This collection contains photographs taken and compiled into an album by the twentieth-century missionaries Clara Elise Linn and Roy Creighton.
Clara Elise Linn was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1892. As a child and young woman she was active in her family’s church, particularly in the missionary society the Christian Endeavor and the Student Volunteer Movement. After high school, Clara took business and secretary courses, working as a secretary first for Houghton Mifflin and then for the Ludlow Manufacturing Company in Boston. Though she easily gained employment with the help of an older sister who was secretary to the president of Ludlow Manufacturing, Clara remained active in church and missionary groups, hoping to become a missionary herself.
In 1913, Clara met Roy Creighton through their mutual activity in the Christian Endeavor programs. Roy Creighton was born in 1889 in Arizona; at the time that he met Clara, he was studying architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. At the beginning of 1916, Roy left the architecture school to join the YMCA, where he was stationed in China. In the same year, Clara Linn entered the school of pedagogy at the Hartford Theological Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. It was here that Clara met and became friends with Ruth Hahn, a missionary nurse who had worked in China and was on furlough in Connecticut. In 1916, Hahn accompanied Clara on the lengthy trip to China to join her fiance Roy. The two married in 1916 in Kuling, China.
The Creightons served as missionaries for the first half of the twentieth century. Though Roy began as a YMCA secretary, his experience in architecture soon led him to become a “missionary architect:” he trained and supervised local craftsmen in Western construction methods in order to erect YMCA buildings, missions, and school. The Creightons lived and worked primarily in China from 1915 to 1949. However, after a lengthy furlough in the United States throughout the 1920s, the Creightons were stationed in Beirut, Lebanon from 1928. The family lived and worked in Lebanon for a total of two years.. In Beirut, Roy worked to help construct new buildings at the American University of Beirut.
The Creightons had three surviving children: Linn, Roger, and Phyllis. A second daughter, Marjory, was born in 1921 and died in infancy in 1922. The Creighton children were raised abroad with their parents; the images in this collection depict them in their young childhoods, often posed at the various historical and cultural sites that the family visited during vacations from their work.
This album, and other materials that are primarily textiles, were donated by their daughter, Phyllis Creighton Danby, to the Gregg Museum of Art & Design in 2012. Phyllis Danby grew up in China; she was married to Dr. “Tony” Danby, professor at North Carolina State University.
Scope and Content
This collection contains an album of personal photographs documenting the lives of an early-twentieth century American missionary family serving in Lebanon shortly after its establishment as an independent country. In addition to documenting the family life of Clara and Roy Creighton and their three young children, these images depict the landscape and culture of Lebanon during a time of transition for the young country. Of particular interest to researchers may be the series of images depicting Creighton working with Lebanese builders to construct the American University of Beirut.
- Family Collections
- Creighton Collection