The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
French, Mary E., 1848-
Mary E. French (born 1848)
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
This collection contains the
papers of Mary E. French of Dunstable, Massachusetts, who served as a missionary in
India on two occasions in the late nineteenth century.
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains the papers of Mary E. French of Dunstable, Massachusetts,
who served as a missionary in India on two occasions in the late nineteenth century.
Her letters, journal extracts, and manuscripts describe her experiences abroad while
living and working in rural India. Also present is a letter from Captain Isaiah
Bray, reporting on the voyage of the Morning Star to
Micronesia in 1878-1879.
Folder 1 contains writings of Mary E. French about her missionary work in India.
Included are letters (1875) from Midnapore in West Bengal, and extracts of her
journal (1885-1886) from Khamgaon in Maharashtra. The journal extracts are partly
handwritten, partly typed, and partly printed, as if they were being prepared for
lecture or publication.
Folder 2 contains letters from "Lizzie", Mary Elizabeth French, to her sisters
Susan and Sarah. The letters were written from 1874-1875 and 1883-1887 and span both
of Mary French's trips to India. They describe in great detail her adventures and
struggles while serving as a missionary there. Also in Folder 2 are single letters
to Mary's nieces Nellie (Peabody) Fuller, Clara Hall, and Emily Hall, as well as
fragments of other letters most likely addressed to her sisters. Folder 3 contains
one letter to Mary E. French from Shewanti Canaran, inviting Mary to stay with her
in Colabra and learn the language [Marathi].
Folder 4 contains the transcript of a long letter written in 1879 to Brother
Hall from Captain Isaiah Bray, commander of the third Morning
Star. Brother Hall is likely Samuel Hall, Mary E. French's
brother-in-law. In this letter, possibly the only one written on this voyage,
Captain Bray summarizes an eight-month voyage from Honolulu to the South Pacific,
during which the ship visited 26 different islands (some more than once). Much of
the letter deals with the role that religion played in the success of the
Folder 5 contains an 18-page typewritten manuscript describing life in Kamgaon,
India, and the surrounding area, especially the challenges of preaching the
Christian gospel message to non-believers. The manuscript is not signed but was
written by a female missionary, presumably Mary E. French. Folder 6 contains an
80-page handwritten report describing the customs of Indian Hindus in the area near
Calcutta. It was written by a female missionary, again most likely Mary E. French,
although it is unsigned. The author was a keen observer of daily life both within
the home and in the town. The report concludes by arguing that Indian women are
indebted to missionary ladies for their education and culture. Folder 7 contains
poetry and ephemera including postage stamps and a card in Braille.
Mary Elizabeth French was born on March 14, 1848, the
daughter of Ebenezer and Sarah (Richardson) French of Dunstable, Massachusetts. She
travelled to India as a missionary from 1874 to 1876 and again from 1883 to 1887.
While home in the United States she gave public lectures concerning the manners and
customs of the Indian people and the need for missionary labor among them. Her death
date is unknown. See Appendix I for relevant French family genealogy.
Captain Isaiah Bray was born on August 20, 1844 in
Yarmouth, Massachusetts, the son of Jeremiah and Jane Bray. An experienced navigator
and devout Christian, he took command in 1878 of the Morning
Star, the third ship of that name. The intention of the voyages of each
of the five ships named Morning Star was to bring
Christianity to the people of Micronesia. Captain Bray led several such expeditions
to Micronesia. He died on April 2, 1915 in Honolulu.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Bray, Isaiah, 1844-1915
French, Mary E., 1848-
Hall, Samuel, 1834-1912
Hall, Sarah French, 1836-1908
Peabody, Susan French, 1839-1908
Morning Star (Missionary vessel : 1871-1883)
Hinduism and culture
Midnapore (India : District)
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
Mary E. French (born 1848) Papers, MSS 484, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum,
Some of this material was donated to the library by Marion Wilkins on October 14,
Collection processed by Lee Jacoby, April 2015.
Family Gathering on the French Homestead in Dunstable, Mass.,
October 8, 1879. Printed for Private Distribution, 1879.