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MC 314

Tuttle family. Papers, 1895-1975: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women


Radcliffe College
April 1981

© 1981 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 314
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Title: Papers, 1895 (1900-1953) 1975
Quantity: 13 file boxes, 2 half file boxes, 16 folders of photographs
Abstract: Diaries, correspondence, writings, and photographs of the Tuttle family, Baptist missionaries, from Massachusetts.

Processing Information:

Processed: April 1981
By: Madeleine Bagwell Perez

Acquisition Information:

Accession no.: 77-M146
The papers of the Tuttle family were given to the Schlesinger Library in September 1977 by Lucile Burdette Tuttle and were processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-0051-79-1260).

Historical Note

Adoniram Judson Tuttle, Baptist missionary, was born on May 18, 1875, in Springfield, Ohio, the son of Laura Byrd (Luse) and Harvey Harrison Tuttle. He grew up in Granville, Ohio. After graduating from Denison University in 1896, he attended the Divinity School at the University of Chicago (1896-1897). During 1898 he served as supply pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Springfield and Calvery Baptist Church in Piqua, Ohio., and then attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania (1898-1899). After graduation and ordination, AJT served as pastor of the Baptist Church at Washington Court House,Ohio. In March 1901 he was appointed missionary of the American Baptist Missionary Union of Boston, Massachusetts (now the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of New York) without his being called to Boston for an interview. On July 29, 1901, he married Frances Kemble Davidson, and on September 16 they sailed for India.
Frances Kemble Davidson was born on July 15, 1876, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the daughter of Frances Victoria (Burdette) and Stephen Davidson. She attended Parkersburg city schools and spent a year at Shepardson Conservatory of Music, an affliate of Denison University, where she met AJT. After learning that he was going into the ministry, she studied for two years at the Baptist Missionary Training School in Chicago, graduating as valedictorian on June 26, 1900.
Reverend and Mrs. Tuttle arrived in India in November 1901 and were first stationed at Golaghat, Assam (1901-1902); Gauhati, also in Assam, was their primary residence for most of their forty years in India. The Tuttles's service was evangelistic and educational in nature, but a great deal of AJT's time was spent traveling or on his administrative duties as field secretary and treasurer of the Assam Baptist Conference.
According to FDT, her work in Assam "was to a large extent that of husband's assistant, for a busy missionary needs a wife's help in so very many ways." She also raised two children, conducted a kindergarten, taught teacher's training classes, and held prayer and sewing meetings for Indian women.
The Tuttles's first child, Lucile BurdetteTuttle, was born in Gauhati on May 18, 1903. Their son, Stephen Davidson Tuttle, was born on May 4, 1907, in Parkersburg, while the family was home on furlough. Since AJT agreed with FDT that children should be raised by their parents LBT and SDT, unlike many other missionary children, remained at home through their early years. In the fall of 1921 they were sent to the Home for Missionary Children, Granville, Stephen entering Granville High School and Lucile entering Denison University.
After college and four years of teaching in Sugarcreek, Ohio, LBT returned to India to serve as her father's assistant (1929-1936); during 1934-1936 she also served as warden of the American Baptist Hostel for college girls attending Cotten College, Gauhati. SDT continued his studies in music, graduating from Denison University and Harvard University. After ten years of teaching at the University of Virginia (1941-1951) he was appointed Associate Professor of Music at Harvard University in 1952. On April 9, 1954, he was stricken with a heart attack and died at his home in Cambridge.
LBT returned to the United States in 1938 to teach at Abbot Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. AJT and FDT retired in May 1940 settling in Massachusetts near their children. AJT died on August 6, 1943, after a year of illness (myasthenia gravis); FDT died suddenly on October 4, 1946. LBT continued to teach: Abbot Academy (1938-1943), Wellesley College (1943-1946), and the Emma Willard School (1947-1968). After compulsory retirement she became Director of the Upper School at the Community School in Tehran, Iran (1968-1970). In 1977 she moved to Crosslands, Kennet Square, Pennsylvania. More detailed curricula vitae of the Tuttles are found in #1 and 33.


