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Laura Dwight Ward was born on April 12, 1887 in Newton Center, Massachusetts. Her father was Langdon Storer Ward, a Congregational missionary to Turkey, and her mother was Laura Bliss Ward, daughter of Edwin E. Bliss, also a missionary to Turkey. She was the youngest of seven children. She graduated from Amherst, Massachusetts, High School in 1904 and attended Mount Holyoke College from 1904-1908, where she received a B.A. with a major in mathematics. She also studied at Boston University Extension (1912), Hyannis Summer Normal School (1914), Columbia University Teacher's College (1921-1922), Yale Divinity School (1937-1938) and the Yale Institute of Far Eastern Languages (1945-1946). She taught school in Springfield, Massachusetts (1908-1910) and Medford, Massachusetts (1910-1914), and taught English to foreigners at a night school (October 1910-February 1911, also in Medford, Massachusetts). She spent most of remainder of her life as a missionary teacher in Foochow, China (1914-1950), where she was principal of a girls' school and a teacher of English and music. She also coordinated women's work in churches, focusing on training Chinese women. While in China she experienced revolution and civil war (1927-1932), the Japanese occupation (1941-1943), postwar political unrest, renewed civil war and the rise in Communist rule (1946-1950). She retired to the United States in 1951 and served briefly as a missionary in the Allston-Brighton area of Boston. She wrote one book entitled "Here and There Stories: How Precious Pearl Became a Teacher" (Boston, 1922). She died in Acton, Massachusetts on April 23, 1972 at the age of eighty-five.
The Laura D. Ward papers consist of diaries, correspondence, a biographical sketch and notes, press releases, a copy of her will and photographs. Most of the collection consists of diaries dating from 1914-1949 when Ward was a missionary in Foochow, China. The diaries contain brief, almost daily, entries about her travels, the activities of Ward family members (many of them involved in missionary work), Congregational missions in China, women's education, Chinese customs, and ongoing political events including civil war, Japanese occupation in China and the rise of Communism. A diary for 1905-1909 includes entries about her daily activities as a student at Mount Holyoke College. The collection also includes notes describing Ward's 1927 capture by Chinese pirates, her 1950 one-page summary of her life's work and resignation written in Chinese (with a translation), a 1967 letter from Peter Ngai describing the Chinese church in 1958, and forty-four letters or postcards exchanged between Laura and her brother William Earl Dodge Ward from 1965-1972 that chiefly concern family matters. In addition, the collection contains a biographical sketch of Ward, a copy of her will, and photographs (six of them of groups of Chinese people taken between 1913-1916).
This collection is organized into four series:
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Laura D. Ward Papers, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA.
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