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Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers, circa 1880-2015
4.5 Linear feet (1 legal-size archives box and two oversize flat boxes)
Collection number: MA.00338

The Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers (circa 1880-2015) contain correspondence, photographs, and scrapbooks related to the lives of Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar and her family, especially her mother, missionary-educator Ruth Porter (Ward) Beach, and sisters, Frances Helen (Beach) Bingham and Elizabeth Waterbury (Beach) Keller. The bulk of the material dates from about 1910-1950.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

Biographical Note

Ruth Porter (Ward) Beach was born on December 10, 1881, in Newton Center, Massachusetts, to Langdon and Laura Bliss Ward. Her father worked for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions for 40 years, 30 of them as treasurer, and her mother was the daughter of Edwin and Isabella Bliss, missionaries in Turkey, and herself briefly a missionary. Ruth was one of 8 children. Langdon Ward died in 1895 when Ruth was 14, and the large, close-knit family soon moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, so that all the children could finish high school and then attend local colleges – Amherst College for the boys and Mt. Holyoke College for the girls. After graduating from Mt. Holyoke in 1903, Ruth studied teaching and music at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City. In late 1907 she sailed for the Foochow Mission in China, where she taught at the Wenshan Girls' School and then at Fukien University. While in China she met and married Reverend Frederick Paul Beach, who had arrived as a missionary to China in 1910, started a boys' school, and then helped establish Fukien University. Ruth and Frederick had three girls – Frances, Ethel (Sandy), and Elizabeth. In 1933 Ruth fell ill and died suddenly of meningitis on January 10.

Frances Helen (Beach) Bingham was born in China on May 19, 1912. She spent most of her youth in China, including boarding school in Shanghai. In 1929 Frances left China to attend school in the United States. She graduated from Mt. Holyoke College in 1933 and then studied sacred music at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. There, she met Brewster Bingham, whom she married in 1934. In 1935 the couple went to China as Congregational missionaries, where they worked until 1940, when events in China during World War II forced them to leave. Soon after their return to the United States, they met Frank N. Buchman, the founder of the Oxford Group, later known as Moral Re-Armament (MRA), "a Christian revolution for remaking the world" (Buchman, from his collected speeches titled "Remaking the World"), regarded by others as a religious cult (Frances addresses this issue in her letters in the collection). The Binghams dedicated themselves to working closely with Buchman and his group for the rest of their lives – the scrapbook in Box OS2 called "The Story of Frances Brewster Bingham" outlines their experience with the group.

Frances Bingham died on April 22, 2000.

Ethel Bliss (Beach) Socolar was born on May 31, 1916 in Oberlin, Ohio, while her parents were on furlough from their missionary work in China. Ethel – known since her undergraduate years as Sandy – spent her childhood in China: "Diongloh, then Fuzhou, then downriver on the campus of Fukien Christian University. Summers on Kuliang" (Sandy Socolar, for her Shanghai American School Reunion, Box 1, Folder 18). Her first year of college was at Yenching University; she then spent a year at Oberlin College before she transferred to Smith College, from which she graduated in 1937. Sandy received a Master's degree in group work and worker education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and then worked for several years. In 1950 she began graduate work in pediatric medical social work at the University of Chicago, the start of a long career in early child development issues. While in Chicago she met Dr. Sidney J. Socolar, a biophysicist. The couple married in 1951 and had two children, Paul and Deborah. They moved to New York City in 1957 and have remained in the city and continued to work at their careers ever since – at 100 years old, Sandy was still working on issues of social justice.

The youngest of the Beach daughters, Elizabeth Waterbury (Beach) Keller, was born in Foochow, China, on December 28, 1917. Her childhood was spent in China, and she graduated from Shanghai American School and then attended her first year of college at Fukien University. Like other members of her family, she studied for a time at Oberlin College and then finished her degree at the University of Chicago, graduating in 1940. In 1946 she received a Master's from George Washington University, and in 1948 she received a Ph.D. from Cornell University Medical College in New York. She worked as a biochemist in several institutions, including at Cornell University, where she was a professor in molecular biology from 1965 to her retirement in 1988, after which she continued to do research throughout her retirement. Part of Keller's work at Cornell included formulating a model – the "cloverleaf model" -- for the way amino acids transfer and link together into proteins.

Elizabeth Beach married Geoffrey Keller, an astronomer, in 1941. The couple divorced by 1950, although the circa 1940-1975 scrapbook in Box OS3 suggests that Elizabeth remained close to the Keller family. Keller died in 1997.

