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Middlebury College 1919

Miss Ruth G. Holland

1892 - 1921

The First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury was represented on the foreign mission field by Miss Ruth Gertrude Holland, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Holland, her father a member of the church. Ruth was commissioned on September 7, 1919, a missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, under the support of the Women’s Board of Missions. 

Miss Ruth Holland was born in Worcester on May 30, 1892. She moved with her family shortly after to Shrewsbury where she attended the public schools. She joined the First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury in 1907 and was a most faithful and devoted member. 

In the Christian Endeavor Society, she was a leader in the spiritual interests and activities of the society. Intending to start college on time, her mother fell ill, which made it impossible for Ruth to leave for several years. She eventually entered Middlebury College and graduated with the class of 1919. Herself a student volunteer, she organized the Student Volunteer Band, and in her senior year was president of the Young Women’s Christian Association. In spite of limited time for study, because of part-time work to assist in defraying her college expenses, she graduated with the rank of magna cum laude.

After being appointed a missionary, the church and its organizations assisted in preparing her with many useful gifts for her work. She sailed for her station at the Ceylon Mission on September 27, where she was to establish a course in Domestic Science in the Girls’ School at Uduvil. She served at the mission for over a year and had just finished her study of the Tamil language and was ready to begin her teaching when she was stricken with typhoid fever and died on January 11, 1921.

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Uduvil Girls' School in Ceylon

Writing on the bereavement felt by the members of the Ceylon Mission, Miss Bookwalter, a teacher at Uduvil said, “The loss of Ruth Holland after less than two years in the field has indeed been a great sorrow. The girls of the school have been deeply touched and we feel there has been a spiritual awakening. We appealed to the girls to make out a pledge card. The card reads: the Ruth Holland Volunteer Band was organized through the inspiration of the life of Miss Ruth Holland, who came to Ceylon as a missionary in November 1919. In January 1921, she laid down her life as a sacrifice for the girls of Jaffna. May the spirit of Ruth Holland continue to lead these girls.” (1)

A memorial service in Ruth's honor was held at the First Congregational Church on Easter Sunday 1921. It was introduced by the pageant ‘The Vision.’ A Ruth Holland Memorial service flag was presented to the church by the Women’s Missionary Society, a gold star upon it indicating her life laid down in her chosen service for Christ. In honor of Ruth’s generosity and kindness, the members of the Young Women’s Christian Association at Middlebury College founded the Ruth Holland Memorial Scholarship.

Miss G. Marion Holland

1893 – 1980

Ruth’s sister, Miss Grace Marion Holland, a graduate of the Newton Hospital had the training and disposition to be a valuable asset on the missionary field. Grace was commissioned a missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in November 1923.

 

She sailed soon after to take up her work as superintendent of the nurses at the American Hospital for Women and Children in Ahmednagar, India. 

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American Hospital for Women and Children

The dispensary was opened in 1895, the hospital in 1904 with a capacity of 60 beds. The maintenance for a single bed was $83 a year. Buildings on the property included a large, two-story hospital building made of stone, one small isolation building, a residence for American doctors and nurses, and one storehouse. Electric lighting had recently been installed. 

(1) The Missionary Herald, Thomas Todd Company, Boston, Mass

(2) 110 Annual Report,  American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Congregational House, Boston

The staff included Dr. Ruth Hume and Harriet Clark, MD., one Indian doctor and 12 nurses. Miss Grace Marion Holland joined the staff in 1924. Friends in America made it possible for the hospital to have its own dairy, and therefore plenty of milk. The gift of a Ford vehicle was an additional aid. Girls of better education were now entering the class for nurses. (2)

Grace eventually returned to Worcester, Massachusetts. She lived until 1980, dying on March 12 at age 86. On the Holland family gravestone Ruth is remembered... Age 29 – Buried in Douvil Ceylon.

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American Hospital in Ahmednagar, India