Hyla S. Watters Papers
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Hyla Watters Papers consist of l.5 linear feet of correspondence, writings, memorabilia, printed material, photographs, and an oral history. The inclusive dates are 1892 to 1991, but the major portion of material dates from 1911 to 1961, which includes her Smith College and missionary years.
The CORRESPONDENCE series consists of three sections: Outgoing, Incoming, and Miscellaneous, and contains a combination of original letters and carbon copies. Watters was an excellent correspondent and wrote detailed letters describing her life and work. The first section, Outgoing, contains primarily her correspondence to her family from Smith College and her various post-graduate and missionary locations. The Smith letters contain lively accounts of college life, 1911-1915. There is a folder of letters, 1917-1924, written from several different places, mostly reporting on medical school and internships. The majority of letters in this section are those she wrote from China, 1924-1948, where she was stationed at Wuhu General Hospital in Anhwei Province as a staff surgeon. Her mother, Ada, spent several years with her in China, and there are also some letters in this group from her to the family at home and some from both of them. These letters describe in detail medical experiences, the political situation, Chinese culture, and daily life, including the Lindberghs' stop in the fall of 1931, the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, and the Communist takeover in the 1940s. There is also one letter from Watters while she was interned in Shanghai by the Japanese in August 1942. Following her service in China she was stationed in Liberia, and there is one folder of letters from Ganta, 1950-1956. The outgoing letters to friends are in two groups. The first were written to Helen Hale Plummer and Lyman and Sadie Hale, 1938-1986. The second group, 1917-1960, contains miscellaneous letters to friends, including general printed Christmas letters, personal letters, and descriptive acknowledgements of supplies donated.
The second section, Incoming, 1930-31, 1980-1985, contains letters from other missionaries describing their experiences and general personal letters as well as some from Chinese friends and associates in Wuhu when Watters was posted elsewhere.
The final section of Miscellaneous correspondence, 1930-1988, consists of letters neither to or from Hyla Watters. It contains general printed letters written by missionaries, correspondence between family members and between friends and family giving accounts of Watters' activities, plus several miscellaneous letters to Watters' biographer, Elsie Landstrom.
The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL includes diaries, an autobiography, oral history excerpts, articles, clippings, and genealogical material. There are two diaries, one with short entries from her Smith College years, 1911-1915, and a travel diary from her trip across Africa and the Holy Land in 1961. "Growing Up Days" is a short autobiographical piece written for her 1975 Smith College reunion and covers her life up until her graduation. The oral history transcript consists of excerpts from an interview by Elsie Landstrom in 1986. Also included are genealogical charts, correspondence, printed material and notes. There is one photograph, taken in 1950 when she received an honorary degree from Smith College.
The WRITINGS consist of stories about China that Watters wrote in the 1930s to raise money for Wuhu Hospital, plus poetry, sermons, hymns, and miscellaneous articles, 1967-1978.
The MEMORABILIA consists mainly of mementos and printed material from Smith College, China, and Liberia. In addition there is one folder of miscellaneous family items. The China material contains some printed reports to the missionary conference from Wuhu Hospital.