Edna Gertrude Beasley

Edna Gertrude Beasley

Cross Plains, Callahan County, Texas, USA
Death 27 Jul 1955 (aged 63)
Central Islip, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Burial Central Islip, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Plot Location 4164
Memorial ID 28340476 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Physically Edna was 5'4 in height with short dark brown hair and blue eyes and a fair complexion.

She was the daughter of William Isaac Beasley and Lucy Jane Ficklin. Her parents moved quite often around West Texas and sometimes she is said to have been born in Coleman County but gave Cross Plains as the nearest town which is on the border between Callahan and Coleman Counties.

After college graduation she taught school in West Texas, Chicago and Bellingham, Washington, while writing educational articles on the organization of elementary schools.

On June 23, 1920 she sailed to Japan on The Empress of China, before settling down to secretarial work at Peking Union Medical College she wrote for the "Far East" newspaper in Tokyo.

P.U.M.C is still one of the foremost medical schools in China today. Edna went there shortly after the Rockefeller Foundation had taken over from the Presbyterian Church and reorganized the school. She lived in the north compound according to the Peking Women's Club Directory and was there the following year when John D. Rockefeller, himself, came for dedication ceremonies with his wife. This was still a dangerous area as warlords fought each other in turf battles.

In June, 1922, Gilbert Grosvenor of the National Geographic Society sent her a one hundred dollar honorarium for her article "Something About Work in Japan" and 48 photos she had taken. At the same time he forwarded four other articles to Asia Magazine with some 100 more photos for their consideration. She had written about a trip through Korea, street life in Peking, Lake Chuzemji, and the Yalu River at the port of Antung. He was also interested in her plans for visiting Russia. But he warned her that the amateur snaphots she took needed to be enlarged for printing purposes.

She ran into difficulty on entering the Soviet Union at Kovno, Lithuania in 1922, due to the political unrest in Russia. The US government was discouraging travel there by women and children. She stayed in Russia only long enough to do research on birth control, etc then go to London for more graduate studies.

In Moscow she met old Univ of Chicago classmate Elizabeth Bredin who was with the Russian Unit of the American Relief Administration. They would share tea and go skiing together.

However, due to her controversial views her 1925 autobiography was mostly seized and destroyed by British censors. She had written articles about birth control in Russia for the Birth Control Review. Even the support of Bertrand Russell whom she first met in China was not enough to keep the police from ransacking her room for her writings and citing her to Bow Street Court for writing about what was considered obscene in those days.

She became increasingly distraught and destitute complaining she had not been paid for her work. She found herself committed to Holborn Hospital for treatment and observation. The American Consulate intervened and she was released to return to the United States.

Edna sailed to New York on the SS Republic. One fellow passenger was Nancy Lee Swann. Swann had lived in China for many years and was a fellow Texan from Tyler. She also became a famous Chinese scholar curator at Princeton University and author on Chinese history and culture. Her book, Panchow, is still in print.

After Edna wrote to the US State Department threatening the British government with a lawsuit, she was taken to Central Islip State Hospital from the ship and never allowed to leave. She died there in 1955 of pancreatic cancer.

The cemetery at what was essentially a gulag is fenced in with numbered concrete bricks on the ground as grave markers. There is a lone shaft in the center of a square patch of land as a monument that this is a cemetery. Visitors report they have been ticketed by the police for trying to visit it. Perhaps this is because a new federal courthouse has been built across the street.

In recent years her censored work has been reprinted in a limited edition and at least three live one woman plays have been staged. The latest by Veronica Russell.

  • Created by: Ash Montagu
  • Added: 17 Jul 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 28340476
  • Veronica Russell
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edna Gertrude Beasley (20 Jun 1892–27 Jul 1955), Find A Grave Memorial no. 28340476, citing Central Islip State Hospital Grounds, Central Islip, Suffolk County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Ash Montagu (contributor 46804013) .