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William Earl Dodge Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers

Identifier: MA.00234

Scope and Contents

The collection encompasses the papers of W.E.D. Ward and several of his family members in the Ward and Bliss lines.

The W.E.D. Ward (AC 1906) Papers consist of Earl Ward's correspondence, diaries, notes, photographs, printed materials and memorabilia. The bulk of this material is correspondence to and from various family members. Of particular interest are the letters Ward wrote home from his various overseas posts, beginning with those from his trip to Turkey in 1909. In addition to these letters, the collection contains various photographs, especially of Turkey and India; W.E.D. Ward's biographical documents such as birth certificate, passports, etc.; and miscellaneous material related to both his work and his personal life.

The papers also include correspondence, diaries, photographs and other memorabilia relating to several members of the Ward family. There is an assortment of general genealogical material, such as family trees, correspondence with inquiries into the Ward genealogy, etc., which was collected by various members of the family.

There is also a series of letters between Edwin Elisha and Isabella Holmes Porter Bliss, writing from Constantinople, and their children William H. P. Bliss, Isabella Dwight and Laura A. Ward, living in the United States. The letters span the years 1876-1896 and are organized in a single chronological set.


  • Creation: circa 1790-1977


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the William Earl Dodge Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the William Earl Dodge Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers 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

Son, grandson, brother, husband, nephew, uncle, and cousin of missionaries, William Earl Dodge Ward was born in Newton Center, Massachusetts in 1884 to Langdon Storer Ward, Treasurer of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and Laura Arixene Bliss Ward, daughter of Edwin and Isabella Bliss and herself a missionary at a young age. Ward, known to family and friends as Earl, spent the first twenty-two years of his life in Massachusetts. His father died in 1895 when Earl was not quite 11 years old, leaving Laura Ward with seven children (an eighth having died earlier) to raise on a small income. Laura Ward had made a commitment to her husband to educate the children - all of them, including the girls - and she followed through on the promise, sending Earl and his brothers to Amherst College (Earl and his twin Mark Hopkins Ward were graduates in the Class of 1906) and daughters Mary, Ruth, and Laura to Mt. Holyoke College. Laura herself moved to Amherst to be near her children.

All but one of the close-knit Ward children became missionaries. When Earl's turn came, he went first to the mission station in Harpoot, Turkey in 1909, serving as treasurer of Euphrates College and the Harpoot mission. As his letters home testify, the position was not a good match, and Earl returned to the U.S. in 1913. In 1915 he married missionary Dora (or Doreen) Judd Mattoon (1883-1979), whom he had met while in Harpoot, where Doreen taught in schools and was a touring missionary (supervising native Bible women) in the area until her marriage in 1915.

The YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) next posted Earl and Dora to India, which seems to have been a happier match. The couple worked in Calcutta from 1916-1922 and again from 1930-1932, and in Bombay from 1922-1929. In 1932 Earl and Dora were posted for six months in Egypt before being recalled to the U.S. due to funding problems during the Great Depression. Upon his return to the U.S., Earl then worked for the YMCA in New Hampshire. After his retirement in 1952 he moved back to Amherst and became involved with alumni affairs at Amherst College as a devoted and active member of the Class of 1906.

One of Earl Ward's hobbies was photography, and the collection includes several hundred photographs documenting his work and surroundings in both Turkey and India.

Earl Ward died in 1977, and Dora Ward in 1979.

Other members of the Ward family represented in the collection include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Earl's father Langdon Storer Ward (1828-1895), treasurer of the ABCFM for 29 years, and mother, Laura Arixene Bliss (1846-1914). Laura Ward's parents Isabella Holmes Porter Bliss (1819-1897) and Edwin Elisha Bliss (1817-1892, AC 1837) missionaries in Turkey, are also well represented in the collection.
  2. Earl's twin, Mark Hopkins Ward (1884-1952), a physician and administrator involved in overseeing medical work, in Turkey, Syria, China, France, and India. Immediately after WWI, Mark Ward was stationed in Harpoot, Turkey, providing relief to the refugees of war until the Turks expelled him. He then returned to the U.S. and helped raise funds for Near East relief. After leaving work abroad, he served as medical secretary for the ABCFM until his death in 1952.
  3. Edwin St. John (1880-1951, AC 1900), Earl's older brother, was a surgeon in Turkey and Syria (1907-1911; 1947-1948), and dean of the Medical School of the American University of Beirut, and afterward a surgeon in Massachusetts hospitals and institutions. Edwin and his brother Mark also performed relief work for the Red Cross in Constantinople (Istanbul) during WWI.
  4. Sisters Laura Dwight Ward (1887-1972), Ruth Porter Ward Beach (1881-1933), and Mary Isabella Ward (1874-1961) were all graduates of Mt. Holyoke College and became missionaries in China (Laura, from 1914-1950, and Ruth, from 1911-1933) and Turkey (Mary, from 1900-1944).
  5. Paul Theodore Bliss Ward (1878-1910; AC 1899) taught at Robert College in Turkey for three years (1899-1902) and then returned to work in the U.S. for the Samuel Ward Co. until his early death in 1910.

Box 4, folder 4 contains a useful letter (April 21, 1968) from Earl Ward to a younger family member outlining the lives and careers of his parents, grandparents, and siblings.


8 Linear feet (3 records storage boxes, 3 archives boxes, 2 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials



The William Earl Dodge Ward (AC 1906) Family Papers document the personal and professional lives of multiple generations of Ward and Bliss family members, dating from 1791 to 1977. Family correspondence makes up the largest portion of the material, supplemented with work records, diaries, memorabilia, photographs, writings, genealogical materials, and newspaper clippings.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Ward-King-Storer-Fairfield Family Papers (1791-1889)
  2. Series 2: Edwin E. and Isabella H. Porter Bliss Family Papers (1852-1925)
  3. Series 3: Langdon S. and Laura A. Bliss Ward Family Papers (1873-1972)
  4. Series 4: William E. D. and Dora J. Mattoon Ward Papers (1911-1977)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Earl Ward in the early 1970s.

Names of Women in the Collection

Women in the Bliss and Ward families who figure regularly in the collection and whose marital histories are known are listed in two ways in order to clarify whether an item is relative to their lives before marriage or after:

Name form before marriage: First name, maiden name, [married name] and Name form after marriage: First name, maiden name, married name As an example, Earl's mother is Laura A. Bliss [Ward] before her marriage and Laura A. Bliss Ward after marriage. A letter she wrote before her marriage will be identified as written by Laura A. Bliss [Ward], while a letter written after her marriage will be identified as written by Laura A. Bliss Ward.

Processing Information

The papers were minimally processed and made available in the 1980s and were reprocessed in 2013 by Margaret R. Dakin, Archives Specialist.

Margaret R. Dakin, Archives Specialist
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