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Arthur Judson Brown Papers

Call Number: RG 2

Scope and Contents

Although the papers span the years 1884-1863, the bulk of the material concerns the years 1895-1929, the dates of Dr. Brown's career with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. It should be noted, however, that the material represents the personal papers of the clergyman, not any archival records of the Board. The papers of this mission executive document many developments in church and social history, including the ecumenical movement, of which he was a pioneer.

Correspondence, the first and largest series in the Papers, reflects the long life and career of Dr. Brown. Although there are some letters written by him, most of the material consists of correspondence he received. A wide variety of material is represented in the eight respective sections of this series:

  1. Correspondence: General
  2. Correspondence: Family
  3. Correspondence Re: Publications
  4. Correspondence Re: Missions
  5. Correspondence Re: Anniversaries
  6. Correspondence Re: Birthdays
  7. Correspondence Re: Retirement
  8. Correspondence Re: Illness and Sympathy

The most extensive section of this series, Correspondence: General, contains professional, organizational, and personal material dating from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s. The correspondence of many prominent religious, political, and social leaders is included in this section. Because of his role in the Ecumenical Movement, Dr. Brown communicated with Catholic, Jewish, and Orthodox leaders, in addition to such influential Protestant clergymen as Henry Sloane Coffin, Nathan Soderblom, and John R. Mott. Often termed a "missionary statesman" himself, Brown received letters from five American Presidents and various other government officials. Booker T. Washington, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and John Wanamaker were among his famous American correspondents. In addition, members of European and Asian royalty, including Chinese commoner-turned-emperor, Yuan Shih-ktai, were in communication with Dr. Brown.

Correspondence: Family, the brief second section of the series, contains letters written and received by four generations of Browns. A1though not extensive, the material spans over one hundred years. The earliest letter, written by Abraham Brown to Elizabeth Marsh Brown on September 5, 1864, expresses sympathy at the death of Edwin T. Brown in the Civil War. Arthur Judson Brown's message to his brother Elliott, dated "Feb. 4th, 1895" is also of interest for it notes the former's astonishment at being "unanimously elected corresponding secretary Board Foreign Missions" and asks the latter's advice in the matter. Most of the correspondence of Mrs. Jennie Brown concerns a luncheon for Swedish Crown Princess Louise, which Mrs. Brown hostessed on June 5, 1926.

Correspondence Re: Publications contains original letters and typed extracts regarding any work of Dr. Brown's which appeared in printed form. Letters of thanks and commendation comprise the bulk of this section, although business letters also appear. Supplemented by the "Book Review" and "Re: Publications" sections of the Printed Material series, this section forms a chronological guide to the clergyman's literary career.

The fourth section of the series, Correspondence Re: Missions. houses originals, copies, and extracts of Arthur Judson Brown's correspondence with foreign missionaries, Christian nationals, and specific missions. Most of the material deals with the Near and Far East, particularly China. Some foreign language material and translations are included.

Correspondence Re: Anniversaries is composed of congratulatory messages pertaining to three major occasions: Brown's twenty-fifth year as Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions (1920), fiftieth wedding anniversary (1933), and sixtieth wedding anniversary (1943). One letter, dated 1946, notes the fiftieth anniversary of Brown's service for the Board. The bulk of the material in this section regards Brown's professional anniversary. The most prominent well-wishers include clergymen Henry Sloane Coffin, John R. Mott, and publisher Fleming H. Revell.

Correspondence Re: Birthdays contains greetings sent to Dr. Brown from his seventieth celebration to his one hundred and sixth. The amount of correspondence for each occasion varies greatly: a single message for the eighty-sixth birthday, many for the centennial. A bound volume of letters presented to Dr. Brown from "The Church Peace Union" and the "World Alliance for International Friendship through Religion," is included.

Correspondence Re: Retirement is comprised of letters, copies, extracts, and a telegram regarding Dr. Brown's July 1929 retirement from the Board of Foreign Missions following thirty-four years of service. This section includes a bound volume of letters from members of the Chosen, Korea, Mission, entitled A Book of Remembrances.

Correspondence Re: Illness and Sympathy consists of greetings Dr. Brown received while hospitalized in 1922 and 1941; and expressions of condolence sent to the Brown family upon the deaths of Arthur Judson Brown (1963), Arthur Judson Brown, Jr. (1959), Elliott Wilbur Brown (1941), and Jennie Thomas Brown (1945). Dr. Brown received the condolences regarding the deaths of his son, brother, and wife; while correspondence regarding his own death is addressed principally to his daughter, Eleanor.