The papers of the Tuttle family consist of diaries, correspondence, writings, and photographs. They are principally the personal papers of Frances Kemble (Davidson), Adoniram Judson Tuttle, and their children, Lucile Burdette and Stephen Davidson.
The collection centers around the family's life in India, and is arranged in four series:

Series I, Diaries and biographical material, consists of five sub-series:

The diaries and journals (1v-37v) include information about Judson and Frances' wedding and first trip to Assam; the birth of their daughter Lucile; child care and education; friends and coworkers; India and its people; trips to Europe and the United States; missionary work; and AJT's illness and death. Biographical information includes vitae, passports, school records, obituaries, memorials, and clippings.
Series II, Correspondence, consists mainly of letters between husband and wife, parents and children, sister and brother. There are three sub-series:
AJT and FDT wrote to their families in the United States regularly; in addition, some of Frances' private letters to her mother and sisters describe more intimate details of her life. When AJT travelled, he and FDT wrote each other daily, and they sent weekly, sometimes daily, letters to the children after they had gone away to school. In most cases a carbon copy of general family letters was sent to each child or set of relatives, with more personal notes pencilled at the end. While away at school Lucile and Stephen wrote regularly to their parents and each other; Lucile's "regularly" was weekly, Stephen's monthly.
The letters of AJT and FDT (#44-138) are arranged in one chronological sequence, with letters to each other, their children, and other family members interfiled. Because of the frequent separation of AJT and FDT place names have been added to the folder descriptions. Letters to the Tuttles (#139-151) from their families, friends, and other missionaries are arranged separately at the end of sub-series II-A and include some business correspondence and letters of condolence at AJT's death.
The letters of LBT and SDT to their parents, each other, and relatives are arranged separately, except that their joint letters to their parents (1936-1939) are interfiled with LBT's correspondence. LBT's letters (#152-194) describe her school days, teaching experiences, and work in India. There are a few letters to LBT, including sympathy cards at her mother's death (#195-205). SDT's letters (#206-230) concern his school days, travel, music, and teaching positions. There are a few letters from relatives, others concerning research, and one folder about his estate.
Series III, Writings, contains sermons, articles, reports, talks, notebooks, and poetry. The writings are arranged in four sub-series:
Most of AJT's writings (#234v-246v) deal with missionary work and include a sermon on The Scriptural Basis of Mission; an historical sketch of the Gauhati Field; as well as notes for other sermons and addresses. The Assam Conference Reports, 1895-1938, include AJT's reports as secretary and treasurer of the Assam Baptist Conference.
FDT's writings (#248-255) pertain to articles and talks on missionary life and India; there are many notes. There is one folder of poetry, some by FDT, and a list of books read. LBT's writings (#258-266) are primarily notes for talks, along with some unpublished articles and stories. There are also reports on AJT's work at Mongoldai and her own work for the girls' hostel at Cotten College.
SDT's writings are meager, consisting of one musical score and some high school compositions.
Series IV, Photographs, consists mainly of snapshots of Assam, the Gauhati mission, and the Tuttle family as missionaries there; they are arranged in four sub-groups: Tuttle family, mission buildings and missionaries, albums, and Indians and India.
The Tuttles sent many of these pictures to family in the United States, annotating them on the reverse; most are undated. Of the relatives appearing in the pictures only FDT's sisters are identified. The albums contain similar photographs, with some duplication; for the most part the photographs in them are neither identified nor dated.

Additional catalogue entries (a card for each of the following appears in the card catalogue):

American Baptist Missionary Union of Boston, Massachusetts
Assam, India--Social life and customs
Children--Care and hygiene
Davidson family
Family records
India--Social conditions
Missionaries--India--North India
Parent and child