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John Bates Clark (AC 1872) and Alden Hyde Clark (AC 1900) Family Papers

Identifier: MA.00240

Scope and Contents

The John Bates Clark (AC 1872) and Alden Hyde Clark (AC 1900) Family Papers consist of three linear feet of material (letters, documents, and photographs) documenting three generations of the Clark family. In particular, the papers present information on 20th century missionary activity in India (the American Marathi Mission). There is some limited material from or about earlier and later members of the family, as well as a file of genealogical material, much of it photocopies of recent online research. The bulk of the material is from 1900 to 1940.


  • Creation: 1847-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900-1945


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Clark Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish from the writings of Clark family members requires the written agreement of the Clark family's literary executor, Alden Samuel Clark (, who holds the publication rights. Letters or other writings by individuals other than Clark family members are not subject to this restriction, but requests for permission to publish such material should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

The John Bates Clark (AC 1872) and Alden Hyde Clark (AC 1900) Family Papers document the personal and professional lives of three generations of Clark family members. Personal correspondence among family members comprises the greater part of the papers, supplemented in particular by correspondence between Alden Hyde Clark and his fellow missionaries.

It should be noted that Vassar College graduate Myra Almeda Smith Clark (1873) and Smith College graduates Mary Sheafer Whitcomb Clark (1900) and Mary Lawrence Clark Cannon (1927) are also well represented in this collection through correspondence to and from them. Mary Sheafer Whitcomb Clark's materials are especially extensive and thoroughly document her commitment to and full partnership in both her family and the work of the American Marathi Mission.

There are four main figures in the collection:

John Bates Clark (1847-1938), son of John Hezekiah and Charlotte Huntington Clark, was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Bates Clark, as he was known, attended Brown University for two years (1865-1867) and then enrolled in Amherst College, from which he graduated in 1872 (his studies were interrupted due to his father's ill health). After graduate work in Germany and Switzerland, Clark returned to the United States and taught political economy and history at several institutions, including Amherst College, Smith College, Carleton College, John Hopkins University, and Columbia University. He also served on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Clark was the author of numerous books and articles in his field. His biographical file contains several obituaries that describe his life and work in detail.

Myra Almeda Smith Clark (1853-1940) was the daughter of Jotham Graves and Almira Philma Converse Smith, both originally from Connecticut. Jotham Smith went west in 1855, settling first in Monticello, Minnesota, where his wife, son H. Alden, and daughter Myra joined him. The family moved to Minneapolis in 1863. Smith worked in the milling business and was a founding partner in the firm of Smith, Parker and Co., where he remained until his retirement in 1876. Myra Smith was a graduate of Vassar College in 1873. She met Bates Clark in Minneapolis, where his family had moved in 1868. Myra and Bates married in 1875 and spent their first years together in Minnesota. She died at her son John's Connecticut home in 1940.

The children of Bates and Myra Clark were Frederick Huntington (1877-1956); Alden Hyde (1878-1960); John Maurice (1884-1963); and Helen Converse (m. Lancaster) (1882-1968).

Alden Hyde Clark (1878-1960) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota while his father was a professor at nearby Carleton College. The family moved to Amherst when John Bates Clark took a faculty position at Smith College (1882-1893); he subsequently joined the faculty at Amherst College (1892-1895). Alden Clark graduated from Amherst High School and followed his father's path to Amherst College, graduating in 1900. He received his M.A. from Columbia and then a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary. Clark met Mary Whitcomb while they were undergraduates (Whitcomb at Smith College). The couple realized their mutual calling to missionary work just as Whitcomb was graduating from Smith, when their letters describing their ambitions crossed in the mail. Alden and Mary (often called May) Clark were married in May, 1904 and sailed to India two months later to work as missionaries with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). They served in India for fourteen years, and returned to the United States for the years 1919 through early 1923. Reverend Clark then worked in India again from the spring of 1923 into 1929, while Mary Clark remained in the United States to see the children through school. In 1929 Clark returned to work for the American Board at its headquarters in Boston, where he remained until his retirement in 1947. He died in 1960; see his biographical file for several obituaries.

