Una Roberts was born in Gainesville, Arkansas, August 6, 1893, the oldest child of Hulette Wayman and Mary Moffitt Roberts. H.W. Roberts was a teacher and Una was educated under his private tutoring until her senior year of high school when she attended Cabot High School, Cabot, Arkansas, graduating in 1909.
Una had completed her freshman year in Ouachita Baptist College in 1910, when a serious illness resulting from a fall when she was ten years old prevented further college attendance. So, she began the study of music, and graduated from Baars Music Studios, Little Rock, in June of 1913. She then taught music and other high school subjects at Cabot, DeValls Bluff, and Ward. In 1916 Una Roberts entered Central College, Conway, Arkansas, graduating with an A.B. in 1918. One year later she earned a B.M.T. from W.M.U. Training School in Louisville, Kentucky.
At age ten, Una Roberts was baptized by Dr. Hardy L. Winburn at First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, Arkansas. In her early teens she felt the call to the mission field and volunteered while at Ouachita Baptist College in 1910 in a service held by Dr. L. R. Scarborough. Una was active in church life, particularly in the development of Sunbeam Bands and Royal Ambassadors, and became editor of the children's page of the Baptist Advance in 1915. In 1916, she was elected Superintendent of the department of Sunbeams and Royal Ambassadors for the Woman's Missionary Union of Arkansas, doing considerable writing in the field of missionary education during the next few years.
Under the guidance of Mrs. J. G. (Dixie) Jackson, Secretary of the Woman's Missionary Union, Una continued this volunteer service during her years of teaching and study in college and training school (1916-1919), doing field work for the Arkansas W.M.U. for a small salary in the summer months. The after-effects of the illness which delayed completion of college also prevented her appointment to Brazil by the Foreign Mission Board when she applied upon graduation from the training school in 1919. Una Roberts turned to the field of missionary education, preparing herself through newspaper and editorial training and experience for service in development of the W.M.U. missionary organizations and the provision of missionary literature for them.
In addition to her many articles, brochures, and other works, Una Roberts Lawrence wrote twenty-eight books. The best-known is probably "Lottie Moon," a biography of the missionary. Throughout her career she performed extensive volunteer work in the field of missions, including four trips to Cuba and a speaking tour of Brazil. In the late 1930s President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Una Lawrence to the Special Commission on Farm Tenancy.
Una Roberts married L. Irvin Lawrence February 20, 1921, a construction engineer and railroad employee, after a six-year courtship and lived in Kansas City, Missouri, for about forty years. Una Moffitt Roberts Lawrence died in Little Rock, Arkansas, January 13, 1972, after living in a nursing home for about a year. At the time of her death, she was a member of Winnwood Baptist Church, Kansas City, and was buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery there.
This collection contains correspondence, writings, photographs, and other personal items pertaining to the life and career of Una Moffitt Roberts Lawrence. Of particular significance are dozens of letters from Lucille Kerrigan, missionary to Cuba expelled from that country in 1963. The letters cover Kerrigan's time on the mission field and after her return to the United States.
Archivists, "Una Moffitt Roberts Lawrence Paper" (2018). Guides and Finding Aids. 145.