Although missionary men in general believed that true missionary work of conversion was only conducted by men, American missionary women's secular efforts in promoting education among women and children were quite successful in early Meiji Japan. While male authorities made men's and women's tasks quite distinct, they could resent the success of missionary women. Observing the rapidly expanding "woman's work," Dr. James Curtis Hepburn, in the following letter, insisted on the need to "stand up against" the increasing presence and demand of women. For him, men's work was much more important than women's work.
Yokohama Oct. 12. 1878
Dear Dr. Lowrie
I was requested at our Mission meeting yesterday to write to you and the Com. About the case of Miss Houston who is now here on her way home from [illegible]. Mr. Alexander our secretary will send you the minutes of our meeting. To state the matter briefly, Miss H. feels deeply the disappointment her return home will [illegible] to the church in Wilmington, to the friends of for. missions and to the Board, with many other unpleasant consequences, and would much prefer to remain in the missionary work in this country; she has asked our advice, as a mission, and yesterday in our mission meeting we passed a resolution, advising her to remain in Yoko. Until she could correspond with you and ascertain the opinion of the Board on the subject. As she is without funds, we agreed to furnish her with enough--$35 a month--to meet her necessary expenses. And
[p. 2]in the meantime she is to help Mr. Ballagh in his school where she may be very useful, not to say needed. She would like to be appointed as an assistant in his school.
As to the need of this, I would say, that as long as Mr. Knox and Mr. Winn agree to assist him, Miss H's assistance is not absolutely needed though even then she would be of much help and add to the efficiency of the school. If the school is removed to [Yedo?] it would be about the same. Our friends [illegible] Green, Imbrie and Alexander, would all be willing to lend a hand, and teach a certain portion daily and yet a lady teacher could take the drudgery of teaching the younger classes and thus give the preaching missionaries more time for their own peculiar duties. Mr. Ballagh would be very glad were she to be appointed.
From what I have said you may be able to understand the state of the case, I write at Miss H's request. I may say further about her that to the best of
[p. 3]my judgment she is sound in body and mind. She has gone through a terrible trial for a nervous woman, and I am not surprised that for a time she quite succumbed to it, but she is all right now. I proposed to her to return to [illegible], but to this she has an invincible repugnance. She would prefer to return home. She has a strong conviction that she could not endure that climate.
I quite sympathize with the Com. in its endeavors to keep us missionaries from overrunning the estimates, but it should be remembered that the estimates are based on the last year, give no margin or allow for expansion of our work. The estimates, as I understand them, merely give what is absolutely required at the time they are made out. The various items in your last letter upon which you ask explanations, Mr. Ballagh, treasurer, was commissioned to write to you about. Mr. Knox will explain his own matter, if you assume the insurance of all goods sent out for missionaries, and thus prevent them from having them
[p. 4]insured as a regular office, it seems to me you are liable for it. The Ginzer organ was paid for by money sent through my wife by Mr. Perkins--by a cheque from her, on the credit side of the Treas. Account you will no doubt see it entered, so the one offsets the other.
Since Mr. Loomis left the pastorate of the native church here, I have had the change of it, and not being an ordained clergyman & not very well, I asked Mr. Greene to baptize and administer the comm[union]. He has also done one half the p[?] when not absent from Yo[koham]a. Besides we wished to give him a place to [illegible] thus prevent any desire he might [have] to organize a congregational church [in] this region. The $50 was well paid as Mr. Knox is getting on well in the language and Mr. P. M. Green can come from Yedo, there will be no longer, I hope, any need to repeat this expenditure. The $60 to me, was part of the rent the mission agreed to pay me. [Illegible] pay me $25 a month. This, I think, is
[p. 5]agreed [illegible] after Mr. B. made out his last report. The payment took effect from the beginning of the year, deducting from it 7/12 of the amount, about $83 paid last Aug. (1877) for my ground rent. I can assure you I don't make one cent off the Board, for it is all paid out in repairs &c &c.
I am not anxious to see many women sent out as missionaries-- especially where their being sent consumes funds that might be used in sending men. The men are the proper instruments in this great work. It is through preaching the word, the nations are to be converted.
The women are used as teachers in schools mainly. They are dependent, and not so reliable--for they will get married when they have a chance. I think the time is not far off, when you will have trouble and have to stand up against an undue number of appointments of this kind. If the Miss. Soc. was rich & not hampered for funds I would not write thus, but hail with
[p. 6]pleasure every kind of civilizing influence and power sent out by the churches, but as long as the Board is so hampered send only those that are most useful. Excuse my frank utterance on this subject but it has laid heavy on my mind for some time & I must let out.
I am greatly obliged to you for your kind attentions to my niece[?]. She arrived safely, and is now well and improving in health.
My wife and I about hold our own, both a little ailing, perhaps not any more so than most old people.
I am still working at the S[unday] S[chool] and preaching every Sunday [illegible]. My medical work is about over, though patients still come daily to the house and I do not turn them away.
I am very truly yours,
J. C. Hepburn