[Agatha Mary Harrison, women's rights reformer and friend of Mahatma Gandhi.] Eighteen Signed Letters (sixteen in Autograph) and one card to H. Herbert C. Arthur, regarding her work for the American YWCA on child labour in China. With other matter.

Agatha Mary Harrison (1885-1954), English Quaker women's rights reformer and close friend of Mahatma Gandhi [World YWCA; women's rights; industrial welfare; child labour; China; H. Herbert C. Arthur]
Publication details: 
London, Prague, Asbury Park, Bristol, Manchester. Between 1924 and 1928.
SKU: 15982

16 ALsS, 2 TLsS, 1 ACS. Also included are a draft of Arthur's first letter to Harrison (see Item Twenty below), a photograph of Harrison and Mary S. Sims (Item Twenty-three), and two papers on workers' rights in China (Items Twenty-one and Twenty-two). The collection is in good condition, on lightly aged and worn paper. Ten of the nineteen items are in their envelopes, addressed to Arthur at 59 Howard Rd, New Malden, Surrey, with three sent from on board ship (SS Aquitania, SS Mauretania and SS Berengaria). The letters total 43pp. (see each letter for format). As her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography explains, after championing women's workers rights in Nottingham and Hull, in 1917 Harrison had been appointed by the London School of Economics to the first academic post in Britain concerned with industrial welfare. 'This work led to her appointment in 1921 by the Young Women's Christian Association as an investigator into industrial conditions in China. There she became particularly concerned with the issue of child labour, and her often successful efforts to persuade industrialists to dispense with it gave her valuable experience in negotiating in adverse conditions. | From 1925 to 1928 she worked in the USA for the YWCA's education and research division, after which she returned to Britain to work for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.' The present correspondence covers the period of Harrison's work with the Women's YWCA, an organisation which had, since its Berlin Conference of 1910, switched its emphasis to the amelioration of social problems and the education of working women. Harrison had been introduced to the recipient H. Herbert C. Arthur, an active figure in the English Wesleyan Methodist movement, through her American colleague Mary S. Sims (1886-1976), with whom she stayed in New York, an intense relationship existinng between the two women. (An extensive collection of Sims's letters to Arthur is offered separately.) Sims was the YWCA 'Secretary for Cities' and Arthur's cousin (see Item Twenty below). The strength of Harrison's extraordinary character shines through vividly in the present correspondence. She is a modern, enlightened woman of conviction, working with determination for social change within an organisation with liberal values. Mainly concerned with the question of child labour in China, she attends meetings with the 'textile men' of Liverpool and Manchester, and conferences in Prague (where she makes an address) and Asbury Park, and prepares for an interview with the Labour leader and future Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. Her 'rather heavy' sense of responsibility' makes her feel a 'fool', and she quarrels with Arthur, who has taken 'a large bit of the burden of this thing'. Her aim, she writes, is to convey to him 'a vision of a great need. Knowing what that has done to my life - I can only wish the same for you'. ONE: '9.30 p.m.' [1924] On letterhead of 406A King's Road, Chelsea, SW10 [London]. 2pp., 8vo. Arranging a meeting 'at the Gaiety Theatre corner (I imagine it is there still) of the Strand & Aldwych at 4.30'. Regarding Sims she writes: 'Mary is a very special person - so any friend of hers would naturally be of interest to me.' TWO: 5 September 1924. 'at Hull'. 4pp., 12mo. 'Sincerity is a rare thing - at least the real kind is - so when I meet it I'm never "amused" [...] Why did you hedge your letter round with so much apprehension - didn't you know perfectly well I'd take what you said just as you meant it? | Of course I gasped - chiefly because I read your letter rushing off in a taxi to have lunch with my late employer - & in my bag I had some letters to post one of which was the decision to go back to America early next year. | I'd like to tell you why I've come to that decision - Can we meet again for tea?' THREE: 2 October 1924, 'at Hotel Passage | Prague', on letterhead of 'Sociální ústav ?eskoslovenské republiky'. 4pp., 8vo. 'Here I am sitting solemnly in the Chamber of Deputies - with one ear open for an impassioned orator in French. I've learned one thing - that not one day longer must I be unable to understand fully - & speak imperfectly - French & German. Internationalism is impossible unless you can understand at least 2 other languages other than your own - I'm now led to believe! [...] I tried hard to see you before I left, but there were wearisome cttees right up to the end. At Swanwick a Wesleyan conf. of a select nature was also in session.

was there. Mr Carter. etc. the latter - asked me if I'd come in front of their I.

: Cttee (Wesleyan) & later - if I'd join them at Communion - I hd to tell him I didn't want to. Once or twice when I was at school I went - but never since. I don't think friend Carter knew what to make of me! | I've read Hovelaque [sic] - & there is not as much as I was led to expect - but much that will provoke discussion. [...] I mounted to the speakers desk - under the Presidents chair & addressed the Conf: on China. A Conference that has met to discuss home day-workers' councils & unemployment. And the East - unless they all watch will wreck everything - I'd been given 30 min: but half an hour before I spoke I was told I could have 5 mins ! ! I'd like to tell you about it one day. It was a pompous

audience - & struck terror to my heart. Then my mind went back to the night shift I saw just before I left - & the memory of the absolute rightness of the cause - stiffened my knees - & somehow I got through - Its all over - & what I said is to be presented by the British delegation in some significant resolution to the Conference later.' FOUR: [2 November 1924] 'at 406a Kings Road S.W10 | Sunday'. 3pp., 8vo. 'Next week are my most important meetings in Liverpool & Manchester - do you know how I've wanted to get at these textile men. | At one place I found a group just beginning the study of Hovelaque's [sic] book [see Item Eighteen below] & I realised then I needed these points you mentioned by [sic] me.' She asks him to repeat in writing his opinion of the book. 'I talked so much at our last tea, instead of making notes of what you said! I have not forgotten Henry Hodgkins book'. She has heard that Mary Sims is ill ('What a terrible nuisance a body is'). She has had lunch with 'the Bishop of Birmingham (Barnes)'. FIVE: 30 December 1924. 2pp., 8vo. 'Tomorrow I go to Manchester for the Students Conference - to speak twice - woe is me. [...] I sail Feb: 18th for New York. To disturb my peace of mind a note came 2 weeks ago from the National Xtian Council of India if I'd come out there & help them do what was being done in China on the industrial question!!' SIX: [30 January 1925] 'at Manchester | Friday'. 1p., 12mo. She is 'having an annoying time' in Manchester and proposes an arrangement to tell him about it on her return to London. SEVEN: 'In a Conference - at Asbury Park -' [Conference on Religious Institutes and Summer Schools, 6 May 1925]. 3pp., 12mo. 'I'm sitting next to Mary in a conference of earnest men & women - & we've 4 elephant sized blackboards - & a chairman who stands with chalk poised ready to put our ill considered thoughts down on the said blackboard. Its all very funny - we're supposed to be seeing how Xtianity can be applied to current issues. There's one very tiresome man with huge horn-rimmed glasses that Mary & I particularly dislike - he's got fat hands for one thing - & talks a lot - & thinks he's clever. I've picked him out of the whole group for Mary to marry. I tell her there's no choice. [Sims has added the note in pencil: '(Of course he is already married | M.)'] Just a little way away is the sea - & soon Mary & I will go & look at this wideness'. EIGHT: 3 May 1926. On letterhead of the National Board of the Young Womens Christian Associations of the United States of America, New York. 3pp., 8vo. Regarding Sims, who is in England, she writes: 'Inevitably she is going to be called in to a considerable extent on the W.C.A situation in England - it just can't be helped - and investigated. At odd times you've met me after I've had a heavy time - & it meant much to me of rest & refreshment. This is just to say - when Mary is in London attending meetings - will you watch her carefully - & insist on her having tea - etc She's very tiresome about food unless she's watched. [...] Even I believe she has to be in these British meetings - they value her opinion - I'm glad you'll be on hand to be a safety valve'. NINE: TLS. 27 September 1926. 