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[January 21, 2000]
Hawkes, Sarah Belknap (Belle) Sherwood; 1854-1919
Papers; 1881-1899; n.d.
1 Box (DC)
There are no restrictions on this collection.
Sarah Belknap "Belle" Sherwood was born December 13, 1854. From information available in the collection itself, it appears that the Sherwood family was native to Ballston Spa, New York; that Belle's father died prior to 1883; that her mother's name was Mary Frances; and that her siblings were William (d.1889), Minnie, Sidney (b.1860, became a lawyer), and Margaret (b.1864). In 1883, Belle sailed from New York City for Persia, arriving in the city of Hamadan, a nine-day trip inland from the coast, in November of that year. The Presbyterian Church, USA, had opened work in Hamadan in 1882, with Miss A. Montgomery in charge, thus the Hamadan girls' school was only a year old when Belle joined Miss Montgomery there.
Belle was not in Hamadan very many days before she met missionary James W. Hawkes (b. August 13, 1853). They were married in Teheran, October, 1884. The long journey to Teheran was necessitated by the fact that legality of the marriage in America required the presence of the United States ambassador to Persia at the ceremony. Belle lost a baby in early 1886 in the wake of a serious illness, and that summer traveled to London for an operation. In 1889, James and Belle Hawkes continued to serve as missionaries in Persia.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of several letters written by Belle to her family, 1883-1899; and two reports prepared for the mission board which she served, 1884 and 1899. The correspondence discusses her initial reactions to Persian life upon her arrival in 1883, language instruction, her courtship and marriage, individual instances of witnessing (especially to the Musselmen, i.e. Muslims), progress in the school, her convalescence in 1886, servants and housekeeping, and glimpses of Persian life. Fellow missionaries mentioned include A. Montgomery, Charlotte Montgomery, and Dr. and Mrs. E. W. Alexander. One nearly constant theme is the management of her finances by brother Sidney in New York, specifically how she wishes her tithe on the interest income to be spent. She deals at length in several letters with the possibility of turning a substantial amount of her capital (four to five times her annual salary) over to the girls' school work at Hamadan, seeking to convince her brother and the mission board that a woman is capable of making financial decisions.
Letters of December 27, 1884, and April 6, 1886, deal with the struggle between Victorian propriety and expressing affection. Written both to Sidney, they display a woman wrestling with regret over "this reserve in the New England Character" which she feels has damaged family relationships, perhaps irretrievable. The first of these letters is dated shortly after her marriage.
The 1884 report discusses the development of the girls' school students at Hamadan. The 1899 report recounts her travels in Persia visiting Muslim women and observing their spiritual and social condition.
The materials in this collection were acquired by the Center from a book dealer in April, 1978.
May 19, 1978
Robert D. Shuster
Revised, April 21, 1982
Galen R. Wilson
Retyped, April 18, 1989
Type of material: Photographs
The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by Folder Titles (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.
HAWKES, BELLE SHERWOOD
1881 portrait photo of Belle S. Hawkes taken by W. W. Whiddit of Newburgh, New York (1).
October 1895 portrait photo of Belle Sherwood Hawkes taken in Teheran, Iran, for Mrs. M. F. Sherwood (1).
Photos of Belle S. Hawkes in a garden in Hamadan, Iran (2).
Photo of a woman and a dog (1).
Photo of Belle Sherwood and James W. Hawkes (1).
Group photo of Mary Sherwood, J. W. Hawkes, Fannie Beattie, Annie? Beattie, Mary? Beattie (1).
Photo of Mary Francis Sherwood and Belle Sherwood Hawkes (1).
|1||27||"Report of Girls' School...;" July 1884|
|1||28||Report; July 1899|