Scope and Contents

The Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers contain correspondence, documents, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, and photographs related to the personal and professional lives of Sandy Socolar, Ruth Beach (Sandy's mother), and Frances Bingham and Elizabeth Keller (Sandy's sisters). The Beaches may be considered as a "missionary family" in China in the early 20th century, although the term is somewhat misleading as it doesn't suggest the full extent of the education and professionalism of the Beaches. Two of the Beach daughters were born in China, and all three spent most of their youths there before finishing college in the United States. The papers document the Beach family together in China as well as the later lives of all three daughters. Frances and Elizabeth's lives are well documented, especially Frances's interest in Frank Buchman's Moral Re-Armament movement and her life with Brewster Bingham (himself from a family of missionaries to Hawaii), and Elizabeth's college years at Oberlin and her later career as a biochemist. Sandy's family life with Sidney J. Socolar and her half-century career in early child development are documented in copies of several newspaper articles as well as a lengthy course paper derived from interviews with Sandy by Alice Colby, a neighbor and – at the time – a student at Teachers College in New York. Colby's work provides many biographical details about Sandy's life as well as her views about the social and political events during her lifetime. The Archives and Special Collections also holds mp3 files of the original interviews, which may be consulted through a request to any of the archivists in the department.

The papers are divided into three series:

Series 1, Correspondence (1904-1989)

Series 2, Biographical Materials (1930-2016)

Series 3, Photographs and Scrapbooks (1881-1980)

See descriptions of the contents of each series in the relevant sections in the list below.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection: [Identification of item], in Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers, Box [#], Folder [#], Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library.

History of the Collection

The Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers were donated by Sandy Socolar in 2016.

Processing Information

The Ethel "Sandy" (Beach) Socolar Family Papers were processed in 2017-2018 by Margaret R. Dakin, Archives and Special Collections Specialist.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Phone: (413) 542-2299
Fax: (413) 542-2692

Email Reference Form:
Related Materials

Related family collections in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections:

William Earl Dodge Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers

Dora Judd Mattoon Ward Papers

Edwin St. John Ward (AC 1900) Papers

Paul L. Ward (AC 1933) Papers

Mark Hopkins Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers (unprocessed collection; consult the archivists)

Edwin and Isabella Bliss Correspondence Collection

Related Materials at Other Institutions

Laura D. Ward Papers (Mt. Holyoke College)

Mary I. Ward Papers (Mt. Holyoke College)

Charlotte Edwards Allen Ward Papers (Mt. Holyoke College)

Edwin Munsell Bliss Papers (Yale University)

Madeline and Winthrop Goddard Hall Papers, 1907-1957 (UMass-Amherst)

International Mission Photography Archive (University of Southern California)

The China Records Project at the Yale Divinity School Library

Contents List
Series 1: Correspondence

Box 1

Series 1, Correspondence (1904-1989), contains primarily Ruth's correspondence to her mother and sister during her college years, her first months in China, during a furlough during World War I, and after her return to China when the war ended. Topics in the letters include: the teaching Ruth and her husband did in China; the quality of teachers and the effort to modernize teaching methods; daily living in China (such as finding a source of drinking water, working with servants, bringing up children, building a new house, Fred's garden, events at school, learning Chinese, and scheduling mail -- at one point Ruth mentions having written 70 letters over the course of the summer). The letters also discuss the politics of the mission, including drawing up a new constitution, and the "Union Kindergarten Constitution," etc.

The series also contains a folder with a few letters from Ruth's sister-in-law Helen Ward; a folder containing a card from Ruth's youngest daughter, Elizabeth; and a folder of six letters from Frances Bingham to friends and family, several of them describing her attachment to the Moral Re-Armament group of Frank Buchman.

In the list below, Ruth's correspondence appears in chronological order first, followed by chronological correspondence from others.

Ward, Ruth P. to Laura Ward (mother)
circa 1904-1905

Box 1: folder 1
Ward, Ruth P. to Laura Ward (mother)

Box 1: folder 2
Ward, Ruth P. to Laura Ward (sister)
1907 Dec; 1908 Jan

Box 1: folder 3

Setting sail for China (Dec); getting settled at Ponasang Girls High School in China (Jan).

Beach, Ruth P. (Ward) to Laura Ward (sister)
1915 Oct, Dec; 1916 Apr

Box 1: folder 4

From North Haven, Conn., and Oberlin, Ohio, probably while on furlough. Subjects include difficulties getting the church women to pay her salary (Oct) and speaking to church women to raise money (Apr).

Beach, Ruth P. (Ward) to family
1917 Mar, Oct

Box 1: folder 5

Two typescript letters, "the Beginning of the Series of China Bulletins, 1917." Fragile originals, PDF available.

Beach, Ruth P. (Ward) to "Friends of the Leaven Club"
1917 Apr, Dec

Box 1: folder 6

Two typescript letters from China. Fragile originals, PDF available.

Beach, Ruth P. (Ward) to family
1918 Sep-Nov

Box 1: folder 7

Letters from China, continued. Fragile originals, PDF available.

