Residents of Worcester, Mass., Madeline and Winthrop Goddard Hall were part of an extended community of young friends and family associated with the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions, including Charlotte and Edwin St. John Ward, Margaret Hall, and Ruth Ward Beach. From 1907 to 1914, Edwin Ward was sent as a missionary to the Levant, working as a physician and teacher at Aintab College in present-day Turkey and Syrian Protestant College in Beirut. Margaret Hall and Ruth Beach were stationed in China, teaching in Tientsin, at the Ponasang Women's College in Fuzhou, and at the Bridgeman School in Shanghai.
The Hall Papers include 67 lengthy letters written by missionaries stationed in the Ottoman Empire and China, with the majority from Charlotte and Edwin Ward. Intimate and often intense, the correspondence provides insight into the social and family life of missionaries and gives a strong sense of their extended community.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Madeline and Winthrop Goddard Hall
Shortly after their marriage in Longmeadow, Mass., on May 2, 1907, Charlotte (nee Allen) and Edwin St. John Ward set off together as missionaries with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. For seven years on the cusp of World War I, the couple lived in the Ottoman Empire, raising a family in a succession of cities in present day Turkey and Lebanon.
Given the scope of the Wards' activities, the term "missionaries" might be somewhat misleading. A medical doctor, Edwin (b. 1880) worked in ABCFM hospitals and universities, and he eventually left the Board to focus on medicine. While in the Levant, Edwin lectured at Aintab College (Turkey) and Syrian Protestant College (Beirut) -- the latter of which became the American University in 1920. While at Aintab, he and his wife struck up a friendship with the college president, Fred D. Shepard, who gained a measure of fame when his biography, Shepard of Aintab, appeared in 1920. The book, by Alice Shepard Riggs, was intended to give Sunday School students a positive role model, but since its republication in 2001, it has become a resource for those interested in exploring missionary life in the Middle East during the 20th century.
In Beirut, the Wards became acquainted with Howard Bliss, the second president of Syrian Protestant College, and the son of the college's founder, Daniel Bliss. Established in 1866, Syrian Protestant College became an important intellectual hub and center of newspapers and scientific publication, and it played a prominent role in bringing Beirut into the 19th century Arab Renaissance, al-Nahda. Most of the scholarship on Protestant missionaries in the Middle East centers on the time of Daniel Bliss, with comparatively little addressing the 20th century. The efforts of the 19th century missionaries to bridge cultural gaps between the West and the East, however, clearly affected the second generation of missionaries, of which Charlotte and Edwin were a part. At the conclusion of World War I, when the Ottoman Empire disintegrated and much of the Arab world looked to America for support in rejecting European colonialist expansion, it was Howard Bliss who suggested to Woodrow Wilson to convene a commission to plumb Arab opinion regarding the building of states in the Middle East. The King-Crane Commission determined that there should be a single Arab state comprised of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan, however its conclusions were completely ignored in Europe.
The Wards appear to have left the Ottoman Empire at the start of the First World War. In her final letters, Charlotte discusses the sight of British warships off the coast of Beirut becoming a common sight, and she mentions that she and Edwin were supposed to take a furlough.
The Madeline and Winthrop Goddard Hall collection contains 67 letters addressed to the Halls by Protestant missionaries in the Levant and China during the years immediately prior to the First World War. The majority of these letters (39) were written by Charlotte Ward to Madeline (Taber) Hall, with the remainder from Charlotte's husband, Edwin St. John Ward, to Madeline's husband, Winthrop Goddard Hall (1881-1977). The letters are arranged chronologically.
During their years in missionary work, the Wards kept a regular correspondence with their friends at home. Even before arriving in Turkey in late 1907, they wrote 10 letters while traveling on their honeymoon through England (from Leeds, Stratford, and Chester) and Paris, and while cruising off the Greek coast aboard the SS Bagdad. The first stops on their mission were at Aintab and Harpoot, both in central Turkey (now known as Gaziantep and Elazig, respectively), from which Charlotte and Edwin discuss the missionary community, Edwin's work at Aintab College, and their acquaintance with the president of the College, Fred Shepard.
Late in 1908, the Wards moved to Diarbekir (also Diyarbakir), Turkey, another ABCFM missionary and educational center. During the three or four years there (there is a 16 month gap between the last letter from Diarbekir and first from Beirut), the Wards wrote 21 letters, and had two children. Much of their efforts during this period revolved around Edwin's oversight of the construction of a hospital, however the letters touch on a range of subjects, including helping Edwin deliver a baby, and abortion among Turkish women.
From July 1912 to July 1914, the Wards worked in Beirut and the near-by city of Aleih. Edwin worked long hours at a hospital -- Charlotte discusses how he is gone for days at a time -- but during this time, the couple found enough time together to have a third child. In her letters, Charlotte mentions attending the funeral of Samuel Jessup, one of the last survivors of the first generation of American missionaries in the Levant; taking in a baseball game that Americans in Beirut played on July 4; and British warships off the coast of Beirut.
The remainder of the collection consists of 13 letters from Margaret (probably Margaret Hall), Gertrude (Blanchard?), and Ruth P. (Ward) Beach, missionaries in China. Written from Ponsang Women's College, Foochow [Fouzhou], Shanghai, and Tientsin [Tianjin], China, 1911-1914, the letters are primarily personal in nature, discussing family and friends within the missionary community, but provide some perspective on life in China after the Revolution of 1911.
Letter undated, but postmarked June 24, 1908
Gift of Margot Culley.
Processed by Adam Dupont, April 2009.
Cite as: Madeline and Winthrop Goddard Hall Papers (MS 603). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.