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Mary Emma Butler papers

Identifier: Mss 131 large

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.


  • Creation: approximately 1903-1979

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 authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

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).


.4 Linear Feet : 1 box (7 folders) ; :illustrations ; 27 x 32 x 13 cm.

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from McBlains Books in 2012.


"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.


Some annotations in the hand of Jeffrey Butler.

Varying Form of Title

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

Processing Information

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

Finding Aid for the Mary Emma Butler papers
4 Published And Cataloged
Finding aid created by Corrine Vieracker and Leslie M. Behm, November 2012, updated in 2016 by Lydia Tang.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA