Grace McClurg Carson papers

 Collection – Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0243

Collection Overview


The Grace McClurg Carson papers document the history of the McClurg family from 1848, and, specifically, the life of a Methodist Missionary who served in China from 1910 to 1926. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, and albums, newsclippings, financial records, religious tracts, Chinese artifacts, and scrapbooks.


  • Creation: 1848-1972, undated


2.30 Cubic Feet (5 legal boxes)

4 Items (4 oversize rice paper prints)

3 Photographic Prints (3 oversize photographic prints)


Scope and Contents

The papers of Grace McClurg Carson document the experiences of an unmarried woman missionary in China from 1912 to 1926. As such, they shed light on the role of women in a working situation as educators. In addition, the researcher can gain insight into the concerns of women who do not see themselves as mere appendages of men but as individuals in their own right.

The correspondence in the collection (1848-1970) is extensive. It includes two Civil War letters written between a brother and sister--McClurg ancestors. The bulk consists of letters to and from China, supplemented by later correspondence to family and friends after Grace McClurg married F. Stanley Carson (ca. 1957). In addition, the folder entitled "Keepers of the Gate" (1947-1965) consists of religious or inspirational letters to close friends and relatives.

The diaries kept by Grace McClurg in college reveal the extent of her religious commitments. They also can be utilized for research into the educational development of women in America at the turn of the century. Unfortunately, her diary entries written while in China are brief and sporadic.

Grace McClurg also related her experiences in the form of stories and essays which she submitted to various publications, including Reader's Digest. Included are pieces on a summer spent in the Western United States ("I Was a Harvest Cook") as well as several untitled drafts on people and places in china. In a similar vein, the collection includes essays and inspirational quotations, possibly compiled by F. Stanley Carson, which might have been used to teach religious classes.

The scrapbooks and scrapbook clippings in the collection are valuable for information on the Chicago Training School and the Hinghwa Mission. They include newspaper articles, menus, programs, Chinese artwork, and photographs. Printed material consists of pamphlets, biographical information, and general religious literature. This is highlighted by Chinese printed material that includes a foreign language Bible and hymnal, paper dolls, a rice culture booklet, and instructions on writing Chinese characters for missionaries in training.

Photographs in the collection (ca. 1884-1970) represent an extensive documentation of the McClurg family and pre-revolutionary China. In addition, one can use this material to illustrate the social history of women in early colleges and as missionaries. A list appears at the end of the box inventory which attempts to identify each photograph by subject, individual, or location. Dates have been included when possible.

Biographical / Historical

Grace McClurg was born on April 26, 1884, in Lima, Ohio. She was the daughter of Joseph and Eliza (Brown) McClurg. She graduated from high school in 1902 and attended the local normal school for one year. She then taught for three years; one year in a country school and two years in the fourth grade at the Lincoln Building in Lima. From 1906-1908, she attended the Chicago Training School for City, Home and Foreign Missions, and then continued her studies at Northwestern University, graduating in 1912.

Upon graduation, she was assigned as a foreign missionary by the Methodist Church to Hinghwa, China. The Hinghwa Mission Province in Fukien, China, was started in 1890 by Reverend Dr. Harold Brewster and his wife under the direction of the Methodist Board of Missions. It stayed in operation until all such facilities were closed by the Chinese Communists after 1948. Grace served at Hinghwa as teacher and supervisor of the girls' boarding school from 1912 to 1926, returning to the United States for one two-year furlough from 1918-1920. Upon her return in 1926, she began teaching social studies at the Lima High School, continuing until her retirement in 1948.

While serving in China, she became friends with Reverend F. Stanley Carson and his wife, Grace. The Carsons were assigned to the same province and served there from 1905 to 1941. They kept in touch with Ms. McClurg over the years after returning to the United States. Carson's first wife died in 1956 after a lengthy illness. On a trip from California to Kentucky, he stopped in Lima to visit Ms. McClurg. Eventually, the two former missionaries were married and resided in Lima until their deaths.

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers using this collection assume full responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright, and are responsible for securing permissions necessary for publication or reproduction.

Language of Materials



Separated Materials

The following materials were separated from the collection:

Pamphlets transferred to the Center for Archival Collections' Ohio General Pamphlets (pOG) collection:
  1. Lima High School Yearbook, 1913, "The Annual Mirror"
  2. "Women's Institute Fashion Service," Fall and Winter 1920-1921, Spring and Summer 1921. Dressmaking and designing tips for the season's fashions.
  3. Borrowed Time Club Yearbooks, 1934, 1938
  4. Lima Teachers Association Yearbook, 1947/1948
Maps transferred to the BGSU Map Library:
  1. World map showing Methodists missions and world religions, 1924
  2. Map of China, 1938, in English and Chinese

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were donated to the Center for Archival Collections in May 1982 through the cooperation of Dorothy M. Clark, Executrix of the Grace McClurg Carson Estate, and Jill Gates Smith, Field Specialist for the Women's Studies Archives Project.

Processing Information

The finding aid was prepared by Sandra Davies, graduate assistant in history, in August 1982.

Guide to the Grace McClurg Carson papers
Sandra Davies, Nick Pavlik
August 1982, February 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
  • Box: 1 (Mixed Materials)
  • Box: 2 (Mixed Materials)
  • Box: 3 (Mixed Materials)
  • Box: 4 (Mixed Materials)
  • Box: 5 (Graphic Materials)
  • Item: Oversize Print 1 (Mixed Materials)
  • Item: Oversize Print 2 (Mixed Materials)
  • Item: Oversize Print 3 (Mixed Materials)
  • Item: Oversize Print 4 (Mixed Materials)
  • Item: Oversize Photo 1 (Graphic Materials)
  • Item: Oversize Photo 2 (Graphic Materials)
  • Item: Oversize Photo 3 (Graphic Materials)