Diaries and Enclosures, the second series in the Arthur Judson Brown Papers, contains the clergyman's accounts of his 1901-1902 Asian tour, 1909 world tour, and the material found inside these volumes. Prompted by the Boxer Rebellion, Dr. and Mrs. Brown began a tour of Asia as representatives of the Board of Foreign Missions in February 1901. The clergyman recorded seventeen volumes entitled "Diary of Arthur J. Brown on Tour of Asia" during the fifteen month trip. His daily entries provide valuable accounts of the Near and Far East at the beginning of the twentieth century. The contents of each volume vary greatly, but generally include descriptions of professional conferences and meetings, visits to hospitals, schools, and churches, personal impressions, and travel adventures. Conflicts between Protestant and Roman Catholic missionary interests are mentioned frequently.

"Book VI" of the 1901-1902 Diary, written from Pao-ting-fu and Peking (Beijing) in the aftermath of the Boxers, is perhaps the most significant of the seventeen volumes. Dr. Brown's moving experiences at the Pao-ting-fu mission are recorded in the first pages of the volume. Reference to Yuan Shih-kai's troops, the Boxer ("Allied Villagers") takeover of a city thirty miles to the south, and the reconstruction of the missionary compound are also of note.

Topics included in Dr. Brown's Beijing accounts are the Boxer Rebellion, the subsequent indemnity question, and the suicides of Chinese women in connection with the march of foreign troops. A July 16, 1901 entry records Brown's interview with Sir Robert Hart, Inspector General of Imperial Maritime Customs. While in the capitol, he also met missionaries of different Protestant denominations and called on the Roman Catholic Bishop--indications of his ecumenical spirit.

The material enclosed in the seventeen volume diary supplements Dr. Brown's writings. Newspaper articles, receipts, notes, pamphlets, and a menu are among the items which relate directly to the entries. Four maps of Shandong (Shantung) Province, then governed by Yuan Shih-kai, illustrate a route suggested by F.H. Chalfant, the locations of Protestant missions in the province, "Mail Routes of Am. Pres. Miss. Service", and "Part of Shantung Showing F.H., Chalfant's Itineries l897."

During this five month world trip begun in July 1909, the clergyman recorded five volumes entitled "Journal of Arthur J. Brown World Tour 1909". The clergyman's writings and activities during the second tour are similar to those of his 1901-1902 trip, generally recording professional conferences and meetings, visits to missions and institutions, personal reflections, and travel descriptions. More specific passages are also significant: the question of Christian church cooperation in the first two volumes, and reference to the Russo-Japanese War in "Books III and IV." The fourth volume also contains the account of the clergyman's Peking interview with a son of Yuah Shih-kai, who stated that the governor had given him a copy of Brown's New Forces in Old China with advice to read it. The final book deals principally with the Brown's experiences traveling by rail from Harbin, China, to Berlin, Germany. A few enclosures, such as train schedules and calling cards, were contained in the 1909 diary.

Writings, the third series, primarily consists of works by the clergyman in either typed or hand-written form. Although much of the material later appeared in print, the only two printed items in this series are attached to specific writings.

Several typed, hand-written, and mimeographed addresses given by Dr. Brown and others appear in this series. Addresses welcoming him to China and Syria during his 1901-1902 Asian tour, are included. Translations are attached to some of the addresses. Two folders of "Prayers", most written by Dr. Brown, cover the years 1947-1961. Most of the "Poems" were written as birthday tributes to him. His brief essay, "The Death of John R. Mott", was made part of the permanent records of The Church Peace Union. Two complete manuscripts of Brown's autobiographical Memoirs of a Centenarian, are also included in this series.

Personal Items and Memorabilia, the fourth series, contains a wide variety of material. Genealogical information and family souvenirs, such as a recent copy of the 1791 will of Brown's great-grandfather, are included. The autograph of Horatius Bonor, nineteenth century Scottish hymnist and divine, is included with an explanatory note from Thomas Royall dated 1894. An assortment of invitations, to and from American Presidents, European and Asian royalty, dignitaries and professionals, represents highlights of Dr. Brown's career. A small collection of English and Chinese language calling cards, including that of Yuan Shihkai, appears in this series, as well as letters of introduction to foreign governments from President William McKinley, United States Consul John Fowler, and others.

