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Idabelle Main papers

Identifier: Coll 029

Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of correspondence written to and from Main during her time in China, covering the years 1895 through 1969. There is also some correspondence of her stepson Orrin William Main from 1969 until 1978. Missionary literature from Hwanan College and other church materials are included. Also included are Idabelle Main's diaries, kept intermittently from 1910 until 1965. A biography written by Main's niece is in this collection, as well as various pictures from Main's time in China.

The photographs series includes Photographs stored with manuscript boxes and Photographs (PH092). Some photographs are still physically stored with the manuscripts materials and have not yet been removed to be stored with other photographs. The images show scenes of China and Brazil.


  • Creation: 1895-1978


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Idabelle Lewis Main was born December 15, 1887 at Blairstown, Iowa to Wilson Seely Lewis and Fanny McClung. She graduated from Morningside College in 1909 and was assigned by the Women's Society of Christian Services of the Methodist Church to teach at the Keene school in Tientsin, China. She returned in 1916 to Columbia Teachers College, New York.

She returned to Shanghai, China in 1919 to work for the Women's Society of Christian Service. In 1921 she was appointed president of the Hwanan College, Foochow, China. She held this position until 1926 when she returned to the Women's Society to serve as editor of the Mission paper.

In 1932 she married Reverend William A. Main and lived in China until 1941 when the Japanese invasion forced them to return to the United States where they bought a home in Mill Valley, California. In 1942 Dr. Main served as a minister of the Tamalpais Valley Community Church. After her husband's death in 1945 she returned to Foochow, China where she taught until 1949. She returned to Mill Valley and in 1950 accepted a position at Bennetts College in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a position she held until 1955. She lived in her family home until 1961 and then moved to the Robincroft Home for retired missionary women, where she lived until her death in 1969.


3 linear feet (8 containers)

Language of Materials



Idabelle Main (1887-1969) was a Christian missionary in China, serving from 1909 through 1941 and then again from 1946 to 1949. She served in Tientsin, Shanghai, and Foochow at multiple colleges and also worked as an editor. The collection includes correspondence, church materials, diaries and a biography written by her niece. Also included are photographs from her time in China.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I. Correspondence

Series II. Hwanan College and Missionary Materials

Series III. The Morningside Newspaper

Series IV. Pamphlets and Books

Series V. Diaries

Series VI. Miscellaneous

Series VII. Memoirs

Series VIII. Biography

Series IX. Photographs; Subseries A: Photographs (Coll 092); Subseries B: Photographs (PH092)

Series X. Oversize.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Idabelle Main in 1965; gift of Dorothy Walters in 1981.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection has been microfilmed. Microfilm reels are available for purchase, or via Inter-library Loan. When requesting reels for this collection, please request: “Women’s Lives, Series 3, American Women Missionaries and Pioneers Collection, reel(s) 1-7.”

Guide to the Idabelle Main Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Troy Barnard, Manuscripts Processor
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA