Letter from Alfred E. Stearns, Home Camp, Pittsburg, New Hampshire, to Sister Mary Antony, St. Mary's School, Peekskill, New York, September 7, 1928


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns, Home Camp, Pittsburg, New Hampshire, to Sister Mary Antony, St. Mary's School, Peekskill, New York, September 7, 1928


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns, Home Camp, Pittsburg, New Hampshire, to Sister Mary Antony, St. Mary's School, Peekskill, New York, September 7, 1928


My dear Miss Antony,

I am wondering whether your conditions at the school would make it possible and wholly convenient for you to receive and care for my ward, Miss Helen Tsai, a week or two before your fall session actually begins. I should not think of raising the question even if I were not confronted with something of a problem in caring properly for the young lady during the difficult period between the closing time of her summer work and the opening of the academic year.

My own domestic situation is such that I cannot provide for Miss Tsai in my own home as I used to do in the cases of my Chinese wards in the past. It becomes necessary for me, therefore to find a place for her in Andover and at a time when we are just opening a new school year ourselves, when over six hundred boys are swarming over the place, and when my own hours are crowded to the limit. I have found this period in the past a very difficult one for my Chinese wards and have often been able to secure the cooperation of the schools with which they were registered in caring for them as suggested above. This may not be at all practicable with you and I do not for a moment wish to make any unreasonable request. If such an arrangement were possible, however, it would ease the situation greatly for me. Miss Tsai is due back in Andover this week and could leave for Saint Mary's at almost any day agreeable to you. I myself do not expect to return until the 14th. of the month, but my secretary, Miss Mabel Jones, is thoroughly familiar with the situation and would be ready and glad to make the necessary arrangements for Miss Tsai's trip on receiving official approval from you. I should appreciate it very much, therefore, if you would be willing to send a brief note to Miss Jones advising her whether or not my suggestion can be carried out and it if can on what date you would be ready to receive Miss Tsai.

There is one other matter too which I should like to bring to your attention and on which I shall be ready to act entirely on your advice. As a Chinese girl Miss Tsai, like one other Chinese student of her sex committed to my charge, has been allowed to wear at schools attended in America thus far, her own native costumes. I am not prepared at all to argue in favor of this arrangement but I happen to know that Miss Tsai has in her possession at present a very extensive Chinese wardrobe which if not used would have to be packed away for an indefinite period, a responsibility which I naturally am not eager to assume. Miss Tsai’s attitude towards dress is somewhat unusual and very different from that of the other Chinese girl for whom I have acted as American guardian during the last few years. She has in her possession several very beautiful and expensive fur coats given her by her parents. I had had these stored for her with a furrier in Boston and when it came time for her to have them for use the latter part of last fall I asked whether she would care for all or only one or two. She replied that she did not wish any of them. At the time I could get from her no satisfactory explanation of her position; but I learned later from Mrs. Russell, her principal, that she felt that it would not be fair to the other girls in her school for her to have such expensive coats while all or nearly all of her companions had to be content with cheaper articles of wear. She actually purchased and wore during that entire winter a fourteen dollar coat while the fur coats remained in storage. I mention this only to emphasize what I consider a very unusual attitude for an oriental and to indicate that I do not believe that Miss Tsai would take any undue advantage of the privilege if she were permitted to make use of her native wardrobe at Saint Mary's. Very possibly she herself would prefer to adopt the regular American uniform in use at the school. I am simply raising the question, therefore, and shall be ready and glad to abide by whatever decision commends itself as wisest for Miss Tsai and the school as well.

I am sending a copy of this letter to my secretary, Miss Jones, in Andover, and shall appreciate it very much if you will kindly send your reply direct to her.

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


September 7, 1928


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