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Benjamin E. Neal Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

The adult education holdings are collectively known as the
Alexander N. Charters Library of Resources for Educators of Adults.

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Neal, Benjamin E.
Title: Benjamin E. Neal Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1901-1999
Bulk Dates: 1901-1904
Quantity: 5 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American who taught English in the Philippines from 1901-1904. Correspondence, diaries, account books, photographs, postcards, and memorabilia related to Neal's work in the Philippines.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Benjamin E. Neal (1879-1966) was a native of Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1901 and joined the Thomasites, a group of five hundred American teachers sent to the Philippines by the U.S. government in August 1901 to establish a new public school system there. The group was known as "Thomasites" after the ship that brought them to Manila, the USS Thomas. Neal taught English in the Philippines from 1901-1904. He was a Syracuse University alumni trustee from 1923 to 1934.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Benjamin E. Neal Papers consists of correspondence, diaries, memorabilia, photographs, printed material, and writings, most of which pertain to Neal's work with the so-called Thomasites, teaching English in the Philippines.

Correspondence is both personal and professional, including letters and postcards to friends and family, official documents relating to Neal's teaching work, and so on. Numerous letters of recommendation testify to Neal's scholarship, integrity, and abilities.

Diaries cover the entirety of Neal's time in the Philippines, and include observations on his students and colleagues as well as on Filipino culture and community.

Memorabilia contains items relating to Neal's travels to and from the Philippines, including scrapbooks, posters, and souvenir booklets, as well as one item relating to Syracuse University, Neal's alma mater.

A large number of Photographs, including many hand-tinted albumen prints, document Neal's interest in the people he met and the places where he taught and visited. These include China, Japan, the Philippines, and major cities of Europe (London, Rome, Paris, etc.). There are also a few family photos, including Neal's grandparents, two men in front of a shopfront "Neal, Clarke & Neal," and one identified on the back as "The Neal Homestead built in 1850."

Printed material contains books and clippings. Three of the books are directly related to the so-called Thomasites (among these are a souvenir booklet, "The Log of the Thomas", with text and photos of the voyage). The fourth concerns American efforts in the Philippines and mentions Neal.

Writings contains a single document, an essay on "Memory" written by Neal for a college course.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically, the remainder of the material alphabetically by type or title.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Neal, Benjamin E.


English language -- Study and teaching -- Philippines.


Europe -- Description and travel.
Philippines -- Civilization -- American influences.
Philippines -- Description and travel.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Benjamin E. Neal Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Jean Burmaster Palmer, Elton and Mary Elizabeth (Neal) Burmaster, and Mrs. Benjamin Neal, 1967, 1969, 2016.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: DMB
Date: 14 Dec 1978
Revision history: 3 Feb 2009 - converted to EAD (MRC); 16 May 2014 - bio updated (MRC); 3 Aug 2017 - additions (MRC)

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Box 1 General 1901-1904
Box 1 Postcards Apr 1904 - Jul 1905 - first folder includes an itemized list, provided by donor (5 folders)
Box 1 Recommendations 1901-1904 - letters of recommendation for Neal from a variety of people, including former teachers and colleagues
Box 1 Diaries 1901-1904 - some include laid-in correspondence, notes, other papers (4 volumes)
Box 2 Diaries, transcribed 1901-1904 - photocopy of typed transcript of diaries, appears to be complete
Oversize 1 Bamboo tubes (2 items)
Map-Case Calendar
Map-Case Military posters
Oversize 2 Scrapbook of picture postcards
Box 2 Syracuse University 1901
Box 2 Travels 1901-1904 - Philippines, Japan, Germany; includes an issue of "The Briny Budget," a newsletter published on board the Thomas
Box 2 China
Box 2 Family
Box 2 Hawaii
Box 2 Japan (2 folders)
Box 2 Philippines (I)
Box 3 Philippines (II, III, and IV)
Oversize 1 Philippines (V)
Box 4 Return trip from Philippines 1904 - London, Paris, Rome, etc.
Box 4 Syracuse University
Box 4 Unidentified 1904-1905
Box 4 Unidentified undated
Printed material
Box 4 Compulsory education in the Philippines / Antonio Isidro, Juan Canave, Priscila Manalang, Matilde Valdes 1953 - signed and inscribed by Valdes to Neal
Box 4 The log of the Thomas 1901 - souvenir booklet, including text, photographs, and lists of passengers and crew (2 copies)
Box 4 In our image: America's empire in the Philippines / Stanley Karnow 1999 - Neal is mentioned on page 204
Box 4 Tales of the American teachers in the Philippines / Geronima Pecson, Maria Racelis (ed.s) - includes essay by Frank Laubach
Box 4 Clippings 1951 - front page of Manila newspaper with letter from one of the American teachers; newspaper photograph of Neal at his 50th college reunion
Box 4 Essay on memory - handwritten, apparently for a college course on pedagogy

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