Accession Number: HC 40
The Papers of Alfred A. and Gertrude C. Gilman
Bulk dates: 1901-1948
4.8 linear feet
Online Catalog Record (BANC)
Series I - Personal and Biographical
Series II - Alfred A. Gilman Correspondence
Series III - Gertrude C. Gilman Correspondence
Series IV - China Mission
Series V - Financial Records
Series VI - Photos
Series VII - Audio tapes
Access and Use
Provenance: The collection is a gift of Louise Frances Gilman Hutchins,
daughter of Alfred A. and Gertrude C. Gilman and wife of Berea College President
Francis S. Hutchins. The collection was received in August, 1989.
Access: The Collection
was opened for research in May 2000.
Preferred Citation: The Alfred and Gertrude Gilman Papers,
Berea College Special Collections & Archives,
- RG 3.05 - Francis S. Hutchins, 1939-67, Berea College Archives
The Papers of Alfred A.
Gilman (1878-1964) and Gertrude C. Gilman (1864-1936) consist primarily
of their personal letters written from China and sent home
and later to their children and grandchildren. Other papers in the collection
relate to Alfred’s mission work, mission financial records, letters from
friends and family, and personal documents.
The collection also contains a number of photographs of the Gilmans, their
children and other family members, and people and places in China related to
their mission work. Also, there is a set of three cassette tapes containing
an interview with Louise Gilman Hutchins on Gilman family history, recorded
in the early 1990s.
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Alfred A. Gilman was born on August 3, 1878 in North Platte, Nebraska.
He was one of eight children, two of whom were from Alfred’s mother’s
first marriage. His mother, Mary Hubbard Kramph Gilman, helped found the North
Platte Episcopal Church and helped instill Alfred with his religious zeal.
Alfred’s father, Platt Jewel Gilman, was a railroad telegrapher who had
a passion for gardening that Alfred inherited. Alfred was a successful and
mature student who became interested in politics at an early age. Always a
hard worker, Alfred graduated from high school at 13 and the University of
Nebraska at 19. After a brief period of struggling between serving in the army
and serving God, Alfred entered Philadelphia Divinity School. Following graduation
in 1901, Alfred began mission work in Wyoming, but felt called to join the
foreign mission field. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest in August, 1902
and left for Hankow, China soon after. Alfred married Gertrude Carter, a fellow
Gertrude Carter Gilman (1864-1936), the eldest daughter of the Reverend Frederick
Brewerton and Fanny Lawrence Carter, was born in Long Island, New York on May
In 1884 the family, which included Gertrude’s four younger siblings,
moved to Montclair, New Jersey. Despite her father’s attempts at discouragement,
Gertrude had dedicated her heart to missionary work. Gertrude attended Wellesley,
and following her graduation in 1896 continued study at the Philadelphia Training
School. Gertrude was assigned by the Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church
to serve in Hankow, China. She arrived in 1901, the year following the Boxer
rebellion of 1900, during which at least 186 missionaries (including children)
and over 1900 Chinese
Christians were killed.
The Gilmans were married on February 22, 1905. Their first child, John Platt,
was born in February, 1906, but died suddenly two and a half years later. Overcoming
this tragedy, the Gilmans found great joy in their younger children, Frederick,
born in 1907, Louise, born in 1911, and Edward, born in 1913.
Alfred served faithfully as a member of the clergy, learning Chinese and
keeping up with political situations and world news. In July 1907, he was
appointed priest at the junior high school he had organized. In 1912 Alfred
was appointed delegate in the first General Synod of The Chinese Holy Catholic
Church, formed by representatives of four mission bodies. He became president
University in 1916. In 1924 the Chinese government imposed a law requiring
to preserve the Hankow mission through contacts and friends in the government,
many of whom had graduated from the schools Alfred was associated with. That
same year Alfred became acting president of the newly founded Central China
University. A year later Alfred became the Bishop of Hankow and initiated a
turnover of Church leadership to the Chinese people.
Gertrude served as an English teacher and Sunday school teacher. As an active
member of the Women’s Auxiliary, she served as president, treasurer,
and educational secretary. She was an active evangelist within the local Chinese
communities, raising money when needed through rummage sales and working with
the Christian United Poor Relief Association. Gertrude and Alfred were partners
in their mission work and together helped found the Chinsan Christian Community
to promote flood relief.
The Gilmans were gracious hosts and Gertrude continually opened their home
to the needy, especially children. In 1936 Gertrude died unexpectedly of pneumonia.
In spite of the loss, Alfred continued with his work. When war broke out between
China and Japan in 1937, Alfred played a role in negotiations on behalf of
his missions. His work allowed the missions to survive most of World War II.
Alfred retired in 1946, only to be recalled to Hankow until 1948; he was
then compelled to leave as tensions grew within China. Until his death on September
13, 1966, Alfred spent his remaining years in the United States, traveling,
visiting family and friends, gardening, and corresponding with family, friends,
and former mission colleagues.
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12 Manuscript Boxes, 4.8 linear ft.
(Box List available by clicking series links below)
These materials, arranged by topic, include autobiographical and
family sketches; biographical material; official certificates;
sermons, speeches and other writings, and genealogical research.
Also included is a folder of Chinese calligraphy letters written
to Alfred Gilman upon his retirement, from Chinese government officials.
One letter is attributed to President Chiang Kai-Shek. Also in
this series is a draft of an essay on Alfred Gilman by his grandson
Robert Lawrence Rosser Hutchins, along with Hutchins’ research
notes and correspondence.
A. Gilman Correspondence
The correspondence, arranged chronologically, consists
primarily of Gilman’s “Dear Folks” letters, which
he typed and made carbon copies of to send to family members and
friends. Those letters are filled with news on his mission work;
observations on political and current events; family news; and
details of his hobbies, which included gardening and building radios.
Also in this series are handwritten, more personal letters by Gilman
and various family members and friends, in particular his mother,
his half-sister Annie Kramph, and his children. Also noteworthy
is Gilman’s correspondence in his retirement years with fellow
China missionaries and former students, and his efforts to aid
acquaintances in China suffering from poverty and illness.
C. Gilman Correspondence
|| Boxes 5-10
Arranged chronologically, this correspondence consists
primarily of Gertrude C. Gilman’s letter to her parents and other family
members. Topics of interest include: letters written during her
years at Wellesley; her determination to pursue her missionary
calling and her efforts to overcome obstacles; details of her mission,
household, and family responsibilities; her observations on spiritual,
social, political and familial matters; and her descriptions of
Chinese people, customs, and geography.
This series, arranged by topic, includes general information on
China mission activities; mission-related correspondence between
people other than the Gilmans; a collection of Hankow Church newsletters,
some edited by Alfred Gilman, and some containing articles written
by Alfred or Gertrude Gilman; and miscellaneous reports, bulletins,
and circular letters.
Arranged by topic and chronologically when dates are available, this series
contains Alfred Gilman’s China mission financial records. Material
includes general accounting records, receipts, notes, and account correspondence.
Arranged by topic, this series includes photos of Chinese art,
landscapes, and people; China missionaries and students; Changsha
fire and bombings; Wright Brothers’ biplanes; Alfred and
Gertrude Gilman, and various family members and friends of the
Three cassette tapes contain an interview with Louise Gilman Hutchins
regarding Gilman family history. Recorded by Richard Troutman in
the early 1990s.
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