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Mount Holyoke College missionaries collection

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 29

Scope and Contents

The Mount Holyoke College Missionary Collection brings together a wide range of publications, documents, and photographs relating to missionary work of alumnae and others throughout the world from about 1841 to the present. These materials are arranged in the following series: Books, Articles, and Other Writings; Correspondence, Lists, Notes, and Memoranda; Missionary Work by Country; Records of Contributions Supporting Missionary Work; a song called the Missionary Call; and an Autograph Album.

Books, Articles, and Other Writings (circa 1880s-present) consist of a variety of published and unpublished materials. These items include books and articles about the work of missionaries, an atlas containing information about mission stations, and reports and other publications issued by the ABCFM and other organizations.

Correspondence, Lists, Notes, and Memoranda (1876-present) concern the work of Mount Holyoke alumnae missionaries. Many of these documents reflect the research of Bertha E. Blakely (1893) after her retirement as director of Mount Holyoke's library in 1936.

The Missionary Work by Country series (circa 1878-present) contains reports, correspondence, articles, a dissertation, a student paper, notes, historical sketches, biographical information, lists, and photographs concerning the work of Mount Holyoke alumnae and other missionaries in different countries. Many of the notes were prepared by Anna C. Edwards (1859). The series includes publications by several mission boards and societies. Most of the materials concern mission work in Africa, China, Hawaii, India, Japan, and Turkey and with Freedmen and other African Americans and Native Americans in the United States.

Records of Contributions Supporting Missionary Work (circa 1841-1902) document the financial support provided by that Mount Holyoke administrators, teachers, and students. Records for 1871-1890 also include summaries of the Religious state of the school during that period.

The Song (1847) consists of words and music for The Missionary Call that students sang at a meeting of returning missionaries held at Mount Holyoke on June 30, 1859.

The Autograph Album (1859-1887) contains signatures of those who attended meetings of missionaries at Mount Holyoke. Other signatures were clipped from letters and pasted into this volume.


  • Creation: 1841

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Use of the collection is governed by the Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S.C.)

Historical Note

In an 1835 pamphlet outlining her plans for Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Mary Lyon stated that one of the goals of the school would be "to cultivate the missionary spirit among its pupils." Soon after the Seminary opened on November 8, 1837 alumnae began serving as missionaries in the United States and in other countries, where they opened and staffed influential schools, brought aid to orphans and others, and supported social reforms to improve the lives of girls and women. Alumnae were affiliated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a Congregational Church organization founded in 1810, or with the missionary boards of other Protestant denominations. The first alumna missionary was Charlotte Bailey (1838), who worked with her husband, Aldin Grout, among the Zulus in South Africa. Other notable foreign missionaries during the nineteenth century were Fidelia Fiske (1842, Persia); Lyon's nieces Abigail Moore Burgess (1838, India) and Lucy Lyon Lord (1840, China); Charlotte and Mary Ely (1861, Armenia); Alice Gordon Gulick (1867, Spain); and Mary Otis Preston Spafford (1879, South Africa). Alumnae were also missionaries to the Cherokee and other Native Americans and to former African American slaves. Members of the Mount Holyoke community actively supported this work by raising funds for alumnae missionaries and establishing a number of organizations for students interested in missionary service, including the Student Volunteer Band and the College's chapter of the Young Women's Christian Association. Many missionaries and officials from mission boards also presented lectures and programs at Mount Holyoke.

The missionary service of alumnae continued in the twentieth century, exemplified by the work of Alice Browne Frame (1900) in China, Charlotte Allen Ward (1903) in Lebanon and Turkey, Ruth Parker White (1917) in India, Katharine Merrill (1917) in Japan, and Leila Childs Edling (1917) in Angola. Elsie Kimball (1909) and numerous other alumnae supported Near East Relief efforts in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia during and after World War I, while Grace Bacon (1918), Florence Brugger (1922), and many other Mount Holyoke women worked for the American Red Cross and other organizations during both world wars. Beginning in the 1960s, Gena Lee Reisner (1964) and other alumnae demonstrated the College's missionary spirit by joining the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and other initiatives designed to bring education and health care to those in need. Mount Holyoke students such as Sandra Nichols Ward (1965) engaged in this work as undergraduates by participating in Operation Crossroads Africa and similar programs.


7.17 Linear Feet (8 full Hollinger, 4 half Hollinger, and 2 specialty boxes; 1 volume)

Language of Materials



Consists of books, articles, and other publications, unpublished papers, correspondence, notes, lists, biographical data sheets, records of financial contributions, words and music for a song entitled The Missionary Call, an autograph album, a photograph album, and photographs. Materials concern the work of missionaries (particularly Mount Holyoke College alumnae) in Africa, China, Hawaii, India, Japan, Turkey, the United States, and elsewhere, circa 1841-present. Includes information about their work with Native Americans and African Americans as well as schools founded by missionaries.

Processing Information

Processed by Patricia J. Albright, 2008.

Mount Holyoke College Missionaries Collection
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Patricia J. Albright.
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Repository Details

Part of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Repository

50 College Street
8 Dwight Hall
South Hadley MA 01075-6425 USA