Five College Archives and Manuscript
Mount Holyoke College seal
Ward Papers, 1905-1972.
3 boxes (1 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0729 (LD 7096.6 1908 Ward)

Ward, Laura D. (Laura Dwight), 1887-1972; teacher and missionary. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1908. Papers contain diaries, correspondence, biographical information and photographs documenting primarily her work as a missionary teacher in Foochow (Fuzhou Shi), China, 1914-1950. Material includes her diary of her Mount Holyoke College years; correspondence describing her 1927 capture by Chinese pirates; details of Chinese life, customs and Communist rule; and information on the Ward family. One item is in Chinese. The collection also includes correspondence with her brother William Earl Dodge Ward, a biographical sketch, and photographs of Chinese groups.

Terms of Access and Use:


Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

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.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

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:

  • Diaries
  • Correspondence
  • Biographical Information
  • Photographs

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


Preferred Citation

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.

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.

  • Ward, Laura D. (Laura Dwight), 1887-1972.
  • China - History - Republic, 1912-1949 - Sources.
  • Fuzhou Shi (Fujian Sheng, China) - Description and travel.
  • Missionaries - China.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Student life - 1905-1908.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Students.
  • Pirates - China.
  • Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945 - China - Fuzhou Shi (Fujian Sheng) - Personal narratives.
  • Student activities - Massachusetts - South Hadley.
  • Women missionaries - China - Correspondence.

  • Ngai, Peter.
  • Ward, William Earl Dodge, 1884-1977.

Genre terms
  • Diaries.
  • Letters.
  • Photographs.

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