Ellison and Lottie Hildreth Papers
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.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
- I. Correspondence, 1902-1967
- II. Notes and Writings, 1914-1966
- III. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1886-1977
6 Linear Feet (15 boxes)
Language of Materials
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.)
- Lottie, B.A., Mt. Holyoke College. Following graduation, she taught school in New York and New Jersey.
- Ellison, B.A., Amherst College.
- Ellison attended Colgate Rochester Seminary.
- Ellison graduated from Union Theological Seminary, N.Y.
- 1909 December
- Ellison became a Student Volunteer at the SVM convention in Rochester, N.Y.
- Ellison taught at Cedarcroft School, Pennsylvania.
- Ellison served as Baptist home missionary in Covelo, California.
- 1913 June
- Lottie and Ellison married. Children: John Lane Hildreth and Alice Lane Hildreth.
- 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.
- Ellison served with YMCA in Siberia.
- Ellison attended seminary. Family unable to return to China because of poor health.
- Ellison pastor of Federated Church in Cabot, Vermont.
- Ellison pastor of Federated Church in South Royalton, Vermont.
- Ellison pastor of Federated Church of Christ, Brooklyn, Connecticut.
- 1962 December 17
- Ellison died.
- 1977 November 24
- Lottie died.
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)”.
- Guide to the Ellison and Lottie Hildreth Papers
- Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository
409 Prospect Street
New Haven CT 06511 US