Wilfred Thomason Grenfell papers
Scope and Contents
The Wilfred T. Grenfell Papers contain primarily the personal and professional papers of Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador. From 1892 on, Grenfell devoted his life to his Labrador work, and both his professional and personal papers reflect his dedication to this work. Both deal with economic and social problems in Labrador and with the remedies Grenfell sought to administer through the work of his Grenfell Associations. In addition, both are infused with Grenfell's strong religious beliefs, which demanded action to better man's condition.
The papers are divided into fifteen series and five additions, organized as follows: I. CORRESPONDENCE. II. DIARIES. III. SHIPS' LOGS. IV. NOTEBOOKS. V. WRITINGS. VI. PUBLIC SPEAKING. VII. LEGAL AND FINANCIAL PAPERS. VIII. ANNE (MACCLANAHAN) GRENFELL. IX. ROYAL NATIONAL MISSION TO DEEP SEA FISHERMEN. X. GRENFELL ASSOCIATIONS. XI. THIRD PARTY. XII. FAMILY PAPERS. XIII. MEMORABILIA. XIV. PHOTOGRAPHS. XV. OVERSIZE.
At the beginning of the folder list for each series is a description which gives more information about the contents and arrangements of that series.
The papers are especially useful for studying aspects of Newfoundland and Labrador history, economy and sociology between 1892 and 1940. Letters to his family provide detailed narratives of his life and work in Labrador, as well as frequent expressions of his religious and political views. In general, the papers stress W.T. Grenfell's role as a missionary rather than his role as a doctor. The administrative and financial aspects of the Grenfell Association permeate the entire collection, while the number of medical papers is surprisingly small. Almost half the collection dates between 1930 and 1940.
There is some material, mostly correspondence, dating from Grenfell's childhood and education. However, his volunteer service as a major with the Harvard Surgical Unit in France during World War I is the only other relatively well documented period of his life. See outgoing correspondence 1941-15 (Series I), and his diary (Series II), writings (Series V) and memorabilia (Series XIII) for material regarding his World War I experiences.
At the beginning of his career in Newfoundland, Grenfell worked for the R.N.M.D.S.F. (Royal National Mission To Deep Sea Fishermen), a British charitable organization devoted to the welfare of British sailors of the North Sea and Grand Banks fleets, and served as a justice of the peace. Many of his administrative papers (Series I, outgoing), and a smaller amount of material from other R.N.M.D.S.F. officials (Series X) are preserved here, as well as some legal papers (Series VII). All of these provide a picture of the organization, spiced with the personality conflicts endemic to any organization, and of the poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, and other economic and social problems of Newfoundland and Labrador which the R.N.M.D.S.F. was attempting to rectify.
Papers relating to the Grenfell Association are also an important source of information on Newfoundland and Labrador. Grenfell founded this organization in 1912 to help him raise funds for his Labrador work, administer those funds and the newly founded facilities, and attract volunteers ("Wops" or "With-out-pay") to the area as teachers, doctors, and agricultural advisors. In the process of administering the Grenfell Association, W.T. Grenfell came in contact with important government officials of Newfoundland and Canada, and with many major philanthropists. As a result there is a fair amount of correspondence (Series I) from figures such as William Lyon MacKenzie King and the governors of Newfoundland and a lesser amount concerning various philanthropical activities from Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, Albert Schweitzer and others.
Aside from purely administrative and philanthropical matters, W.T. Grenfell involved himself in numerous projects connected in one way or another with the welfare of Labrador. Among these was the establishment of a reindeer herd for transportation and nutrition purposes, and the use of cellulose acetate in tuberculosis sanataria. (See series I, V, XI, XIV)
Grenfell adamantly believed in the positive part religion should play in the eradication of suffering from the modern world. His writings and speeches (Series V, VI) promote temperance societies in industrial countries and encourage support for basic medical, educational, and economic aid to the poorer nations. He often expressed the view that the poor could help themselves if they were given employment rather than charity. Through the Grenfell Association he promoted the establishment of cottage industries as well as larger projects such as sawmills in Newfoundland and Labrador.
A particular strength of the Grenfell Papers is the large photograph collection. Almost 10,500 photographs taken by W.T. Grenfell, his family and colleagues provide a visual record of Newfoundland and Labrador between 1890 and 1940, and of Eskimo and Indian inhabitants and European settlers. Interesting from a biographical standpoint is a long series of photographs stretching from W.T. Grenfell's grandparents to his grandchildren which closely detail his own life from 1873 to 1940 and that of his wife and children.
Throughout the papers W.T. Grenfell and his family are referred to by their initials, a practice followed by them in their correspondence and in annotations on photographs. The abbreviations used are:
W.T.G. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell or Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, Jr.
A.E.G. Anne E.G (MacClanahan) Grenfell
A.B. the same
K.P.G. Kinloch Pascoe Grenfell
R.L.G. Rosamond Loveday (Grenfell) Shaw
N.K.G. Nora K. Grenfell, wife of W.T. Grenfell, Jr.
A.S.G. Algernon Sidney Grenfell
J.G.G. Jane Georgiana (Hutchinson) Grenfell
A.G.G. Algernon G. Grenfell
The vast bulk of the papers were given to the Yale University Library by W. T. Grenfell's three children, W.T. Grenfell, Jr., Kinloch Pascoe Grenfell, and Rosamond (Grenfell) Shaw over the period 1943-1980.