1p., 4to. With one enclosure (see below). She gives him permission to use a 'memorandum', and asks him to say that 'it was prepared by some of us who have been working in other countries on the industrial question for the committee that is making the agenda for the coming International Missionary Council'. She is enclosing (see below) 'a letter I have just received from the Chinese delegate who went to the World's Committee at Oxford (the same meeting that Mary attended.) It is rather a personal kind of a letter but it expresses so much the feeling of a great number of people that I want you to see it. When all the reasoned arguments have been applied to the Chinese situation you are still left with this great spiritual upheaval that so few people take into account. You cannot reckon with it with gunboats though you can temporarily quell it. I hold my breath every day wondering what the outcome will be.' She is also sending (not present) 'a copy of the petition that the Y.W.C.A. in China presented to the Boxer Indemnity Commission. That delegation is now back in England and I imagine that Parliament will be considering their report in the near future. I consider this statement is a reasonable one and it represents the opinion of a large number of people. If only we would be generous instead of merely logical what a profound effect it would have on the present situation.' Enclosed is a typed copy (3pp., 8vo) of a document headed: 'By request Mrs. Mei and Miss Ting in May presented to the British Indemnity Delegation, on behalf of the Y.W.C.A., the following statement (free translation) concerning current Chinese opinion regarding use of the British Indemnity funds.' TEN: [undated (signed 'A. H.'), enclosed by Sims in a letter of 12 October 1926.] On letterhead as Item Seven. 1p., 12mo. ELEVEN: 30 June 1927. With Southampton postmark, 'On board S.S. "Majestic".' 3pp., 12mo. 'Here I am within sight of England again - & its a good feeling. I had decided to stay in England & work - then suddenly 10 days before I sailed they asked me to come back to take the work of a colleague of mine who has suddenly died. So I go back for a year at the end of September & in between I'm going to rest & go to a few Conferences - & probably to the Assembly (if I can get in) at Geneva. [...] I'm deep in China of course - one of my interviews is to be with Ramsay Macdonald re the whole affair. [...] Thank you for your efforts on China's behalf with Mr Carter. I remember him well when he first came in to the Ministry & thought he was rather stupid & not given to "seeing things"' TWELVE: ACS, postmarked from Bristol, 5 July 1927. THIRTEEN: TLS, 30 December 1927. 1p., 4to. 'I have got several friends in the Student movement and one particularly, Margaret Reed, [in manuscript: 'Annandale North End Rd Golders Green N.W1'] who was one of our secretaries in India and is particularly interested in foreign students that come to England.' A twelve-line quotation from a letter from Reed to her on 'the Student Movement' follows. FOURTEEN: 1 March 1928. On letterhead as Item Seven. 2pp., 8vo. 'Mary will probably have told you what has happened - Miss Cratty [Mabel Cratty (1868-1928)] - the very marvellous head of this Association died on Monday. Its hard to convey to anyone outside just what this means - its a deep personal, as well as a corporate - loss. And it is a knock down blow for Mary - for without reservation she accorded this woman a respect & love & obedience that was unquestioned. Knowing Mary - you'll be able to judge of the kind of person Miss Cratty was - when I say this'. Sims 'needs all the "standing by" of her friends just now - her wistful elf-like face these days haunts me.' Two newspaper cuttings regarding Cratty's death are included with the letter, one of which has a headline describing her as 'Director of 600,000 Members, 110 Foreign Officials and All Local Association Heads'. FIFTEEN: '20 Dudham Park | Bristol' [no date]. 2pp., 12mo, plus pencil note of 1p., 12mo. Sending and praising the poems of Carl Sandburg. 'Dr Lew arrived Friday & went straight to Swanwick - They want him to go to Winchester & I hope he will for then we can travel to Swanwick together for I am going to the Second Student Conf. there after Winchester. [...] I bought Mary a cherry dress yesterday. I suddenly saw it in a shop here. & as the Americans say, "it had her name on"'. SIXTEEN: '20 Dudham Park | Bristol | Tues' [no date]. 3pp., 4to. 'I'm glad you liked Mr Koo - I felt you did. Mr S

