Five College Archives and Manuscript
Mount Holyoke College seal
Lee papers, ca. 1910-1990
1 box (5 linear inch.)
Collection number: MS 0614 (LD 7092.8 Lee)

Lee, Elizabeth Meredith, 1888-1990; teacher and missionary. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1910 and M.A., 1912. Mount Holyoke College faculty member, 1910-1912. Papers contain correspondence, writings, memorabilia, and photographs primarily consisting of letters sent to Carrie J. Carnahan describing her experience as a missionary in Japan including the earthquake of 1923. Also contains two books by Lee, "He wears orchids" and "As among the Methodists."

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Elizabeth Meredith Lee was born on October 7, 1888 in Brunswick, Maine. She received her B.A. in 1910, and her M.A. in 1912, both from Mount Holyoke College. While she worked towards her master's degree she was a tutor in the Latin Department. From 1912-1914 she taught at the Shipper School for Girls in Pennsylvania. In 1915 she became a missionary in Japan for the Methodist Church, spending eight months in Tokyo before going to Fukuoka to become the head of the Happy Hill School for Girls. She remained in that position until 1924 (although on furlough 1920-1922), then returned to the United States for health reasons. Lee continued to work for the Methodist Board of Foreign Missions with responsibility for work with girls and women in Africa, Europe, and particularly Latin America. She also worked for the Refugee Settlement Program of the Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief. After retiring from the Board in 1960, Lee traveled the world as a member of the United Nations Speakers' Bureau. She died on August 11, 1990 in Shelton, Connecticut at the age of one hundred and one.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Elizabeth Meredith Lee Papers consist of correspondence, writings, financial records, memorabilia, biographical information, and photographs dating from about 1910 to 1990. Most of the letters in the collection were written by Lee (who signed herself "Betty") and addressed to Carrie J. Carnahan, a member of the Christ Church of Pittsburgh and staff member of the Methodist Church, which Lee served as a missionary in Japan 1915-1924. These letters describe her activities in Japan, particularly her work as head of the Happy Hill School for Girls in Fukuoka. The letters describe the School's curriculum, buildings, and financial needs, and occasionally comment on Japanese customs and events, such as the 1923 Tokyo earthquake. Other material in the collection relating to Lee's experiences in Japan consists of financial statements for the School (1917-1919) and a variety of memorabilia, including maps and several unpublished accounts written by others concerning the 1923 earthquake. Her papers also include copies of her books "As among the Methodists" and "He wears orchids," a collection of poems written 1951-1976, sketches, clippings, and other biographical information about her (circa 1910-1990), as well as two photographs of her (1941 and 1972).

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

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Preferred Citation

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

Elizabeth M. Lee Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts

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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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.

  • Earthquakes - Japan - Tokyo.
  • Happy Hill School for Girls - History - Sources.
  • Japan - Description and travel.
  • Kanto Earthquake, Japan, 1923.
  • Methodist Church - Missions - Japan.
  • Missionaries - Japan - Correspondence.
  • Schools - Japan - History - Sources.
  • Teachers - Japan - Correspondence.
  • Women - Education - Japan - History - Sources.
  • Women missionaries - Japan - Correspondence.
  • Women teachers - Japan - Correspondence.

  • Carnahan, Carrie J.

Genre terms
  • Letters

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