Other related collections in Manuscripts and Archives are The New England Grenfell Association Papers (Mss. #1200) and the Elizabeth Paige Harris Papers (Mss. #771). Elizabeth (Paige) Harris was a volunteer worker for the Grenfell Association in White Bay, Newfoundland, for several years, and thereafter worked occasionally on fund raising and other matters in the United States. See also the papers of the Yale Grenfell Association in Yale Archives (YRG 40-A-16).
In Series I, VIII, and IX an * before the name indicates that a folder contains 10 or more items for that individual.
Existence and Location of Copies
Scrapbooks, diaries, ships' logs, and notebooks are available on microfilm (7,112 frames on 7 reels, 35mm.) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM80.
Conditions Governing Use
Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Diaries, Series II; Ship's Logs, Series III; Notebooks, Series IV, and Scrapbooks in Series XIII have been microfilmed, patrons must use HM 80, see inventory for details.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Wilfred T. Grenfell, Jr., Kinloch Pascoe Grenfell, and Rosamond Grenfell Shaw, 1943-1980; Wilfred T. Grenfell, Jr., 1988 and 1990; Janet G. Kahler, 1987; David S. Ashdown, 1990; and Harry G. Toland, 1991; Graduate Theological Union, 1996; and Ann T. Babine, 1996.
The papers are divided into fifteen series and five additions, organized as follows: I. CORRESPONDENCE. II. DIARIES. III. SHIPS' LOGS. IV. NOTEBOOKS. V. WRITINGS. VI. PUBLIC SPEAKING. VII. LEGAL AND FINANCIAL PAPERS. VIII. ANNE (MACCLANAHAN) GRENFELL. IX. ROYAL NATIONAL MISSION TO DEEP SEA FISHERMEN. X. GRENFELL ASSOCIATIONS. XI. THIRD PARTY. XII. FAMILY PAPERS. XIII. MEMORABILIA. XIV. PHOTOGRAPHS. XV. OVERSIZE
32.25 Linear Feet (76 boxes, 1 folio)
Language of Materials
The papers consist of correspondence, diaries, ships' logs, notebooks, writings, speeches, and legal and financial papers documenting Wilfred T. Grenfell's medical missionary work in Labrador, particularly for the years 1930-1940. Also included are scattered papers of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen and the Grenfell Associations, containing correspondence, minutes, financial records and reports (1893-1949). The small amount of papers of Ann MacClanahan Grenfell, his wife, consist largely of correspondence related to the Grenfell Association and two travel diaries (1924-1926). Grenfell's correspondence, notebooks and diaries are a valuable source for Labrador and Newfoundland history, as well as economic and social conditions between 1892, when he committed himself to missionary work in Labrador, and his death in 1940. There are also family papers relating to both the Grenfell and MacClanahan families. Providing an overall view of Grenfell's life are twenty-one scrapbooks (1893-1939) and a collection of nearly 10,500 photographs of life in Newfoundland and Labrador (1890-1940), of various missions and views of the Grenfell's travels to other parts of the world (1891-1932).
Biographical / Historical
Wilfred Grenfell was a medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador from 1892-1940. He was an author and a member of Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Grenfell established the Labrador Medical Mission and the International Grenfell Association.
- Alderdice, Frederick C., 1872-1936
- Allardyce, William Lamond, 1861-1930
- Anderson, David Murray, 1874-1936
- Ashdown, Cecil
- Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, Baron, 1857-1941
- Birdeye, Clarence, 1886-1956
- Bols, Louis Jean, 1867-1930
- Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925
- Byrd, Richard Evelyn, 1888-1957
- Danforth, William Henry, 1870-
- Davidson, Walter Edward, 1859-1923
- Forsyth, Chester Hume, 1881-
- Grenfell, Anne, 1885-1938
- Grenfell, Wilfred Thomason, Sir, 1865-1940
- Halsey, Jesse, 1882-
- Halsey, Lionel, 1872-1949
- Hare, H. Mather
- Harris, C. Alexander, Sir (Charles Alexander), 1855-1947
- International Grenfell Association
- King, William Lyon Mackenzie, 1874-1950
- Labrador (N.L.) -- Economic conditions
- Labrador (N.L.) -- Social conditions
- Lothian, Philip Henry Kerr, Marquis of, 1882-1940
- MacClanahan family
- MacGregor, William, 1846-1919
- Mayo, William James, 1861-1939
- Medical care -- Canada
- Missionaries -- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Missionaries -- Newfoundland and Labrador -- Labrador
- Missionaries' spouses
- Missionaries, Medical
- Morris, Edward Patrick, 1859-1935
- Mountevans, Edward Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans, Baron, 1880-1957
- Murray, Herbert Harley, 1829-1904
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- O'Brien, John Terence Nicolls, 1830-1903
- Patenaude, Esioff-Léon, 1875-1963
- Patey, Reuben
- Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920
- Rockefeller, John D., Jr. (John Davison), 1874-1960
- Roosevelt, Edith Kermit Carow, 1861-1948
- Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
- Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen
- Ryerson, Knowles Augustus, 1892-1990
- Schweitzer, Albert, 1875-1965
- Sheard, Abraham
- Ships' papers
- Stirling, William R.
- Strathcona and Mount Royal, Donald Alexander Smith, Baron, 1820-1914
- Treves, Frederick, Sir, 1st baron., 1853-1923
- Wallace, R. H. (Raymond H.)
- Walwyn, Humphrey Thomas, 1879-1957
- Wheelock, Louis
- Whiteway, William Vallance, Sir, 1828-1908
- Guide to the Wilfred Thomason Grenfell Papers
- Under Revision
- compiled by by Tony Myrans and Janet Elaine Gertz
- January 1981
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
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