A section of photographs, mainly composed of snapshots taken during Brown's two trips around the world, is located at the end of Personal Items and Memorabilia. The Chinese scenes of Pao-ting-fu, Peking, and Yuan Shih-kai's troopers, are of special interest. The only photo album in the collection, entitled "Our visit to Budapest July, 1920", was given to Dr. Brown as a souvenir of Hungary. A tintype of Edwin T. Brown in Civil War uniform, and photographs of Brown taken from 1880-1962 are notable. A tape-recording of the clergyman's 105th birthday speech is located at the end of the series.

Printed Material, the final series, houses a wide variety of material. It is divided into six sections:

  1. Magazine and Newspaper Clippings
  2. Minutes and Reports
  3. Pamphlets
  4. Re: Publications
  5. Church Bulletins and Newsletters
  6. Bound Material

The first section, Magazine and Newspaper Clippings, is also the largest. It contains material dating from 1884 to 1963, either written by or regarding Dr. Brown. This section includes all magazine and newspaper clippings except those regarding Dr. Brown's publications, which are arranged as Printed Material: Re: Publications. A wealth of topics concerning both social and church history, such as the Boxer Rebellion, the 1910 Edinburgh Conference, and the League of Nations, is represented. It is also an excellent source for tracing the development of the clergyman's career, point of view, and various activities.

Clippings from the Great Round World and The Assembly Herald frequently appear. Between 1920-1921, Dr. Brown wrote a column entitled "One Book A Week" for The Christian Work. During 1930 he served as Acting Editor of The Missionary Review of the World. Articles from North American, Asian, and European newspapers are located in this section. Many of Dr. Brown's early sermons can be found with Magazine and Newspaper Clippings, as they were reprinted in various publications. Two folders containing book reviews written by Dr. Brown between 1885-1887 for The Interior, then a leading Presbyterian weekly, appear at the end of the section.

The Minutes and Reports section contains committee reports, annual reports, typed extracts, and other organizational material dating from 1890-1962. Material related to the establishment of an Oregon State Board of Charities and Corrections, the 1900 Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions, and "Edinburgh 1910", reflects some of the clergyman's interests.

The Pamphlets section covers a wide range of religious, social, and political topics. The contents are divided into three parts: "Pamphlets: Including Notices" contains pamphlets, leaflets, one page printed announcements, and other material written by or regarding Dr. Brown. Printed form letters, also called "General Letters," are included in this section. Form letters are readily recognizable by their official nature and broad salutations (e.g., from "The Board of Foreign Missions" to "Pastors, Church Officers, and all Friends of Foreign Missions.") "General Letters" addressing specific mission groups are located with Correspondence: Missions.

"Pamphlets: Addresses" contains addresses made by Dr. Brown, usually before professional groups, which were printed in pamphlet form. "The Evangelization of the Great West", dated 1894, is the oldest work; while the one hundredth birthday address is the most recent.

"Pamphlets: Sermons" includes works preached by Dr. Brown in 1891, and 1911, in addition to French, German, and Swedish translations of the sermon "Implications of the Publican's Prayer," delivered at the Stockholm Cathedral during the 1925 Universal Christian Conference on Life and Work.

The section on Publications contains a host of material related to fourteen of Dr. Brown's works. Book reviews from magazines and newspapers, book jackets, and typed extracts are included.

The Church Bulletins and Newsletters section spans the years 1903-1965. Some of the material is from churches in Oak Park, Illinois, and Portland, Oregon, where Dr. Brown held pastorates early in his career.

Bound Material houses the clergyman's personal Bible, with markings and enclosures, "Philip's Authentic Map of Asia" and a "Map of the East."


  • 1864-1969


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research. In three series-- Correspondence, Writings, and Printed Material-- electrostatic copies have been inserted where necessary. The original copies of all this material are located at the end of the Arthur Judson Brown Papers labelled "Restricted Circulation". Researchers should use the copies in lieu of the originals.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1864-1967
  2. II. Diaries and Enclosures, 1901-1902, 1909
  3. III. Writings, 1890-1962
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1894-1962
  5. V. Printed Material, 1884-1963
  6. VI. Restricted Circulation and Oversize


9.5 Linear Feet (26 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The bulk of the papers relate to Brown's activities in the Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, and with the ecumenical and world missionary movements. Of special interest are Brown's travel diaries of tours of China and the Far East, 1901-1902 and 1909. Arthur Judson Brown was a Presbyterian clergyman, author and pioneer in the ecumenical and world missionary movements of the 20th century. The positions he held included administrative secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (1895-1929), charter trustee of the Church Peace Union (1914), organizer of several World War I relief committees, editor of Missionary Review of the World (1930), vice-president of the International World Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches (1933-1937).