Mary Sheafer Whitcomb Clark (1875-1970) was the daughter of William Wirt and his second wife Mary Lawrence (Hazeltine) Whitcomb. Mary Whitcomb was born in Malden, Massachusetts, where her father was a businessman. Whitcomb spent much of her youth in Marblehead, which she remembered much later in a letter to her family (Box 4, Folder 10). Her attraction to missionary work may have developed from the religious activities of her parents: her father had worked for the growth of the Congregational Church in New England and was a longtime member of the Massachusetts Temperance Society and the Congregational Club of Boston, while her mother was the daughter of Rev. Robert F. Lawrence and a member herself of the Old South Church.

Alden and Mary Clark had three children, Mary Lawrence (m. Cannon) (1906-2003); John Alden Clark (1907-1974); and William Whitcomb (1911-1988). The early years of the children are well represented in the collection (see especially Mary Lawrence Cannon's vivid memoir, "Namasté - Memories of Growing Up in India" [Box 6, Folder 35]), with limited documentation of their adult lives.


3 Linear feet (6 archives boxes)

Language of Materials



Primarily personal correspondence documenting the lives of members of the Clark family across three generations, especially economist John Bates Clark, his son Alden Hyde Clark (AC 1900), and Alden's three children, Mary Lawrence Clark, John Alden Clark (AC 1929), and William Whitcomb Clark (AC 1933). Includes correspondence between Alden Hyde Clark and his fellow missionaries in India (the American Marathi Mission) and general documentation on 20th century missionary activity in that country.


This collection is organized into three series:

  1. Series 1: Clark Family Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Alden Hyde Clark (AC 1900) Professional Papers, 1903-1960
  3. Series 3: Miscellaneous Clark Family Materials, 1847-2003

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were kept and passed down through three lines of the family of Alden Hyde and Mary Sheafer Whitcomb Clark, namely those of sons John Alden and William Whitcomb Clark, and daughter Mary Lawrence Cannon. The papers were reunited in 2010 through a combined gift to the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.

Related Materials

Related Material at Amherst College:

Alumni Biographical Files for: John Bates Clark (AC 1872); Frederick Huntington Clark (AC 1899); Alden Hyde Clark (AC 1900); John Maurice Clark (AC 1905); John Alden Clark (AC 1929); William Whitcomb Clark (AC 1933); John Bates Clark II (AC 1944); Frank Justus Clark (AC 1946); Alden Samuel Clark (AC 1967); and Alice (Tess) Taylor (AC 2000)

Doshisha University Collection for information about Alden Hyde Clark's work to establish the Amherst College relationship with Doshisha and the Doshisha Fellowship (see also AHC's biographical file for information on this topic)

Dora Judd Mattoon Ward Papers and William Earl Dodge Ward Papers: The Wards were missionaries in India from 1916-1932

Edward and Mary Judson Hitchcock Papers, Box 14, F13 (2 letters from John Bates Clark

Tess Taylor (AC 2000), "Stories in the Attic." Amherst Magazine, Winter, 2011

Related Materials at Other Institutions

Related Material at Other Institutions:

Smith College archival collections for additional materials on Clark family members Mary Sheafer Whitcomb Clark (1900); Mary Lawrence Clark Cannon (1927); and Joan Cannon Borton (1960)

Columbia University for John Bates Clark Papers 1848-1955 and John Maurice Clark Papers, [c1920]-1963

Massachusetts Historical Society for Samuel Whitcomb Papers 1704-1916

Vermont Historical Society in Barre, Vermont, for Deacon Daniel Clark (1753-1854) Papers

Processing Information

Arranged and described in 2010 and 2012 by Margaret R. Dakin, Archives and Special Collections Specialist; Isadora Mota, Archives and Special Collections Specialist; Geoffrey Millener (AC 2011), Student Assistant; and Mariah Sakrejda-Leavitt, Archives and Special Collections Specialist.

Margaret R. Dakin
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299