Alice Browne Frame

Mount Holyoke College, Class of 1900


 A picture of Alice Browne Frame when she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1900. (Mount Holyoke College Archives)

Frame's Early Life

Alice Browne Frame came to Mount Holyoke from her childhood home in Turkey, where her parents were missionaries. While at Mount Holyoke, Frame was involved in the YWCA missionary society, the walking club, the Debating Society, and a secret society. After graduating from Mount Holyoke, she attended Hartford Theological Seminary on a scholarship, graduating in 1903 with a degree in religious pedagogy. After graduating, she attended Columbia University for a semester and then worked for the Women's Board of Missions of the Congregational Church in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1905, Frame left for China to work as a missionary there.



 The Congregational Church in Tungchou, China, where Frame was first stationed as a missionary. (Mount Holyoke College Archives)

Frame's Missionary Work

Frame's work while in China included teaching, both in actual schools and teaching local women in the study of the Bible. She really enjoyed the new culture that she was getting involved in, and wrote home to the Women's Board of Missions of the Colgregational Church (her employers) about it: "I'm discovering I have another name, another age, another language, people, and country" (November 24, 1905). She did feel compelled to separate the native population's religion from the rest of their cultural practices, though, and she wrote in the same letter that she was envious of her students' talents in writing Chinese and "[t]he New Year's time is full of heathen superstitions" (January 31, 1906).



 The Women's College where Alice Browne Frame taught. This is a picture of her pupils returning from collecting money for famine relief during the famine of 1920-1921. (Mount Holyoke College Archives)

Frame's Personal Life

Frame had a few placements while she was in China. She started out in Tungchou, in northern China and was later transferred to Peking. During her time in Peking, she taught at the Women's Union College, later a part of Yenching University. Her personal life while in China included her marriage in 1913 to another missionary named Murray Frame. She was quite overjoyed at this event, as by this time she was 35 years old. She wrote home to the Board "but this time she came with a man who thought that college missionaries were all very well, but that they needed taking care of, and he was quite determined to look after this particular one for the rest of her life" (April 15, 1918). Frame had three children, Frances (1915-1916), Murray Jr. (1916), and Rosamond (1917-1963, MHC '38). Shortly after Rosamond was born, Murray Frame died, just as the family was on their way to America on furlough. Alice decided to stay in China and continue working: "College and woman's work alike are crippled, and I can't bear to go home, -- and visit, -- and sit around. I want to go to work, -- at once" (June 9, 1918).


 A picture of Alice Browne Frame at Mount Holyoke after recieving her honorary doctoral degree in 1929, with Helen Calder. (Mount Holyoke College Archives)


Alice Browne Frame finally did make it home on that furlough, and on one a few years later she served as Dean of Residence at Mount Holyoke. At the end of that year, in 1929, Mount Holyoke awarded her an honorary doctoral degree. Frame ended up coming home permanently from her missionary work in 1941, and she died from cancer shortly thereafter. Most of the information in my paper and webpage about Frame came from letters that she wrote home to the Women's Board of Missions of the Congregational Church in Boston, Massachusetts. They were difficult to interpret because of the nature of the letters, official correspondance presenting the sunny side of missionary work, with no mention of homesickness. The letters became more personal as the years in China progressed, presumably because the actual work stayed much the same and it was only Frame's perception of it and how she fit into it that changed. Another thing which becomes obvious from these letters is Frame's ability to maintain close friendships with women whom she is geographically distanced from.


Alice's family was really related to MHC!

Alice Browne Frame was class of 1900 and I was really interested about how she might have come all the way from her childhood home in Turkey to go to Mount Holyoke. It turns out tht her mother, Leila Kendall Browne. was a non-graduating member of the class of 1887. Leila left Mount Holyoke in 1886 to marry Alice's father and move to Turkey as a missionary's wife. (Alice's father went to Harvard.) Alice was one of six children, three of whom were girls. A sister of Alice's, Edith, went to Mount Holyoke as a non-graduating member of the class of 1907. The daughter of Alice's third sister, Agnes, went to Mount Holyoke as well (Margaret Harland, 1928). One of Alice's brothers married a Mount Holyoke graduate (Dorothy Kyberg, 1916), and another one of her brothers sent a daughter to Mount Holyoke (Leila K Browne, 1945). Alice's daughter, Rosamond, was a member of the class of 1938. Alice was pretty much destined to come here, as were many of the female members of her family.


What's in the box?

Something interesting that I found out about while I was researching Alice's life was found in the box containing the class letters of the class of 1900. A folder in the back of the box tells of a box, a sort of time-capsule, that the class of 1900 left for the class of 2000, to be opened at our graduation, in the presence of three members of the class of 1950. What a neat legacy to leave our class! Apparently our class board is already working on a box for some future class.


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This page created 4/14/99. Last updated 5/6/99.

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