Letter from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to Miss Ellen F. Pendleton, April 3, 1926


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Letter from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to Miss Ellen F. Pendleton, April 3, 1926


Letter from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to Miss Ellen F. Pendleton, April 3, 1926


Typed letter sent from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to Miss Ellen F. Pendleton about Mary Sun's education and current situation. Explains Mary was placed in schools based on the expectation she would return to China after high school and not attend college. States her father decided to send her to college, which requires change in schools and additional prep work. States Mary would be unable to take the full list of examinations, but may be able to suceed in subjects outside of languages and mathematics. Asks if there anything Hoyle can do to help. Provides information on Mr. Sun, the father.


April 3, 1926
Miss Elle F. Pendleton
President, Wellesley College
Wellesley, Mass.

My dear Miss Pendleton:

I am wondering whether there is any way that you can help me out in handling a very perplexing problem that is mine in connection with the American guardianship which I hold of a Chinese girl, Mary Sun of Tientsin, China, whose father has recently decided that she should go to college and has expressed a preference for Wellesley. Here is the situation in a nutshell.

Mary Sun and her brothers were placed under my care five years ago. Mary, herself, was only fifteen years old. Her first work was done in the local grammar school. A term at Northfield proved unsuccessful and she war entered as a day scholar at Abbot Academy, continuing to live in my own home. Last year she was placed as a boarder in Abbot and was allowed to take the general course, in which she would naturally have secured her diploma this June. This arrangement was made because of the understanding on my part that Mary was to complete her American education this year and return to China this coming summer.

Several rumors having reached me during the early part of the current school year that Mary’s father had changed his mind and might wish her to go to college led me to write Mr. Sun very fully and frankly describing conditions, the character of Mary’s courses of study, etc.. and explaining further that college preparation would mean a complete change of courses and probably school, and asking for explicit instructions as to what was desired. The receipt of this letter prompted a cable message from Mr. Sun reading, only, “prepare Mary for college.” There seemed to be nothing else to do but sever the Abbot Academy connection and put the girl for the balance of the year in a small semi-tutoring school where intensive college preparatory work could be done. This was the course adopted.

The girl is now twenty or twenty-one years old, I believe, according to our way of figuring ages, though a year or two older by the Chinese method. Under the circumstances she ought to get to college as soon as possible. Her present teacher tells me that, after a month’s work with her, she believes that, if she can gain admission to college this fall, she could be able to hold her own comfortably, at least if she doesn’t concentrate on languages of mathematics. On the other hand, it would, of course, be wholly impossible to get her ready to take the full list of college entrances examinations by next September, for the course at Abbot did not lead to college admission.

Is there anything that you do for a girl in this situation that is not exactly according to Hoyle or advertised in the catalogue? I do not want to ask undue favors, but I do feel that this is very usual case and since a foreigner is involved, one that deserves as much consideration as can possible be given it. Mr. Sun, the father, is a very unusual man. He was formerly a banker in Tientsin but has retired and for the last few years had devoted most of his time to philanthropic work. He is not a professing Christian but is eager, as his letters to me have revealed, that his children should be. In some ways he is a better Christian than many who profess to be. He was head of the Red Cross for China during the War and since then, has served chairman of many flood and famine relief committees. Men who have come here from time to time while these children have been under my care and who have known Mr. Sun in China speak in most vigorous terms of his character and influence. The fact that he has sent four of his children to this country in the hope of giving them something bigger and better than China offered is a fair indication, at least, of his idealism.

I am sorry to have pestered you with so much detail, but I must admit that I am tremendously puzzled with the problem which I have on my hands and eager to handle it in the most satisfactory way. At this stage I need help, and hence I turn to you. Please be generous as you can.

With kind personal regards, believe me


Dr. Alfred E. Stearns


April 3, 1926


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