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Purington correspondence, 1926-1927.
4 folders
Collection number: MS 0578 (LD 7082.18 Purington)

Purington, Florence, 1862-1950; College administrator and teacher. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary graduate, 1886. Mount Holyoke College faculty member and administrator, 1887-1929. Papers consist of transcripts of letters to family members. Primarily documenting her travels to India, China and Japan and her observations of social conditions in each country and the work of missionaries.

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Florence Purington was born on August 12, 1862 in Burnt Hills, New York. She graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1886 and began her own private school in Waterford, Connecticut. In 1887 she became an Instructor of Mathematics at Mount Holyoke. She received a B.S. from Mount Holyoke in 1896. In 1902 she changed positions to become the appointment secretary. She was appointed Dean of the College in 1907, a position she held until 1929. She also became a member of the Board of Trustees in 1925. Florence Purington died on May 22, 1950, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Florence Purington Papers consist of correspondence, biographical information, and photographs. The material primarily relates to her work as the first Dean of Mount Holyoke College and to her voyage around the world in 1926-1927. One portion of the correspondence consists of letters regarding Purington's work at Mount Holyoke College. These letters often relate to the college community's affection for Purington. Included is a letter from her replying to Mount Holyoke College president Mary Emma Woolley's suggestion that Purington's house be renamed "The Purington House." Several letters comprise correspondence between Purington and the Alumnae Association, in which she is urging the members of various classes to collect contributions from their classmates. Another substantial portion of the correspondence consists of a typed transcript of letters written to family members and friends during her yearlong trip around the world, which she took with Mount Holyoke College Registrar Caroline Greene. The letters predominantly reflect Purington's observations of Asian cultures, including her reactions to people, food, clothing, religion, and socioeconomic conditions in Japan, Korea, China, and India. Purington saw many hospitals during her travels and witnessed the cultural impacts on medical care in these countries. These letters display Purington's interest in missionary work through her descriptions of visits to numerous missions and mission schools throughout her travels. A small portion of the letters reveals her reactions to Cairo, Egypt, Italy, and other parts of Europe. She also discusses the people with whom she stayed, including several families of Mount Holyoke prospective students, students, and alumnae. The biographical information consists largely of newspaper articles documenting her professional accomplishments at Mount Holyoke College. Much of the material was written about her retirement in 1929 and continues to reflect the college community's appreciation of Purington's work. The photographs consist primarily of formal portraits of Purington, ranging from her graduation in 1886 until her death in 1950.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
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Preferred Citation

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

Florence Purington Correspondence, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts

History of the Collection

Additional Information
Contact Information
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

Email Reference Form:
Encoding funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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.

  • Purington, Florence, 1862-1950.
  • China - Description and travel - 1901-1948 - Sources.
  • China - Social conditions - 1912-1949 - Sources.
  • Education - China - History - Sources.
  • Education - India - History - Sources.
  • Education - Japan - History - Sources.
  • India - Description and travel - Sources.
  • India - Social conditions - Sources.
  • Japan - Description and travel - 1901-1945 - Sources.
  • Japan - Social conditions - 1912-1945 - Sources.
  • Korea.
  • Medical care - China - History - Sources.
  • Medical care - India - History - Sources.
  • Medical care - Japan - History - Sources.
  • Missionaries - China - History - Sources.
  • Missionaries - India - History - Sources.
  • Missionaries - Japan - History - Sources.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Alumnae - Chinese alumnae.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Alumnae - Japanese alumnae.
  • Transportation and travel.
  • United States Department of Labor.

  • Parker, Ruth E. (Mrs. Emmons E. White), Class of 1917.

Genre terms
  • Letters- Collections

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