Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Bertha E. Davis papers, 1892 -- 1960

Bertha E. Davis papers, 1892 -- 1960

This series may contain some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

1.5 linear feet; 1.5 linear feet; 4 boxes

This series contains diaries, address books, expense records, photographs, a copy of the 1946 Anglican Bishops Report from the Diocese of Rangoon, and other personal items relating to Davis's life before, during, and after her missionary work in Burma from 1899-1931. The bulk of the collection is diaries. Earlier diary entries (1892-1899) reveal the details of her final years at Franklin College, her announcement to her father of her intention to become a foreign missionary, and her entrance into the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Union's training program in Chicago. There are only two brief diaries from her time in Burma: one from February 1900, and a later entry on scrap paper from July 22, 1916. These entries, however, contain information including the weather in Burma, descriptions of the villages, relationships between Protestant and Catholic missionary stations, and folk tales from the Karen people, an ethnic group in Southern Burma. Most of the diaries in the collection document Davis's life after returning to the United States; spanning from 1932 to 1940, they discuss her life traveling locally and participating in various church-related activities, as well as the details of her family relationships, and records of the weather with great consistency and detail. In addition to diaries, the collection contains nine address books, six ledgers of Davis' expense records that date from 1916 to 1937, and three memo books containing a combination of addresses, expenses, notes, and diary entries, some of which relate to her time in Burma. The collection also includes an undated account of Davis' memories from childhood, some correspondence, a Longmans' Burmese Primer from 1933 with language exercises in Burmese phonetics, an undated class grade record, and a document entitled "Ecclesia Resurgens: Bishop's Report for the half year ending 31st Dec. 1945." Printed in 1946, this report was compiled by George Algernon West, Anglican Lord Bishop of Rangoon, who was one of the first British civilians allowed back into Burma after the defeat of the Japanese in World War II. It details his experience of post-war return, including an account of rebuilding his cathedral, which had been converted into a distillery for Japanese occupiers, the process of re-establishing the diocesan administration, and stories of Christian victory and persecution during wartime. There is also scrapbook of photographs, some of which are presumably from her time in Burma.

This series is arranged by format.

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Box 1 Folder 1 Diary, December 1892 – January 1894

Box 1 Folder 2 Diary, June 1895 – January 1899

Box 1 Folder 3 Diary, February 2-19, 1900 and July 22, 1916

Box 1 Folder 4 Diary, February – October 1932

Box 1 Folder 5 Diary, 1934

Box 1 Folder 6 Diary, January – April 1935

Box 1 Folder 7 Diary, January 1935 – July 1938

Box 1 Folder 8 Diary, April 1936 – August 1936

Box 2 Folder 1 Diary, July 1936 – March 1937

Box 2 Folder 2 Diary, February – September 1939

Box 2 Folder 3 Diary, September 1939 – August 1940

Box 2 Folder 4-8 Address Books, circa 1899 and 1923

Box 3 Folder 1 Expense Record Ledgers, 1916 and 1930

Box 3 Folder 2 Expense Record Ledgers, 1931 -- 1935

Box 3 Folder 3 Expense Record Ledgers, 1935 -- 1937

Box 3 Folder 4 Memo Book, 1897

Box 3 Folder 5 Memo Books, 1903 -- 1924

Box 3 Folder 6 Longmans' Burmese Phonetic Language Primer, 1933

Box 3 Folder 7 Ecclesia Resurgens: Bishop's Report from Diocese of Rangoon, 1946

Box 3 Folder 8 Correspondence, 1914 -- 1960

Box 3 Folder 9 Notes on Childhood, circa 1900 -- 1960

Box 3 Folder 10 Class Grade Records, circa 1900 -- 1960

Box 4 Scrapbook, circa 1900 -- 1960

This item is open for research, but is extremely fragile, necessitating great care in handling. Please contact Burke Library staff for more information.