Biographical / Historical

Born at Holliston, Massachusetts
Father, Edwin T. Brown, dies in the Civil War; the family moves to Wisconsin
A.B., Wabash College
Graduates from Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio; ordination; marries Jennie Elizabeth Thomas
Minister at the First Presbyterian Church, Ripon, Wisconsin
Minister at the First Presbyterian Church, Oak Park, Illinois
Literary Editor of The Interior, Chicago
A.M., Wabash College
Moderator of the Synod of Chicago
Minister at the First Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon
Chairman of the Portland City Board of Charities; drafts law organizing Oregon's first State Board of Charities and Corrections
Awarded D.D., Lake Forest College
Moderator of the Synod of Oregon
Serves as Administrative Secretary, later General Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.
First attends the Foreign Mission Conference of North America; later becomes first Chairman of the Committee of Reference and Counsel (16 years), and Chairman of the Emergency Committee on Support of Missionary Societies
Ecumenical Missionary Conference, New York--member Executive Committee; Chairman--Hospitality Committee 1901-1902: world trip to Asian missions
World trip
World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland--member Executive Committee; Chairman, American Section; member of Continuation Committee for 16 years.
Commission of the Federal Council of Churches on Relief for Protestant Churches in France and Belgium-Chairman; resumes following World War I
Awarded D.D., Yale University
British and Foreign Bible Society--Honorary Foreign Member
Council on Religion and International Affairs (formerly The Church Peace Union)--Charter Trustee; member Executive and Finance Committees; treasurer since 1936
World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship Through Religion-member Executive Committee
Peking Union Medical College, China--trustee; member Executive Committee; post 1937--member Advisory Committee
Near East Relief--trustee
Moral Aims of World War I--member Executive Committee
National Committee on Relief of Children in Belgium--member Organizing and Executive Committees
Hall of Fame for Great Americans--elector
Awarded LL.D., James Millikin University, Carroll College, Maryville College, Missouri Valley College
Foreign Missions Conference of North America--Chairman
Awarded LL.D., Wabash College
Hungary-American Society--Chairman of Executive Committee, Vice President; 1920- Chairman of Deputation to Hungary
Committee on Relief for Protestant Churches in Devastated Regions in Europe in World War I
American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities--Chairman; 1937-Honorary Chairman
Life and Work Movement--member of delegation sent by Federal Council of Churches of U.S. for its delegation 1920: Greek Decoration--Officer of the Royal Order of George I
International Missionary Council--organizer
Siamese Decoration--Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant
National Committee on American-Japanese Relations--member
Conference of Reformed Churches holding the Presbyterian System, Cardiff, Wales--Committee member and speaker
Universal Christian Conference on Life and Work, Stockholm, Sweden-Joint President; Chairman-American Section; helps establish "Life and Work" headquarters at Geneva in 1928; Chairman-Continuation Committee until 1936
World Conference on Faith and Order, Lausanne, Switzerland--delegate
Editor the Missionary Review of the World for one year
Save The Children Federation--first President; 1931-1936-Honorary President; member Executive Committee
International World Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches--Vice-President: President-American Section
Eugene Field Society (National Literary Association)--honorary membership
Hall of Fame for Great Americans--citation
Dies at New York City, age 106
Undated activities
Britain, Canada and Australia (now under World Council of Churches)--member
Church Committee for Armenia--member
Christ for the World Movement--member
Committee on Interchange of Speakers between the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia (now under World Council of Churches)--member
Committee of Reception to Viscount Allenby--member
Associated Boards for Christian Colleges in China--member
Boys' Town--honorary member
Cheeloo University, China--President American Board of Governors
Chosen Christian College, Korea--trustee
College, Iran--trustee
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief--member
American-Palestine Committee--member
Asiatic Institute--member Executive Committee
Japanese-Christian Society, New York--member Advisory Committee
World Alliance Committee on Relations Between the United States and Canada-member
Golden Rule Foundation--member Advisory Committee
Phi Gamma Delta--member
Emergency Committee for Relief of Refugees in Greece--Chairman
National Council of World Fellowship of Faiths--member
Conference on Religion and Support of United Nations--member Executive Committee
Committee on Church and Welfare Recovery--member
National Civic Federation of Immigration Department--member Executive Committee
League to Enforce Peace--member Executive Committee; Speakers' Commission
League of Nations Non-Partisan Association--Honorary Vice-President

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)”.

Guide to the Arthur Judson Brown Papers
Compiled by Lynn Buckley Aber
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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