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Ethel Smith Newman papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00678

Scope and Contents

The Ethel Smith Newman papers consist of original correspondence from Ethel Smith Newman to her family in the United States between 1915 and 1925 as well as a published volume of the transcribed letters. Photographs are attached to some letters. The correspondence recounts day-to-day events of missionary life, detailing travels, work, civil unrest, the missionary household, and culture clash in an era of world war and growing anti-imperialism. Mary Shaw Newman, Ethel's daughter-in-law, transcribed and edited the letters, which were published in the volume Dear Folks at Home (2005). The book's preface contains an overview of Ethel Smith Newman's missionary career.

Dates of Materials

  • 1915-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1915-25


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the unpublished works in this collection created by Ethel Smith Newman. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Ethel Marion Smith was born to Jeanette (Waitt) and Robert Bradford Smith in Malden, Massachusetts on February 15, 1888. She earned a degree from Salem Normal School in 1908 and taught at high schools in Augusta, Maine and Everett and Barre, Massachusetts. In 1915 she accepted a teaching position with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, fulfilling her ambition to become a missionary. Initially stationed in the Ungkung mission in the Kwangtung (Guangdong) province of southeast China, she met a missionary physician, Henry Newman. The two married in 1916. Robert staffed hospitals while Ethel taught at girls' schools. The Newmans had four children: Robert, Henry, James, and William. Ethel continued to teach as she raised the children. In 1918 and 1919, Henry, Sr. worked in Siberia to aid with a typhus outbreak while Ethel and the children spent time in the United States. The family returned to mission in 1920, taking posts in China's Jiangsu province. They resettled in the United States permanently in 1925. Ethel Smith Newman died in January 1956, Henry Newman, Sr., in December 1962.


0.667 linear feet (2 containers)


Missionary teacher. Papers consist of correspondence from Ethel Smith Newman while serving as a missionary in China to her family, 1915 to 1925, as well as a published volume of the transcribed letters. Photographs are attached to some letters.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time. Note that in most cases, container numbers start over at 1 with each new accession.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Ethel Smith Newman Papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by Mary Shaw Newman in 2011


Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Processing Information

Accessioned by Amanda Izzo, April 2011

Ethel Smith Newman papers
Finding Aid
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Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:21-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-05-01: Added accession #11S-20.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063