Five College Archives and Manuscript
Mount Holyoke College seal
Ferguson Papers, 1861-1919.
1 box (2.5 linear in.)
Collection number: MS 0687 (LD 7096.6 1856 Ferguson)

Ferguson, Abbie Park, 1837-1919; Teacher and missionary. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary graduate, 1856. Papers consist of correspondence, devotional book, clippings, biographical information, and photographs. Primarily documenting the founding of the Huguenot Seminary, South Africa, its history and her activities there. Also contains a correspondence by Anna Bliss, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary graduate, 1862.

Terms of Access and Use:


Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Abbie Park Ferguson was born in Providence RI in 1837. She attended public schools in Whately, Masschusetts and learned from her father, Rev. John Ferguson, who was a congreational minister. Ferguson graduated from Mount Holyoke Seminary in 1856. After teaching public school in Connecticut, in 1869 she went to Paris to teach and travel with two American girls. She and the girls were caught between the French and German armies in Geneva during the Franco-Prussian War and were forced to stay in Switzerland for a few months. In 1871, Ferguson returned to Connecticut and worked in city missions. At the invitation of Rev. Andrew Murray, she and Anna Bliss, class of 1862, sailed to Cape Town, South Africa in the fall of 1873, and in 1874, they founded the Huguenot Seminary in Wellington, Cape Colony, South Africa. Huguenot Seminary was the first institution of higher learning for women in the country, and it was modeled after Mount Holyoke Seminary in many ways; it was "a first class Ladies' Training College" that offered education at a moderate price. Ferguson's brother, Rev. George Ferguson lived with her in Wellington from 1877 to 1896. When not teaching, Ferguson traveled a great deal, visiting Scotland, England, Switzerland, Holland, Egypt, Palestine, the United States and the East coast of Africa. With Freguson as president, Huguenot Seminary became a college in 1898, and it began awarding bachelor of arts degrees to students. Ferguson received an honorary M.A. and Litt. D. from Mount Holyoke College. After retiring in 1910, she worked with alumnae and formed a Women's Interdenominational Missionary Committee for South African churches. Ferguson died at Heguenot in 1919.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Abbie Park Ferguson Papers consist of correspondence, a devotional book, newsletters, transcripts of letters, biographical information, and a photgraph all with particular emphasis on the early history of Huguenot College in Wellington, Cape Colony, South Africa. The papers include information on Huguenot College from its founding until 1918. Of particular interest is Ferguson's correspondence which discusses the growth of Mount Holyoke College in the early thentieth century. A small devotional book written by Ferguson gives her comments on Ephesians. Two newsletters contain articles by Ferguson and also include letters from other missionaries around the world, describing their interactions with and attitudes toward the native peoples. A newsletter clipping contains a photograph of "Founders' Day" at Huguenot College. Transcripts of letters written by and about Ferguson and biological information by Anna Edwards constitute a large part of this collection. A resolution in honor of Ferguson, issued by Huguenot College; a photograph of her father; and a copy of the entry about Ferguson from "Notable American Women" are also included. The papers also contain correspondence by Anna Bliss '62.

This collection is organized into two series:

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


Preferred Citation

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

A. P. Ferguson Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA.

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.

Contents List
Correspondence and Other Writings.,
1 folder


Chronologically by type.

Restrictions on access:


Scope and content:

The series contains Ferguson's class letters and a letter to Mount Holyoke College. In these she writes about Mount Holyoke College's growth in the early thentieth century and the growth of Huguenot College. Ferguson's small dovotional book on Ephesians uses some examples from technology and geology to explain New Testament principles. There are two newsletters containing acticles written Ferguson and Anna Bliss '62, which give news about Huguenot College. There is also a speech declaring the importance of teaching women science. The newsletters also contain letters from other missionaries, mostly from other parts of Africa, describing their missionary activities and interactions with the native peoples. A newpaper clipping contains a photograph of "Founders' Day" at Huguenot College. Also included are Ferguson's notes discussing the founding of Huguenot Seminary.

Correspondence and Other Writings.

Box 1: folder 1
Biographical Material.,
1 folder


Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:


Scope and content:

This series contains biographical material compiled by Anna Edwards, and the transcript of an article about Ferguson, written by Edwards for the Mount Holyoke Quarterly soon after Ferguson's death. There are transcripts of letters, mostly from 1919, which were written by and about Ferguson and compiled by Edwards. Ferguson is also mentioned in the 1896 and 1881 class letters. A copy of the "Notable American Women" entry about Ferguson and a photograph of her father are also included. The series also includes clippings from American newspapers about Huguenot College and Ferguson's death. There is also a resolution in honor of Ferguson, issued by Huguenot College.

Box : folder 1
Biographical Material.

Box 1: folder 2

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