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Kate and Sue McBeth, Missionary Teachers to the Nez Perce

Kate McBeth's Papers

Letters     Journal      Diary

Few of Kate McBeth's letter survive.  She did not write to church authorities as frequently (or as lengthily) as her older sister.  Many of the microfilmed letters are illegible.  Kate's free-flowing writing style often neglects grammatical niceties. Reading and understanding her writing style is laborious, but rewarding.   She is, as Sue McBeth remarked to Dr. John Lowrie, "a very pleasant letter writer, and her letters have perhaps done good...."

Kate McBeth's journal served multiple purposes.  It records church related expenses, presbytery financial reports, and contains the rough draft for her book The Nez Perce Since Lewis and Clark. The journal spans early 1891 to 1905 - 1906.  Although the later dates fall beyond the time limits of 1873 -1893 emphasized on this website, the material contributes significantly to the collection. All original text is maintained editorially subdivided by topic.  The Nez Perce legends section contains legends told to Kate by Rev. Mark Arthur, her student.  The illustrations are drawn by Keith TwoHatchet, a great-great-grandson of  Rev. Arthur.

The diary was kept generally by Sabbath date, i.e., 1st Sabbath in October (abbreviated 1 Sab.)  The original spelling and punctuation has been retained.  Editorial notes are enclosed in brackets [ ].
Kate's diary reveals her frustrations and achievements. A sizable component of sibling rivalry cannot be discounted when analyzing her impressions of people and events.   The distinctly different personalities of the sisters are sharply drawn.   Frequently, Kate disagreed with her older sister on school management issues.   Certainly, Kate sought to expand her teaching role from domestic science to theology.  This ambition placed her in direct competition with Sue's work and interests.  During the times of closest contact between the sisters (1879 - 1885), Kate wrote regularly.  Between 1885 - 1893, entries taper dramatically.  In the last entry, April 23, 1893 (approximately a month before Sue's death), Kate notes she has "cut out" and destroyed sections of the diary "that ...however true...ought never to have been written."
The diary is available for scholarly use in the Special Collections department of the University of Idaho Library.