Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell Letters, 1918-1920

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, December 2011

Summary Information
Title: Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell letters
Creator: Coram family
Inclusive dates: 1918-1920
Extent: 31 items
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).
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2005. M-4439.3.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

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.

Preferred Citation:

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.

Subject Terms

    • Americans--China.
    • Bankers--China--Shanghai.
    • 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.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   35, Small Collections  
    Ezra Caryl and Grace Brownell letters [series]
    Folders   13-16  
     April 6, 1918-August 31, 1920
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    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.