Beach, Ruth P. (Ward): postscript [to Sep 10, 1918 letter?]

Box 1: folder 8

Letters from China, continued. Fragile originals, PDF available.

Beach, Ruth P. (Ward) to family and friends

Box 1: folder 9

Letters from China, continued. Fragile originals, PDF available.

Ward, Helen A. (Ward), wife of Paul T.B. Ward (AC1899) to sister-in-law Ruth P. (Ward) Beach
circa 1915-1932

Box 1: folder 10
Keller, Elizabeth W. (Beach): Christmas greeting

Box 1: folder 11

A holiday greeting to friends: mentions her work as Emeritus Professor overseeing students' research; new building at Cornell with state-of-the-art labs including a "network of Macintosh computers by which we send messages to one another in the building or via Telnet to other institutions."

Bingham, Frances H. (Beach): Correspondence

Box 1: folder 12

Several letters from Frances to various people, many including descriptions of her interest in and experiences with Buchmanism.

Search Terms

Series 2: Biographical Materials

Box 1

Series 2, Biographical Materials (1930-2016), contains assorted biographical materials for the four women of the collection. The material includes newspaper obituaries, genealogical information, brief reminiscences, and copies of a few forms that include biographical information. The scrapbooks in Series 3 should also be consulted for biographical materials.

Bingham, Frances H. (Beach): Biographical materials
circa 1930-1995

Box 1: folder 13

Biographical materials including brief reminiscences, genealogical information, obituaries, etc.

Beach, Ruth P. (Ward): "Missionary Herald" obituary

Box 1: folder 14
Fellowships in the name of Ward-Beach family members ("The Cornell Tradition")
circa 1980s

Box 1: folder 15
Keller, Elizabeth W. (Beach): Obituaries

Box 1: folder 16
Socolar, Sandy B. (Beach): "Life History Analysis" by Alice Colby

Box 1: folder 17

Sociology course paper for Teachers College, New York, by Alice Colby. Alice interviewed Sandy Socolar for this paper -- the Archives also holds mp3 files of the interviews.

Socolar, Sandy B. (Beach): Biographical materials
2016-2017; undated

Box 1: folder 18

Articles about Sandy and Sid Socolar in various publications; biographical information provided for the Shanghai American School Reunion.

Series 3: Photographs and Scrapbooks

Box Archives document box 1 and oversize 2 and oversize 3

Series 3, Photographs and Scrapbooks (1881-1980), contains miscellaneous loose photographs as well as scrapbooks of mixed materials. Photographs are grouped and described first in the list below, followed by the scrapbooks. Three of the scrapbooks were France Bingham's and three were Elizabeth Keller's. All of the scrapbooks are well organized and provide a very accessible entry point to the women's biographies. The contents of each scrapbook are described more fully next to their respective entries in the list below.

Researchers should note that there are many other photographs of the Ward-Beach family in the William Earl Dodge Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers, especially in the recent addition of Earl's negatives and their digitized files from his nephew Richard S. Ward (AC 1942).

Photographs: Ward family subjects
1881, [1906]

Box 1: folder 19

One cabinet card photograph dated 1881 of the Ward family home in Brookline, Mass. Another copy of this photograph is in the William Earl Dodge Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers.

One snapshot of the Ward family at a commencement in Amherst, either Mark and Earl's Amherst College commencement in 1906 or perhaps Laura's from Amherst High School. Left to right, Earl, Paul, Helen with Theodore, Mark, Laura (mother), Laura, and Ruth.

Photographs: Ruth P. (Ward) Beach
circa 1905-1930

Box 1: folder 20

Youthful portrait-style photographs; a photograph of Ruth on vacation in [Huangluo?], China; snapshot from Ruth's wedding dinner; later photograph of Frederick Beach and [Edwin] Smith in Kuliang.

Photographs: China subjects
circa 1910-1911; 1980

Box 1: folder 21

Three photographs:

Foochow (Fuzhou) "scene in Dr. K's clinic during or just after the fighting" (in the Nov 1911 revolution). Identified people include Dr. Hatfield, [Methodist] Mission; Dr. and Mrs. Kinnear; "sailor from gunboat assisting"; and Miss Hook of the English Mission.

Entrance to "Wenshan School, Foochow," with a group of students; the school "where Ruth taught."

"Min River, c. 1980"

Search Terms
China--History--Revolution, 1911-1912

Photographs: Frances H. (Beach) Bingham and others
circa 1930-1972

Box 1: folder 22

Photographs of Frances and her husband Brewster Bingham. Several photographs show them with Frank Buchman, the founder of Buchmanism, with whom the Binghams were close. Locations include the United States and Kuliang, China, the latter during the period when Frances taught there (1930s). Many photographs were identified by Sandy Socolar.

