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Call No.: MC 359
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Mary Paterson Van Norden, 1845-1939
Title: Papers of Mary Paterson Van Norden, 1866-1973
Quantity: .42 linear feet (1 file box)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Volumes of typed transcripts of letters of Mary Paterson Van Norden, wife of a physician and missionary in Iran for the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.
Mary (Paterson) Van Norden was born in New York City on February 13, 1845, the second daughter of George Wilson and Mary Maitland Paterson. Following the death of George Wilson Paterson in 1851, Van Norden returned with her children to her native Scotland, after four years moving to Canada and finally to Brooklyn, New York, where Van Norden completed school at the age of fifteen.In May 1866 Van Norden married Thomas Langdon Van Norden, a physician and missionary for the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. The couple immediately sailed for Persia, where they remained for the next seven years, residing for the most part in the city of Urmia, the present Rezaiyeh, in northwest Iran. Upon their return to the United States, they lived for a time in New Orleans before returning to Brooklyn, where the last three of their eight children were born. In 1883 Thomas Langdon Van Norden left for the Near East to continue his work. He died in 1895 without returning home. Mary Paterson Van Norden died on January 12, 1939, in Yonkers, New York.
The collection consists of four volumes and one folder. The first volume commemorates Mary Paterson Van Norden's seventieth birthday (1915). The remaining three volumes are typed transcripts of letters written by Van Norden from 1866 to 1873 to her mother, sister, and other relatives. They describe her travels, domestic events (including the deaths of her two sons), and life in Urmia. The folder includes notes by family members on people and places mentioned in Van Norden's letters.