William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Finding aid created by
Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell Letters, 1918-1920
Meg Hixon, December 2011
Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell letters
This collection contains 31 letters written by Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell from China, where Ezra worked for the Asia Banking Corporation. The couple wrote their family and friends in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York, about their journey to China in the fall of 1918 and subsequent life in Shanghai and Tientsin (Tianjin).
The material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell Letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The collection is arranged chronologically.
Ezra Caryl Brownell was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 21, 1889, and married Grace Donald (b. 1893) before 1918. In 1918, he and Grace moved to Shanghai, China, where he worked as an assistant treasurer for the newly formed Asia Banking Corporation; he was later promoted to manager of the Tientsin Branch. The couple returned to the United States by 1930 and settled in Oradell, New Jersey.
Collection Scope and Content Note
This collection contains 31 letters written by Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell from Shanghai, China, where Ezra worked for the Asia Banking Corporation. Many of the letters are addressed to Frederick Coram of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, and his family, whom Ezra often referred to as "Mother and 'Dad' and the Girls." He also frequently wrote to his sister (or stepsister), Bertha Coram, and Grace wrote to their friends, Louis and Mabel Nebauer of Brooklyn, New York. A few early items detail the couple's trip to China via Honolulu, Hawaii, and Yokohama, Japan, including a letter Grace wrote on September 23, 1918, while onboard the Manila-bound SS Nanking . The couple's correspondence primarily concerns their daily life in Shanghai and, later, Tientsin (Tianjin), including reports on the warm weather and on the local cuisine. Ezra, who wrote more often than Grace, occasionally mentioned censorship of trans-Pacific letters, as well as his work with the Asia Banking Company. His work led to a move to Tientsin in the spring of 1919. Though the couple focused on describing their foreign surroundings, they sometimes referred to news events, such as the end of the First World War (January 27, 1919) and a railroad strike (October 26, 1919). Many of the letters are enclosed in envelopes with Chinese stamps.
- Banks and Banking, American--China.
- Ocean travel.
- Shanghai (China)--Description and travel.
- Tianjin (China)--Description and travel.
- Yokohama-shi (Japan)--Description and travel.
- Brownell, Ezra Caryl, b. 1889.
- Brownell, Grace.
Additional Descriptive Data
The Rubenstein Library at Duke University has a collection of Grace Donald and Ezra Caryl Brownell papers.
International Banking Directory 1920. New York: The Bankers Publishing Co., 1920.