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Marjorie Morse Crunden Papers

Call Number: Ms Coll 53

Scope and Contents

The collection contains sparse correspondence from Marjorie Morse's parents to her; letters from Marjorie Crunden to her mother in 1940-1941; hundreds of letters written every few days from her fiancé and then husband, Allan B. Crunden, Jr., at periods when they were living apart between 1935 and 1940; letters by Marjorie Morse sent as part of a round robin to friends who graduated from Wellesley; and many letters from friends and family. Also in the collection are Marjorie Morse's five-year diary (1932-1936), memorabilia from Newton High School, Wellesley College, and Yale School of Nursing, and miscellanea. There is some material on Morse's training as a nurse, and considerable material, including texts of examinations, on Crunden's clinical training at Temple University School of Medicine. Above all, the letters are a record of an upper middle class courtship in the 1930s. The collection includes a few photos of Marjorie Morse and Allan Crunden and of their son, Robert Morse Crunden, as a baby.


  • 1924-1942


Language of Materials

Materials are in English, with a small amount of Chinese.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was part of a larger collection purchased in 2015 jointly with the Divinity School Library. The medical missionary papers of Marjorie Morse Crunden's parents are in the Divinity School Library.


Organized into two series: 1. Correspondence. 2. Diary, memorabilia, and miscellany.

Related Materials

Morse family papers: William Reginald and Anne Crosse Kinney Morse, 1909-1941, Special Collections, Divinity School Library, Yale University.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Marjorie Morse Crunden, the daughter of a Baptist medical missionary in China, was educated in the United States, including at Yale School of Nursing. Correspondence includes letters from her parents; from her fiancé, Allan B. Crunden, a Yale medical student who transferred to Temple University School of Medicine; and from other friends and family. The collection also includes a five-year diary.

Biographical / Historical

Marjorie Morse was born in China in 1913 to Dr. William Reginald Morse and Anne (Anna) Crosse Kinney Morse of Canada who were Baptist medical missionaries in China from 1909 to 1937. Dr. Morse grew up in a large family in Lawrencetown, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. Marjorie, an only child, came with her parents to the United States in 1924 and remained there for her education after her parents returned to China. She lived with relatives and friends as she attended Newton High School in Newton, Massachusetts (graduated 1930), and Wellesley College (1930-1934), where she majored in sociology. In 1934, she began a three-year program for an R.N. and masters degree in nursing at the Yale School of Nursing. In New Haven in 1934, she met Allan B. Crunden, Jr. of Montclair, New Jersey, a graduate of Georgetown University, and a member of the Yale School of Medicine class of 1937. By the end of the year, she had agreed to marry him after completing her training. Crunden decided at this time that he did not like the "Yale System" with its lack of examinations, and thought that hospital training would be better in a larger city. He returned to Montclair, where he lived with his recently widowed father, and took laboratory and social science courses at Columbia University in the spring of 1936. In the fall of 1936, he resumed his medical education, taking his clinical years at Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Marjorie Morse continued her nursing education, much of it in hospital wards, in New Haven, West Haven, and on rotations to Rhode Island until her graduation in 1937. Much had to be decided on where and when they could be married and who would marry them. She was a Baptist and he a devout Catholic, she was not an American citizen, and she hoped her paents could attend. In the end, they married in July 1937 in London in a Church of England ceremony. Her parents were able to meet them in London on their way home from China to retirement in Lawrencetown. The Crundens lived in Philadelphia in the school year 1937-1938 where she served as a nurse-administrator at Temple and he completed his medical degree. The following two years, while Allan Crunden was serving hospital residency appointments in Jersey City and New York, Marjorie Crunden obtained an M.A. in education from Columbia University Teacher's College. She served briefly as an assistant in nursing education at Columbia. In 1940 they spent a year in Chicago with Allan Crunden's father. Allan Crunden was called into medical service in the Air Force in World War II. After the war, they lived in Montclair and other locations in New Jersey. He practiced as an obstetrician, while she was active in numerous civic and charitable organizations including the Montclair Board of Education, the Essex County Board of Health, the Montclair Public Health Nursing Service, and the Community Child Study Group of Montclair, which she organized. She was an expert tennis player and a local champion. The Crundens had two children, Robert Morse Crunden, later a prominent professor of American Studies at University of Texas, Austin, and Joan Crunden Lewis.

Marjorie Morse Crunden Papers
Toby A. Appel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Medical Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Repository

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