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Ellison and Lottie Hildreth Papers

 Collection
Call Number: RG 15

Scope and Contents

The Hildreth Papers provide valuable documentation of the work of the American Baptist South China mission, complementing the Foster Family Papers and Campbell Family Papers also located at YDSL. Ellison and Lottie Hildreth were well-educated and intelligent New Englanders whose experiences are representative of many American missionaries to China in the early part of this century.

Substantive correspondence with family members and fellow missionaries documents their striving to reach the mission field, their initial impressions of China, family life in China (including the death in infancy of their first two children), daily educational and evangelistic work. and the political unrest rampant in South China during their tenure. Extensive correspondence from Ellison to Lottie during the six years prior to their marriage deals primarily with events of daily life but provides glimpses of the difficulties encountered in coordinating family expectations with early plans to go to China. In letters from China to their parents, Ellison and Lottie give detailed descriptions of events and surroundings. In April of 1916. for example, Ellison wrote to his mother about the revolution taking place around them: "Swatow has gracefully gone to the rebels. The chief magistrate fled on board a Chinese warship and left the harbor. We hear that Chaoyang, Kityang, Unkung, Thenghai and Kaying have all sided with the rebels. That means that the power and the soldiers are all in the hands of the revolutionary party, and we can expect as good protection as we have had or better." (ESH to mother 1916 Apr 1 (Box 3, Folder 34))

During this period of unrest, Ellison and some fellow missionaries were involved in negotiations between warring factions. (A rubbing of the granite stone memorializing this involvement is in OVERSIZE material. Photograph and translation available in Box 11, Folder 148.)The intense anti-Christian movement in the mid 1920s is well documented. A letter from Ellison to William Ashmore and others dated 1925 Dec 28, for example, provides detailed description of anti-Christian demonstrations occurring at Christmas in Chaochaofu.

Substantive documentation of the situation in South China is also available following the Hildreths' final return to the U.S. in 1927 through letters of fellow missionaries, particularly those of Ben and Alice Baker, the Hildreth's American Baptist colleagues at Chaochaofu.

The Notes and Writings of Series II deal primarily with the China experiences of the Hildreths. Included are many notes for talks about China given after their return to the United States. Of particular interest among the writings about China collected by the Hildreths is a typescript document by Emanuel H. Giedt entitled "Early Mission History of the Swatow Region Brought Down to the Present for the American Baptist Mission" (1946).

The Personal Items and Memorabilia of Series III shed light on the context of the Hildreths' China years. Family background is provided through newspaper clippings and an autobiographical sketch of Ellison's early years. A notebook-diary from the China years details daily events. A few written musings of Lottie provide insight into her personal feelings and beliefs. Photographs of the Hildreths' surroundings and colleagues in China are well identified.

Dates

  • 1886-1977

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Arrangement

  1. I. Correspondence, 1902-1967
  2. II. Notes and Writings, 1914-1966
  3. III. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1886-1977

Extent

6 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/divinity.015

Overview

The papers provide valuable documentation of the work of the American Baptist South China Mission, complementing the Foster Family papers and Campbell Family papers also located at Yale Divinity School Library. The Hildreths' experiences are representative of many American missionaries to China in the early part of this century. Substantive correspondence with family members and fellow missionaries documents their striving to reach the mission field, their initial impressions of China, family life in China, daily educational and evangelistic work, and the political unrest rampant in South China during their tenure. The intense anti-Christian movement in the mid 1920s is well documented. Ellison Hildreth served as a Baptist home missionary from 1910 until 1913. From 1913-1927, the Hildreths were American Baptist missionaries in South China. During a furlough from 1918-1919, Ellison Hildreth served with the YMCA in Siberia. From 1928-1949, he served as pastor of Federated Churches in Vermont and Connecticut.

Biographical / Historical

1882 June 18
Lottie Rowe Lane born in Walpole, Massachusetts, daughter of Everett Lane and Carrie Wetherby Lane.
1884 July 17
Ellison Story Hildreth born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, son of Judge John Hildreth and Kate Barker Story Hildreth. (Ellison was also known as "Bob", and in later life as E. Story.)
1905
Lottie, B.A., Mt. Holyoke College. Following graduation, she taught school in New York and New Jersey.
1906
Ellison, B.A., Amherst College.
1906-1907
Ellison attended Colgate Rochester Seminary.
1909
Ellison graduated from Union Theological Seminary, N.Y.
1909 December
Ellison became a Student Volunteer at the SVM convention in Rochester, N.Y.
1909-1910
Ellison taught at Cedarcroft School, Pennsylvania.
1910-1913
Ellison served as Baptist home missionary in Covelo, California.
1913 June
Lottie and Ellison married. Children: John Lane Hildreth and Alice Lane Hildreth.
1913-1927
American Baptist missionaries in South China. After two years of language study in Kakchieh, they were assigned to Chaochaofu. On return from furlough in 1920, Ellison was in charge of the country work around Chaochaofu and in 1923 a few churches north of Shantou (Swatow) were added to his field.
1918-1919
Ellison served with YMCA in Siberia.
1927
Ellison attended seminary. Family unable to return to China because of poor health.
1928-1936
Ellison pastor of Federated Church in Cabot, Vermont.
1936-1940
Ellison pastor of Federated Church in South Royalston, Vermont.
1940-1949
Ellison pastor of Federated Church of Christ, Brooklyn, Connecticut.
1962 December 17
Ellison died.
1977 November 24
Lottie died.

Processing Information

Place names were modernized in the description, with the name originally used in the collection material or in an older version of the finding aid in parenthesis: e.g. “Beijing (Peking)” or “Benin (Dahomey)”.
Title
Guide to the Ellison and Lottie Hildreth Papers
Author
Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
Date
1986
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Yale University Divinity School Library Repository

Contact:
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