Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
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.

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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:

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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

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