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Mission to Siam

Joan Acocella (ed.) & Jessie Mackinnon Hartzell

Publication Year: 2001

"Here ... I have really lived." Jessie MacKinnon Hartzell arrived in Northern Thailand in 1912, the young wife of a recently ordained Presbyterian missionary. Thousands of miles lay between her and her grandparents' farm in Nova Scotia, where she had been born and raised. But over the next sixteen years, Thailand became her beloved new home. She was awed by its physical beauty--the great rivers, the orchid-studded hills--and became devoted to its people. Beginning as a nurse, she eventually directed a small hospital. There she discovered her talent for organization and hard work. She also found, to her grief, that her work separated her from her children. Mission to Siam casts unexpected light on colonialism, the Asia missions, and the convulsive changes that a newly united Thailand underwent in the early twentieth century. It is a significant contribution to the handful of published works that describe firsthand the experience of women missionaries. This is a heartfelt account by a strong, intelligent woman caught between what she owed her family and what she felt she owed herself: a calling, a career, and adventure. With a biographical essay by Joan Acocella and an introduction by Rosalind C. Morris.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-vi


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p. vii

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p. ix

I thank Pamela Kelley and Masako Ikeda of the University of Hawai‘i Press for their expert help; Robert Cornfield, who read the manuscript and advised me throughout the project; Robert Gottlieb, who also read the manuscript, and designed the photo layout; the...

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pp. xi-xxiv

Jessie Hartzell arrived in Siam as the wife of a Presbyterian missionary, Jacob Lott Hartzell, in 1912. At that time, Siam was thoroughly integrated under a single monarch, and improbably independent despite the long-standing territorial ambitions of both French and...

A Note on Transliteration

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p. xxv

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Jessie MacKinnon Hartzell: A Portrait

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pp. xxvii-xliii

The memoir that follows was written by Jessie MacKinnon Hartzell, my maternal grandmother, in her old age. In it she describes the great adventure of her life, her sixteen years (1912–1928) as a missionary in Northern Thailand. The tale is a classic female story, at least of its...

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Chapter One Marriage and Mission, 1911–1912

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pp. 3-8

Norfolk, Virginia, April 1911—I am going home, or rather, to my sister’s home in Montreal, as I am without a permanent abiding place. I have been here in Norfolk as a nurse in a private family. In these last four years two baby boys have arrived, eighteen months...

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Chapter Two First Term of Service: Nan and Lampang, 1912–1919 [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 9-71

San Francisco—We are on our way, by land and sea. This is a beautiful city. There are still traces of the earthquake damage, but the stores are very fine. We are busy with meetings and with visiting retired missionaries, such as Dr. and Mrs. Denman, who were...

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Chapter Three Second Term of Service: Lampang, Phrae, and London, 1919–1927

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pp. 81-120

Lampang—Nothing seems to have changed anywhere in this country, but as far as that goes, very little change has been made in Siam in hundreds of years, so what could a year do? The crocodiles play at being logs, the small birds build their nests the same way year after...

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Chapter Four Third Term of Service: Phrae, 1927–1928

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pp. 121-136

Phrae—Lott met me at Den Chai, fifteen miles from Phrae. We packed everything into the bus and took off. We saved our warm greetings, as it is not proper for a man and woman to show affection in public. Poor Lott! He is so glad to see me back. I guess the last six...

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Chapter Five The End of a Mission: United States, 1928–1931

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pp. 137-143

Indianapolis—Betty has grown up a lot. She is a pretty girl with lovely skin and hair. She draws wonderfully and would like to go to art school. Bob is a big boy with a very nice way of talking. He said, “Oh, Mother, just wait a few minutes. I have my suitcase packed...


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pp. 145-157

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863654
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824822538

Publication Year: 2001

OCLC Number: 52995881
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mission to Siam

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Subject Headings

  • Missionaries -- Thailand -- Biography.
  • Hartzell, Jessie MacKinnon, 1884-1968.
  • Missionaries -- United States -- Biography.
  • Presbyterian Church -- Missions -- Thailand -- History -- 20th century.
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