaries over, and Nellie's father threatened them with strong words. 'If you're the sort of blokes I think you are, you'll never leave this house alive. I'll run this bayonet through you.' Nellie tells of how the missionaries soon came to live with them and how she would lay awake at nights and listen as they told about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. During her teenage years she was very active in the Church and it was the center of her social and spiritual life. When she was 19 she moved to Nambour, a large town eight miles from Mapleton. She stayed there for two years, active in church and missionary work. Nellie also tells of her married life and the long conversion process of her husband, Harold. She describes many other trials the family faced: poverty, sickness, floods, and heartache. But she also shows how she continually discovered the joys of life. Her entire autobiography is centered around her feelings for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and how through living the teachings of its doctrines, Nellie and her family continually found support in their trials and happiness in experience.