The new exhibit “Fletcher Brockman’s Missionary Life in Asia” is on display in the round atrium and by the entrance of the Reference Room of the Divinity Library.
Fletcher Sims Brockman was born in Virginia in 1867. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1891 and started his career with the YMCA as the first student secretary for the thirteen states from 1891 through 1897. After he realized that there were countless Chinese who had never read the Bible nor heard about the Gospel, he determined to devote his young productive life to mission work in China. In 1898 he brought his wife and two young sons to China and began his missionary journey. He served the YMCA in China from 1898 to 1915, first as foreign secretary in Nanjing and, from 1901, as the first general secretary of the Chinese YMCA, based in Shanghai. After returning to the United States in 1915, he served as associate general secretary both of the YMCA National War Work Council and of the International Committee.
Following his retirement from the YMCA in 1929, he lectured at Vanderbilt University. He also served on the Vanderbilt Board of Trust from 1919 to 1934. Before his death in 1944, Mr. Brockman and his wife, Mary Clark Brockman, started to donate to the School of Religion a collection of Oriental relics and works of art that they gathered during their years of working in the Far East. Besides the Divinity Library exhibit, a portion of the collection is displayed in Kirkland Hall, and the rest is housed in Special Collections and University Archives. The Divinity Library exhibit includes several precious artifacts, such as ancient Chinese coins, a bronze mirror, Japanese woodblock prints, and a Korean hand-woven horsehair handbag.
We invite you to visit the exhibit to learn about Mr. Brockman’s life in Asia and see the antique treasures he collected!