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Sprague papers, ca. 1871-1923 (Bulk: 1893-1923)
1 box (2.5 linear in.)
Collection number: MS 0709 (LD 7096.6 1871 Brown)

Abstract:
Sprague, Viette Isabel Brown, 1846-1923; missionary. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary graduate, 1871. Papers consist of correspondence, writings, biographical information and photographs primarily documenting her work as a missionary in China during the Boxer Rebellion and the political rights of Chinese women with special emphasis on foot binding.

Terms of Access and Use:

Unrestricted

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Viette Isabel Brown was born on February 12, 1846 in Newark, Wayne County, New York. She was the third of Hiram Leicester Brown and Hester Ann Bonker's ten children. She attended public school in Newark and then in Shortsville, New York. After graduating from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1871 she taught school in Red Creek, New York; Muncie, Pennsylvania; and Emory, Ohio. In 1893 she went to China and married Reverend William P. Sprague in Tientsin. The Spragues then went to Kalgan in northern China to work at a missionary there. On June 11 in 1900 the Boxer Uprising forced them to flee the mission with a group of nineteen people including other American and Swedish missionaries and children. The group reached Urga, the capital of Mongolia, and then had to move on to Siberia, Moscow and finally St. Petersburg on September 18. The Spragues returned to New York for one furlough and then went back to Kalgan in 1902, staying there until 1910. William Sprague died in 1919 and Viette Brown Sprague spent the rest of her life in Shortsville, New York remaining involved in church activities, missionary organizations and choir. She died on November 2, 1923 at the age of seventy-seven.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Viette Isabel Brown Sprague papers consist of correspondence (original manuscripts or transcript copies), writings, biographical information, and photographs. Most of this material reflects Sprague's work as a missionary in Kalgan in northern China from 1900-1919. In letters written to her friend, Anna C. Edwards, she discusses her work in China as a missionary, as well as the social and political conditions in China during the time of the Boxer Uprising. Her writings include an article on her missionary work and two reports on women's work in Kalgan. In these writings she discusses growing anti-foot binding sentiments and the mission's progress. Her writings and letters are supplemented by more than thirty photographs relating to her work in China. Biographical information includes articles and notes relating to her time in China and two detailed obituaries.

Material from this collection is available in an online digital format.

This collection is organized into four series:


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

Unrestricted

Preferred Citation

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

Viette Brown Sprague 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: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm
URL: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
1900-1919
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

This series consists of letters and two postcards written by Viette Brown Sprague between 1900-1919. The correspondence is addressed chiefly to Anna C. Edwards. Two letters have been transcribed by Edwards (one written to Sprague's Mount Holyoke classmate Frances Dean) and there is one photocopy of an original letter to Edwards (the original is in the photograph folder with photographs pasted to it). Four of the letters were written in Kalgan, China between 1900-1908 describing the Boxer Uprising, social and political conditions in China, China's relations with Japan and the opium trade, the life of missionaries in Kalgan, and Viette Sprague's work as a teacher there. One letter was written in Tabol, Mongolia in 1906 while the Spragues were on vacation with other missionaries, travelling in carts and sleeping in tents. The later letters were written from Shortsville, N.Y. between 1910-1919. One describes her trip back to the United States from China and the rest concern her family and friends in Shortsville.

1905-1908
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

This series consists of the article "Work in Kalgan" by Viette Brown Sprague published in "Life and Light" in October 1905 and two "Reports of Women's Work in Kalgan" from March 31, 1907 and May 31, 1908. "Work in Kalgan" is a brief description of missionary life in Kalgan, China that discusses growing anti-foot binding sentiments and the progress of the mission. In her two reports on women's work, Sprague describes the missionary work of her Swedish and American colleagues, controversy over binding feet, Bible study, a women's college in Peking and the lives of several Chinese women who work at the school with her in Kalgan.

ca.1893-1923
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

This information includes newspaper and magazine articles from 1903-1904 and biographical notes written by Anna C. Edwards from about 1893-1919. There are photocopies of two newpaper articles from around 1900 about the Boxer Uprising and the missionary policy in Kalgan, China towards binding feet. Of particular note are two articles from unidentified publications, "Restoration of Kalgan" by Viette Brown's husband Rev. William P. Sprague, 1903 and "Rebuilding of Kalgan" by an unknown author, 1904. The biographical information by Edwards includes excerpts from Viette Brown's letters and notes about the Spragues and their missionary work. There are also two detailed obituaries from 1923 newspapers describing Viette Brown Sprague's life and work.

ca.1871, ca.1893-1907
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

This series contains two formal photographs of Viette Brown, probably after her graduation from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1871, and about thirty photographs taken during her years in China. There are no photographs taken during the Boxer Uprising in 1900, but several small, undated photographs of scenes from Kalgan, China might have been taken before 1900. The rest of the photographs are from 1902-1907. Particularly of note are photographs from Kalgan after the Sprague's return in 1902 of Chinese women in a classroom, several of the missionaries in front of the recently rebuilt missionary that stands on the ruins of the old one, a Chinese woman with bound feet standing with her family, a family moving, a blind beggar woman and a Russian caravan. Most of the photographs correspond with a descriptive letter written to Anna C. Edwards from Tabol, Mongolia in 1906. This group shows the missionaries traveling in carts and on horseback, Mongolians, landscapes and animals. Prints and photocopies have been made of the photographs from this trip because the originals are in poor condition.

Contents List
Correspondence,
1900-1919
1 folder

Correspondence 1900-1919


Box 1: folder 1
11Correspondence 1900-1919
Writings,
1905-1908
1 folder

Writings 1905-1908


Box 1: folder 2
Biographical Information,
ca. 1893-1923
1 folder

Biographical Information 1893-1924


Box 1: folder 3
Photographs,
ca. 1871, ca. 1893-1907
1 folder



Box : folder 1
Photographs ca. 1871,
ca. 1893-1907

Box 1: folder 4
14Photographs ca. 1871, ca. 1893-1907

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.

Subjects
  • Sprague, Viette Brown, 1846-1923.
  • China - History - Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901 - Personal narratives.
  • China - Social conditions - 1644-1912.
  • Footbinding.
  • Missionaries - China.
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary - Students.
  • Voyages and travels.
  • Women - China - Social conditions.
  • Women missionaries - China.
  • Zhangjiakou (China)

Contributors
  • Edwards, Anna C. (Anna Cheney), 1835-1930.

Genre terms
  • Letters
  • Photographs


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