Search Terms
Buchman, Frank, 1878-1961


Photograph: Foochow Mission Group

Box 1: folder 23
"Scrap Book" by Frances H. (Beach) Bingham
circa 1915-1925

O.S. Box 2

Thin black "Scrap Book" designated by Sandy Socolar as "Fran's." Contains early 20th-century postcards of buildings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Lansing, Michigan; birthday cards; notes from friends; photographs (most unidentified); "Cradle Roll" documents (promotion and Sunday School certificates) associated with the Second Congregational Church; a typescript copy of "An Indian Home on the Tanana" by Charles H.J. Bliss dedicated to Frances Beach at Christmas, 1916; three report cards; a program for the "Missionary May Festival" at Union Church in Boston, 1922; a musical programme and menu associated with a Japanese passenger ship (Feb 1923); a letter from grandfather Wilbur J. Beach; snapshots from a 1921 assembly, probably in Foochow; Feb 1929 issue of the "SAS Nooze" featuring an article "Popularity and Other Superlative Votes Surprizing"; a few examples of school work.

Keller, Elizabeth Waterbury (Beach), 1918-1997, Scrapbook: Bliss-Ward Family, by Elizabeth W. (Beach) Keller
circa 1915-1980

O.S. Box 2

Cloth-covered album assembled by Elizabeth Keller with substantial genealogical content about the Bliss and Ward families, including original and copied correspondence by and about family members; obituaries; artwork; documents; photographs; publications, and charts.

Search Terms
Bliss family

Bliss, William Dwight Porter, 1856-1926


Ward family.

Ward, William Earl Dodge, 1884-1977 (AC 1906)

Photograph album by Frances H. (Beach) Bingham, especially re China and the "Bingham Camp" in Salem, CT.
circa 1920-1935

O.S. Box 2

Cloth-covered album with loose sheets of mounted photographs. Subjects include: "Kuliang--Fran Bingham and Eunice/Chinese music"; Language School Teachers [Kuliang]; the Binghams and Eunice (teacher) in Kuliang; "Western Hills House Party" (2 sheets of photographs); "Helen and Frances Fulton" [in Kuliang]; "Girls in Training" [in Kuliang]; "Altar of Heaven"; "Eunice and Fran Bingham/Mushgrow"; "Bingham Camp-Salem."

Search Terms
Missionaries -- China.

Scrapbook of Elizabeth W. (Beach) Keller (green-cold boucle cloth, beginning with "Oberlin/U. of Chicago")
circa 1935-1940

O.S. Box 3

Contains correspondence from Elizabeth (Betty) to family members (her father, sisters, etc.) from her college years at Oberlin. Correspondence to her from Frederick Beach (father); materials relating to the death of Frederick Beach in 1937; postcards, photographs, etc.

Search Terms
Oberlin College

Keller, Elizabeth Waterbury (Beach), 1918-1997, Scrapbook by Elizabeth W. (Beach) Keller
circa 1940-1975

O.S. Box 3

Personal scrapbook containing letters from Geoffrey Keller and his mother Evelyn; marriage certificate; photographs (including 10" x 13" photograph of Elizabeth in her wedding dress, 1941); correspondence from friends, family, and colleagues; material relating to Elizabeth's career in biochemistry; applications for fellowships, etc., containing biographical information.

Search Terms
Keller, Evelyn Miles, 1890-1961

Keller, Franklin J. (Franklin Jefferson), 1887-1976

Keller, Geoffrey, 1918-

Bingham, Brewster, 1908-1995, Scrapbook/photographic album: "The Story of Frances Beach Bingham" (by her husband)
circa 1965

O.S. Box 2

"The Story of Frances Beach Bingham, past, present, and future, by her grateful husband." Contains many photographs, all of them captioned as part of a story, rather than details of the specific photograph. Contains photographs of the Beach family, of places and events important to the Binghams, and of friends of the Binghams, with some emphasis on their relationship with Frank N. D. Buchman.

Scrapbook covers

O.S. Box 3

Empty cloth-covers with "Science and Scientists" penned inside. Probably Elizabeth Keller's.

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Buchmanism
  • Child care--New York (State)--New York.
  • Early child development and care
  • Education, Preschool
  • Education--China--History
  • Missionaries -- China
  • Moral re-armament
  • Women -- Education -- United States -- History -- Sources
  • Women biochemists
  • Women missionaries

  • Beach, Ruth Porter (Ward), 1881-1933
  • Beach, Frederick Paul, Rev., 1876-1937
  • Bingham, Frances Helen (Beach), 1912-2000
  • Keller, Elizabeth Waterbury (Beach), 1918-1997
  • Socolar, Ethel "Sandy" (Beach), 1916-

Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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