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Kimball papers, 1919-ca. 1950 (Bulk: 1919-1930)
1 box (5 linear in.)
Collection number: MS 0562 (LD 7096.6 x1909 Kimball)

Kimball, Elsie May, 1887-1972; Secretary and missionary. Attended Mount Holyoke College, 1905-1907. Papers consist of correspondence, biographical information and a photograph. Primarily documenting her experience as a missionary in Armenia and the Republic of Georgia including comments of the effects of World War I, revolutions, the Greco-Turkish War and Communism in the region.

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Elsie May Kimball was born on July 23, 1887 in Bennington, New Hampshire, to Fred H. Kimball (who later became a senator in New York) and Leonetta Nichols Kimball. She attended high school in Milford, New Hampshire, then followed her sister, Lorenia M. Kimball, to Mount Holyoke College in 1905. She left in 1907 to study at the School of Art in Boston until 1910. Between 1910 and 1919 she worked as a gas company demonstrator and home missionary in Boston. From 1919-1921 and 1923-1925 she worked for the Near East Relief (N.E.R.) organization in Armenia and the Republic of Georgia. She cared for orphans and refugees, organized soup kitchens, and worked as a secretary for N.E.R. administrators. In 1926, she began working as a clerk and translator for the Georgian Manganese Company, a mining firm with offices in Tchiatouri (C'iatura), Georgia, and Moscow, Russia. She returned to the United States in 1927, and in 1928 she was awarded a medal for her war relief work. She was Superintendent of Stenographers in the Law Department of Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation in New York City for twenty-one years. On October 8, 1955 she married John E. Beck, a chemist. She died on February 28, 1972 in Mount Vernon, New York at the age of eighty-four.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Elsie May Kimball Papers consist of correspondence, biographical information, and a photograph. Most of this material relates to her work as a relief worker and secretary for the Near East Relief (N.E.R.) organization in Armenia and the Republic of Georgia from 1919-1921 and 1923-1925. Of greatest significance are typed transcripts of letters to her mother, Leonetta Nichols Kimball, and sister, Lorenia ("Rene") M. Kimball. Many of the letters include copies of telegrams, letters, reports, and newspaper articles from the N.E.R., friends, fellow workers, her employers, and orphans. In these documents Kimball describes her activities as secretary for two N.E.R. administrators, William N. Haskell and Ernest A. Yarrow, and her life in Tiflis (T'bilisi), Georgia, and Alexandropol (Gyumri), Armenia. She discusses the devastation and poverty in the Near East during and after World War I, the Greco-Turkish War, and revolutions in Armenia, the Soviet Union, and Turkey. She describes massacres of Armenians; the advance of Bolshevik forces in Georgia and Armenia in 1920; and her work with Armenian, Greek, and Russian refugees (particularly orphaned Armenian children) in Akhalkalaki and Batoum (Batumi), Georgia, and in Alexandropol and Kars, Armenia and at the Djalal Oghlou Farm School near Alexandropol. She comments on earthquakes in Tiflis in 1920 and Alexandropol in 1926. In a letter dated August 30, 1919, she mentions spending time with a Mount Holyoke College classmate, Gertrude Knox Wells, who was also doing relief work in the area. In addition, she describes her work and social life during 1926-1927 when she was employed as a clerk and translator by the Georgian Manganese Company, a mining company owned by the William Averell Harriman family with offices in Tchiatouri (Ciat'ura), Georgia and Moscow, Russia. Kimball's letters also describe her journey to the Near East through Italy, Greece, and Turkey in 1919 and her travels in Central Asia in 1927. Other material in these papers includes biographical information, 1921-1930 and circa 1950, chiefly relating to N.E.R. work, and a photograph of a Armenian refugee homes in Russia, circa 1919-1920.

This collection is organized into three series:

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Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Elsie M. Kimball Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

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