is all you say - but I have a soft corner for him - because it was through him that Child Labour Commission was appointed. He was a real friend at court & cared. And he was miles ahead of his colleagues - why he stood out as an understanding person on China ! ! ! So you can imagine what the others are like & why I have so many white hairs [...] You must know perfectly well that you have been a great help to me over these rather difficult months. Naturally I want your help for China - you're in touch with people - you preach - & I wanted you to see some of the "underneath" part of the problem. Your letter, & comments on Mr Koo & Mr S

show me that you've sensed it all. And to help on this one does not need to go to China - the work on it is this end - something must be done with the "Mr S

' while they are growing up. | I feel you have taken a large bit of the burden of this thing - so can you imagine what that means - for I happen to be a fool, & feel a rather heavy responsibility not only for the tragic little men d

of 687 in

- but the bigger question of our attitude - so do you understand why I hate your remarks? | Now we'll call a truce'. SEVENTEEN: 'Monday | Bristol' [no date]. 4pp., 12mo. 'Pax. & a truce on your own terms - how could it be otherwise after your letter! I hate things that are not mutual - & felt from your letter you had no realisation, of what a help knowing you had been to me too. | But now I see that I've passed on in a slight measure what Grace

gave to me - a vision of a great need. Knowing what that has done to my life - I can only wish the same for you' A long postscript describes how 'Those textile men in Manchester have taken hold of this thing', with reference to the China Section of the Chamber of Commerce and the International Labour Office. EIGHTEEN: 'Glasgow | Monday' [no date]. 2pp., 8vo. 'Mother & I are having a good, tho' damp time. Learning to be an aunt is a humiliating process - my small niece stares through me with wide gray blue eyes - You feel more baffled before a child than anyone else on earth.' NINETEEN: 'Sunday' [no date, 1924?]. 20 Dudham Park | Bristol. 2pp., 4to. Regarding two books. The first, Emil Hoverlacque's 'China' (see Item Four above), contains a 'diatribe on missionaries especially in China'; and the other, Tawney's 'Acquisitive Society', has a final chapter which 'explains what I feel very adequately [...] its my answer to what you said about your unsureness versus people's sureness'. TWENTY: Corrected pencil autograph draft of Arthur's first letter to Harrison (removed from a letter to him from Sims, 19 May 1924). 1p., 8vo. Begins: 'Dr Miss Harrison, | I have a cousin, Mary Sims of Simsbury & New York, who has suggested that I should invite you to have a "dish o' tay" (as Cornish people say) with me somewhere in London during your stay there.' He states that 'Mary & I have a certain regard for each other [...] I leave Kingsway at 4 o/c every day. We could probably find some purveyor of cut cake & cigarettes which Mary says is ordinarily agreeable to you.' TWENTY-ONE and TWENTY-TWO: Two typescripts. The first (4pp., 8vo) headed 'Message of the National Christian Council to the Christians in China. | Adopted by the Executive Committee, July 15, 1925'. Autograph message from Harrison at head: 'I thought these would interest you.' The second (2pp., 8vo) headed 'Greetings to all missionary brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ in China'. Autograph message by Harrison at head: 'Chefoo is in North China & the centre of the industry'. The two items removed from a letter from Sims to Arthur, 11 September 1925. TWENTY-THREE and TWENTY-FOUR: Two small black and white photographic prints, both with image of 6 x 4 cm. The first shows a smiling Sims and Harrison, captioned by Sims on reverse: 'Not to [be] outdone by you in the matter of pictures | This is Annie and me on our roof - Taken in May'. The second is of a tree in snow, and is captioned by Sims on reverse: 'This is our same roof - that our back windows look on the 1st. day of April when we had the biggest snow of the year. It is the same corner where we are standing in the other picture'. The two photographs have been removed from a letter from Sims to Arthur, 15 August 1924.