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Harry and Ella Fife world trip collection

Identifier: C-94

Scope and Contents

Collection contains over 40 holograph letters, over 100 photographs and postcards, and many pieces of memorabilia, such as menus, booklets about ships, pamphlets and programs documenting the culture of the countries visited on the Fife's 1934 trip around the world. The letters in the collection are written by the Fifes to their ten year-old daughter Nona, in Middlebury, Vermont. The Fifes traveled first class on the presidential series of Dollar Line ships, and began their journey in New York City. From there, they sailed to Havana, through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles and San Francisco, then to Honolulu, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Ceylon, Bombay, through the Suez Canal to Alexandria, and onto Mediterranean Europe. The letters describe the other passengers in first class, social life and activities aboard the ship. They also describe encounters with people of the countries visited, and Americans abroad. The Fifes write about a brief encounter with Hollywood actor Joe E. Brown on board the ship. Also included is an eight-page handwritten essay by Harry Fife, "Impressions and Musings of a World Transient," in which he comments on the exploitation by the West of the Third World. Many photographs taken during the trip document the poor and working class. Several photographs also include handwritten captions.

Many letters and photographs appear in published form: Peck, Jim. "Harry & Ella Fife's Trip Around the World in 1934." 2010. Hardbound copy included is in Box two of collection. Peck's book contains transcripts of the Fifes' handwritten letters, along with biographical information about the Fifes. Peck is the grandson of Harry and Ella Fife.

The collection is divided into two series: Photographs and Correspondence.


  • 1934


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Harry Moore Fife (1891-1950) was born in Nova Scotia in 1891, and worked in lumber mills as a young man. He attended the Maritime Business College for a year, and became an accountant for the Canadian Car & Foundry Company, after which he studied and taught at the Mount Allison School for boys. He was sent as a missionary to northwestern Alberta, and joined the Canadian Tank Corps in 1916. After the War, he enrolled at McGill University, where he studied economics. Fife was offered a fellowship to continue his studies at Harvard, where he received a master's degree in economics in 1922, the same year he married Ella Sanford. Fife was a Fellow at the University of Chicago in 1923-1924, joined the faculty at McGill in 1924, and joined the faculty at Middlebury College in 1925. He describes his 1934 trip around the world as both a second honeymoon as well as a sabbatical from Middlebury.

Ella Sanford Fife (1893-1949) was born in Nova Scotia. She attended Maritime Business College in Halifax, and became a court stenographer and secretary to a local judge after graduating. She was a volunteer in the recovery services of the city of Halifax in the aftermath of the accidental explosion in 1917. She married Harry M. Fife in 1922.

In "Harry & Ella Fife's Trip Around the World in 1934," Jim Peck writes that the Fife's trip aboard a ship in the Dollar Steamship Line, beginning January 18,1934 and ending August 13, 1934, lasted 208 days. Harry and Ella Fife had three children, Nona (mother of Jim Peck), Harry Jr., and James Arthur. The couple also had one adopted daughter, Doris.


1 Box (1 box, 23 folders)


Collection is divided into two series: Photographs and Correspondence. Both series are arranged chronologically.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States