Henry C. Brownell Papers
Scope and Content Note
Henry C. Brownell was a history professor at Lingnan University (formerly Canton Christian College) in China from 1908-1950. These papers document his life and work. They include correspondence, reports, newsletters, photographs, lecture notes, writings, official legal documents, diaries, calendars and date books, address books, and newspaper clippings. Henry's 1938-1940 diary from the period in which the Japanese occupied China may be of particular interest. Mrs. Jane Brownell, also a teacher at Lingnan University, is represented in the collection.
The Clippings series is arranged in two ways: chronologically and topically. Clippings cover personal and international matters. Notices of Henry's education, work, and travel are filed alongside clippings about international relations relating to political changes in China, Western Europe, and the United States.
The Correspondence series includes incoming and outgoing personal letters between Henry, Jane, extended family, friends, and Lingnan teachers and students. An explanatory note from Lincoln Brownell, son of Henry C. Brownell, identifies members of the extended Brownell family and some friends; the note is filed with correspondence from 1924. Letters to and from Henry's cousin Katherine Brownell Collier are especially prevalent. There are also official communications to and from Lingnan University trustees based in New York City.
The Lingnan University series presents a more general overview of life in China while associated with the university. Material includes publicity from the university and from different events held there.
The Personal series demonstrates the variety of interests held by the Brownells. Of note are household books such as address books and diaries, as well as writings on Religious topics, and membership groups. Notes commonly consist of To Do lists, quotations, and prayers.
Photographs are mainly grouped together in their own series and categorized based on their geography (China or U.S.)
The Printed Matter series contains a variety of material. Most appears to have been reading material gathered in China including secular and international news sources. A small amount stems from membership groups of which the Brownells were a part.
The Teaching series contains Henry's lecture notes which are written in a personal form of shorthand and appear to be primarily notes used at Lingnan University. Other schools, when known, are noted.
The series Writings/Talks contains Henry's (and to a lesser extent, Jane's) notes for speaking engagements outside of formal teaching environments. Local membership groups, often church-based, frequently invited Henry or Jane to talk about what life was like for them in China. Material in this series was created by Henry unless otherwise stated.
- 1892 - 1972
- Majority of material found within 1908 - 1950
- Brownell, Henry C. (Creator, Person)
The material is in English with some additional writing in Chinese.
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.
Professor Henry Chase Brownell was born in Burlington on September 1, 1887, the youngest child of Elva Maria Brigham (1850-1920) and prominent Vermonter Chauncey Wells Brownell II (1847-1938). His father graduated from UVM in 1870 and served as Vermont Secretary of State, 1890-1898. Henry attended Burlington High School and graduated from the University of Vermont, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1908. Henry next studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oriel College, Oxford University, from 1910 to 1912. There he received a second B.A. degree in the Honor School of Modern History and won the Davis Cup for proficiency in the written Chinese language and Chinese history and literature. He married Jane "Jennie" Bartlett Menut (who went by Jane M. Brownell) in 1913. Jane was born in 1886, graduated from UVM, class of 1909, and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Henry Brownell was awarded his M.A. degree by Harvard University in 1919. He also studied at Columbia University from 1924-1925.
Professor and Mrs. Brownell were active Congregationalists. Henry taught History and Government at Lingnan University (established as Canton Christian College) starting in 1908. Though the majority of his work was teaching, he was sometimes referred to as a missionary. Mrs. Brownell also taught at Lingnan University and served as Dean of Women. The Brownells were associated with the University until 1950 and therefore contributed to its growth from small beginnings to a system of branch schools and a university of 1400 boys and girls composed of five colleges. Henry rose to the positions of Head of History and Government and Dean of Men. During periods of leave, Professor Brownell took short-term teaching positions at several U.S. universities.
The Japanese invasion led to several changes for Lingnan University and the Brownells. Henry, Jane, and their youngest child, daughter Elizabeth (Betty Jane), were interned for six months before being repatriated to the US in 1942. After the University was restored to Canton from Hong Kong in 1945, the Brownells returned to South China. When the Communists carried revolution into Canton, American teachers were tolerated but by the summer of 1950, it was clear that Western ideas of history and political science would not be tolerated by Communist leadership. Therefore, the Brownells cut short their last term by one year and returned to retirement in Burlington. They were among the last Americans to leave South China without difficulties.
The family included 5 children: Lincoln Brownell (1914-2010), Priscilla Brown, Chauncey Brownell, Ruth Cooper, and Elizabeth Jane Montgomery as well as many grandchildren. Henry Brownell died in 1970. Jane died in 1977.
5.2 Linear Feet (5 cartons, 1 box, 1 oversize folder)
Henry C. Brownell was a history professor at Lingnan University (formerly Canton Christian College) in China from 1908 - 1950. These papers document his life and work and they include correspondence, reports, newsletters, photographs, lecture notes, writings, official legal documents, diaries, calendars and date books, address books, and newspaper clippings. Henry's 1938-1940 diary from the period in which the Japanese occupied China may be of particular interest. Mrs. Jane Brownell, also a teacher at Lingnan University, is represented in the collection.
Library Research Annex; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access.
Names and relationships of extended family are provided in a 1984 note written by Lincoln Brownell (son of Henry and Jane) located in the folders of correspondence from 1924.
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