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Edwin M. McBrier papers, 1926, 1929-1930, 1955

1 linear foot

Executive with the F. W. Woolworth Co., member of the Executive committee of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Photoprints, 1926, of his trip to Europe to investigate the Methodist Church's foreign mission; include photoprints taken in France, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia; also brief reminiscences, 1955, and mimeographed travel letters, 1929-1930, of trip around the world.

The Edwin M. McBrier collection consists of photographs and travel journals of Edwin Merton McBrier, executive with the F.W. Woolworth Company. The 207 photographs were taken by Mr. McBrier during a European trip in 1926 on the behalf of the Methodist Church. McBrier was, at that time, the chairman of a commission to investigate the foreign missions work of the Methodist church. The purpose of this trip was to visit various missions in Europe. The photographs were taken in France, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria, Rumania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. The majority was shot in Germany and Eastern Europe. Many are of buildings and places which were not often visited or which have since been war damaged. Each photograph is dated and recorded in captions.

The McBrier photographs are interesting for several reasons. In addition to their historical value as records of architecture and scenes which have subsequently been damaged, they depict Europeans engaged in occupations and activities which no longer exist. Many are dressed in native costumes. The photographs are also interesting for their connection with the Methodist Church since McBrier photographed the churches and missions he visited. Finally, they are well-composed photographs with considerable artistic merit.

Two journals are included in this collection. Our Trip Abroad is the diary from a trip around the world taken by Mr. and Mrs. McBrier in 1929. Some Reminiscences of Edwin Merton McBrier includes recollections of friends, an early history of the F.W. Woolworth Company (McBrier retired in 1921 as Buyer of Merchandise) and an account of an incident which took place during the 1926 European trip. Some of McBrier's many honors for his missionary work are listed, including the order of the Jade. This honor was conferred on him by Chiang Kai Shek. Two large group photographs from the European trip are enclosed in this journal.


John G. Claybourn Papers, 1908-1966

5.5 linear feet (in 7 boxes) — 1 oversize folder

Civil engineer, consultant on marine development and dredging, and superintendent of the dredging division of the Panama canal. Topical files relating to the maintenance and development of the Panama Canal and dredging problems in Burma, Colombia, and other Latin American countries; scrapbook relating to the Spanish-American War; and photographs.

The collection documents the professional life of John G. Claybourn, superintendent of the Dredging Division of the Panama Canal from 1921 to 1948 and a consultant on matters of river and harbor improvement. In addition to the Panama Canal, the collection illustrates the role of the United States in infrastructure development in the Third World.

The papers include materials created and collected by Claybourn in his work on the Panama Canal, materials relating to personal business activities away from his primary work, materials relating to consulting jobs and to Claybourn's activities in professional engineering societies, and personal correspondence, much of it with some business connection.

The collection is not clearly divided by topic: papers relating to a particular topic may be divided among topical files, files arranged by correspondent or company, and the general personal correspondence file. Some of the topics of interest include the following:

Burma: The papers document Claybourn's consulting work in the early 1950s, on contract with the U.S. government, to rebuild commerce on the Irrawaddy River destroyed during World War II and to develop the Dalla Dockyards near Rangoon.

Claybourn, Elsie Greiser: A scrapbook documents her activities as a long-distance swimmer and canoeist. Her retirement years are described in detail in the personal correspondence file.

Claybourn, Leslie W.: Claybourn's correspondence with his brother, an inventor and printing industry executive, provides some documentation of the development of that industry.

Colombia: In the 1920s Claybourn was involved in the development of the Dique de Cartagena, a ship canal serving that city. The papers document his relations with the Colombian government.

Florida: Claybourn was a consultant in the early 1930s for a projected canal across Florida. The collection includes surveys and other papers relating to this project.

Panama Canal: The papers reflect both Claybourn's work on the Canal and his interest in the history of its construction. Most papers on this topic have been drawn together in processing, but many are found under the names of correspondents and in the general correspondence file. The topics documented in the greatest detail are maintenance of the canal, especially clearing of landslides, and planning for additional locks and later for a sea-level canal. Information about dredges used on the canal is also included. A collection of photographs, most of them from official sources, parallels these strengths.

The papers also document Claybourn's moonlighting on private dredging operations during the 1920s. This material is found under the names of companies and projects.

Retirement: Claybourn's retirement years were spent in Ann Arbor. The personal correspondence describes in great detail his and his wife's retirement activities.

Rumania: Correspondence with Bill Arthur includes a copy of Arthur's diary of events during a 1940 rebellion in that country.

World War II: In addition to the Rumanian material described above, the collection contains much relating to defensive activities on the Panama Canal. The Burma project described above includes information about war damage to transportation in that country.

Other consulting activities: Consulting projects in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela are documented less fully than those described above.