Robert and Brereton Catton left their native Scotland and arrived in Hawaii in 1878. They had six children: Margaret Mary Louise (known as "Mary"), Janet Renny (known as "Renny"), John Herbert, Robert Redford, Andrew Allen, and Richard Belmont. Mary, who is the chief figure in this collection, was born February 9, 1882, in Huelo, Maui. She was educated at Punahou School as well as other private schools in Hawaii and Scotland. In 1917, she entered the New York School of Social Work, where she majored in hospital social service. She graduated in 1919 and returned to Hawaii. In 1932, Mary became the director of the Medical Social Service Association, the new social service program she helped found at Queen's Hospital in Honolulu. Mary also helped start several other groups and organizations including the Hawaii Medical Service Association, the first voluntary prepaid plan for medical care in the United States; the Bureau of Mental Hygiene at Queen's Hospital; and the convalescent nursing home at Maunalani Heights. Mary retired as director of social service at Queen's Hospital in 1948, and in 1959, she published a semi-autobiographical book entitled Social Service in Hawaii. She stayed active in the Honolulu community until her death in 1971 at the age of 89.
Scope and Content
The collection comprises 66 items including 23 travel letters, 15 diaries, 4 scrapbooks, 22 photographs and 2 pieces of miscellaneous ephemera. The travel letters cover two trips taken by Mary Catton: 1. Trip to Japan, China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Egypt, Israel, Switzerland, Italy, France, England, Scotland and the United States in 1931-1932; 2. Trip to Canada, the United States, Panama, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji in 1938-1939. Her travel letters, which are written like diaries but addressed and sent to family members back in Hawaii, contain detailed descriptions of each place she visited. They are illustrated with photographs and postcards, many with handwritten captions (the travel letters contain over 1,000 photographs). While Catton visited the typical tourist sites at each city, because she was a social worker, much of the content of her travel letters is dedicated to comments and discussions regarding the lesser-seen parts of the cities, their hospitals, conditions of the poor, the homeless, the available social work services, government and politics, and education and schools. She often met with doctors and social workers and talked to them about their experiences; Catton was also often a guest of honor at events where she was asked to give talks about her work in Hawaii. While in Thailand she met with Princess Sangwan Mahidol and her three young children including the future kings Ananda Mahidol and Bhumibol Adulyadej. There are letters by Princess Mahidol and several photographs of the family in Volume 6. While in New York she visited her alma mater, the New York School of Social Work. The cities in which she spent the most time and about which she wrote the most are: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima-shi (Japan); Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong (China); Saigon (Vietnam); Angkor, Bangkok (Thailand); Calcutta, New Delhi, Bombay (India); Cairo (Egypt); Milan, Rome, Venice (Italy); Geneva, Saint Moritz (Switzerland); Paris (France); London, Stratford-upon-Avon (England); Edinburgh, Inverness, Melrose (Scotland); New York, Baltimore (U.S.); Auckland, Wellington (New Zealand); Melbourne, Sydney (Australia). The 15 diaries, all of which belong to Mary Catton, span the years 1939 to 1951. The diaries describe in great detail all aspects of Mary's life in Honolulu including: her daily activities; her work at Queen's Hospital, her difficulties with the doctors and hospital administration, her work with nurses, patient care, hospital costs; teaching social work; Mary's work with the many groups of which she was a member including several medical and social work associations; the attack on Pearl Harbor and aftermath including blackouts and the fear of another attack; World War II events; treatment and views of Japanese living in Hawaii; Mary's work in starting a convalescent home in Hawaii; various other medical issues such as adoption, sterilization, staffing, and fundraising. More specifically, Mary discusses her work with the following associations and organizations: Hospital Social Service Association (later the Medical Social Service Association), Bureau of Mental Hygiene, Hawaii Medical Service Association, the Hawaiian Chapter of the American Association of Social Workers, the Hawaiian Department of Public Welfare. Two of the four scrapbooks belong to Mary Catton and two belong to her sister Renny Catton. The four scrapbooks include photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, invitations, calling cards, programs for shows and events, telegrams, tickets, notes, dance cards, post cards, and greeting cards (birthday, Christmas, etc.). The photographs are of Catton family members.