Series 093/24 - Correspondence received from family

Identity area

Reference code

AU AU-MTC 093/24


Correspondence received from family


  • 1945-1996 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Loose papers

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Mary Maria Andrews was born at Dry Plain Station (near Cooma, NSW) in 1915 to Albert and Ann Andrews. The family moved to Mittagong in 1925 then Sydney in 1927 for educational purposes following the separation of her parents. Mary was educated at Homebush Intermediate High School and later Hornsby Girls' High. She underwent training as a General Nurse at Gladesville Mental Hospital from 1933-1935, . studied at Sydney Missionary and Bible College from 1935-6 and was a resident at Deaconess house from 1937-8 at the recommendation of the Church Missionary Society of Australia (CMS), to which she had applied as a missionary to China in 1937.
Sailing to China in September 1938, she engaged in language learning at the College of Chinese Studies in Peiping (which was under Japanese occupation at the time) and later in Lin Hai, where she performed missionary work until she was forced to leave in late 1943 in fear of Japanese troops. She worked in Lahore, India, during 1944, and returned to Australia on furlough in 1946, during which time she was 'set apart' as a Deaconess. She returned to China in June 1947, working as a missionary in Shaohsing until she was forced to leave due to pressure from the Communist government in 1951.
Following her missionary career she continued to be heavily involved in CMS Candidates and General Committees and was a committed supporter of the South American Missionary Society (SAMS) and served on their Candidates and Pastoral Committee.
She began work as the Principal of Deaconess House in 1951, and was commissioned as Head Deaconess in the Diocese of Sydney in early 1952. As Principal, she oversaw a dramatic expansion of the institution in both physical size and occupancy. She held the position until her reluctant retirement in 1975. Many of the women who trained at Deaconess House continued to correspond with her, confide in her and shares the joys and trials of ministry with her until her life's end.
She then took on the role of part-time chaplain to three retirement villages - Goodwin Village, Woollahra (where she also resided); Elizabeth Lodge, Kings Cross, and St John's Village, Glebe. Not only did she conduct Bible studies and hold devotional meetings with the residents but she also encouraged them to give generously to missions, other Christian work and organisations for the aged. Additionally, she increased her involvement in a number of ecumenical and women's associations and was a fixture at these for the remainder of her life. Material found in her papers suggests that she supported the Healing Ministry at St Andrews Cathedral, Basilea Schlink of Darmstadt and that she attended the Billy Graham Crusade in 1979.
In 1980 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her Services to Religion.
Mary Andrews throughout her career and ministry was a strong proponent of greater inclusion of women into church life. She was actively involved in the events leading up to a number of milestones, including an increased prominence of the Deaconess order, the inclusion of women in the Anglican synod, and the ordination of women as Anglican Deacons. Late in her life she was fiercely in favour of the ordination of women as priests, and was a member of the Movement for the Ordination of Women (MOW).
She had a healthy interest in a wide range of Christian beliefs and recorded broadcast interviews of Chrisians from Roman Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, and various other Christian denominations from Australia and abroad.
Recreationally she enjoyed traditional hymns, English Cathedral music and when time permitted attended performing arts particularly 'classical' music. In fact she entered into correspondence occasionally regarding the programs of concerts and the choice of operas if she thought they were unsuitable. She also had a life-long interest in photography and left behind an exhaustive documentation of the work of Deaconess House, the organisations that she was involved with, her many overseas trips, significant occasions in the ministry of former students and friends and of women's ministry in general.
She died on the 16th of October 1996, a few weeks after the 50th anniversary of her 'setting apart' as a Deaconess.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

From Graham Andrews' collection of Mary Andrews papers and memorabilia, donated to the archive in November 2014.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This series contains letters and cards received by Mary Andrews from family members, principally after her return from missionary service in China and throughout the rest of her life. It does not include correspondence from her mother.
Mary Andrews was a diligent correspondent, and appears to have been in regular contact by mail with her extended family throughout her time as Principal of Deaconess House and during her retirement.
Frequently featured in this series are the following writers:
*Florence ("Florrie") McGoffick (nee Andrews), Mary's sister.
*Anne [later Lathrop, see note below] and Maryanne [married surname
unknown], daughters of Florence and Jim McGoffick
Elizabeth Clarkson (nee Andrews), Mary's sister (Married to Neal). Dorothea ("Dot") ?Glaston [spelling uncertain] [nee Andrews], Mary's sister Sam Andrews, Mary's brother Roslyn [later Tufrey, married to Brian] and Carol Andrews, daughters of Sam and Joyce Andrews Graham Andrews (married to Vickie), son of Sam Andrews and Joyce Andrews
Some identities are unclear:

  • Elizabeth Clarkson appears to have gone by the name of "Lil" or "Lilian" at one point but was inconsistent in her insistence on its usage (signatures alternate between the two names even when the letters in question were sent in close proximity to each other. One letter dated 26/5/1960 is signed "Elizabeth" with "Lil"scratched out next to it).
    -Anne McGoffick similarly seems to have on occasion spelt her name "Ann" (both she and her mother Florence use both spellings). From 1984 letters start arriving signed "Anni" Lathrop (married to Bill), and a 1996 letter from Florence seems to confirm that they are the same person.
    -There is one letter, dated 1956, is addressed to "Aunty" from "John", a child resident of Glen Miln (then Florence McGoffick's residence). It is unclear whether "John" was a blood relative or had some other connection to the family and referred to Mary as "Aunty" as a term of affection.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Chronological, with some approximations. Letters where the exact year of origin is unknown have been placed at the end of the relevant decade's item bundle.

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Conditions governing access

Access restricted due to privacy reasons. Available for access with the permission of relevant family members or their heirs.

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Physical storage

  • Shelf: C 12