Mary Emma Butler papers Edit


Mss 131 large


  • approximately 1903-1979 (Creation)


  • .4 Linear Feet (Whole)



  • Scope and Contents

    The Mary Emma Butler papers contain correspondence, photographs and articles by her, newspaper clippings chiefly from Midland News (1903-70, notably a regular column "The Non-White Community") on black education, sport, personalities, related documents. Correspondents include her niece Joan, Keith Cramer, lawyer in Cradock; editor of Midlands News (November 1928, on visit of black leader R.V. Selope Thema). Subjects include providing books for black schools and bursaries for black students, Oxfam, Quaker relief in Cradock (1965), "Location Sketches" (15 leaves based on Africans she knew), Easter procession by churches, 1953, "Work for racial harmony" (1954), her articles on war/military training (1954-5), some published in S.A. Quaker, "In defence of the A.N.C." on the African National Congress, clippings, documents and letters on water supply in Cradock (1903-48, including manuscript poems on water (published 1916) and other themes (one critical of General Hertzog), a large photograph of the opening of the first reservoir, and a pamphlet, Water Supply Investigation (Cradock: Cradock Municpality, 1920), correspondence with Africans, 1934-77, and Group Areas Act of apartheid.

  • Biographical / Historical

    Mary Butler (b. 1884, d. 1977), daughter of newspaper publisher James Butler, lived in Cradock, and later (1965-197?) Grahamstown, South Africa. Her father published a newspaper that was considered pro-Boer but had a reputation for reliable, anti-racist policies. The Butler family was one of five Quaker families in the area. Mary Butler was active in liberal and church circles such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation and assisted a dispensary in Cradock's Black "location." She worked with Child Welfare, which she helped found, and the Joint Council of Europeans and Non-Europeans. She was an aunt of brothers Guy Butler (1918-2001, major South African poet, professor at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa) and Jeffrey Butler (1922-2008, professor of history, Wesleyan University).

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The material is stored offsite in Remote Storage. Please contact Special Collections 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchased from McBlains Books in 2012.

  • General

    "Probably collected by ... Jeffrey [Butler] for use in writing his unfinished book about Cradock. Ms. Butler was a Quaker. Included in this material is a file marked 'MPB Corres. with Africans,' as well as material on water treatment, efforts to soften racist treatment, etc."--vendor note.

  • General

    Some annotations in the hand of Jeffrey Butler.

  • Varying Form of Title

    Mary Butler papers on Cradock, South Africa, and the Butler family.

  • Preferred Citation

    Item, Folder number and/or title, Box number, Mary Emma Butler papers, MSS 131, Special Collections, MSU Libraries, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

  • Processing Information

    Processed by Corrine Vieracker and Leslie M. Behm in November 2012.