Biographical Note: Elizabeth Josephine Hirschboeck was
born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Stephen and Katherine Hirschboeck on March 10,
1903. She attended Marquette University and received a bachelors of science in 1927
and a doctoral degree in 1928 from the Medical School. Following graduation, she
joined the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic as the first medical doctor to enter
the foreign missionary group. She was thereafter known as Sister Mary Mercy. She
worked in North Korea as a medical missionary from 1931 to 1940, when she returned
to Maryknoll, New York due to her declining health. Three years later, Sr. M. Mercy
left for Riberalta, Bolivia where she stayed for seven years. In 1951, at the
height of the Korean War, she requested permission to travel to South Korea to help
with the influx of refugees from the North. The United Nations approved her request,
and she established a medical relief clinic in Pusan that aided thousands of people
daily. This mission, described in her biography Her Name Is Mercy, was
widely publicized as the longest charity line in the world. In 1954,
Sister Mary Mercy left South Korea for the United States to become administrator of
the Maryknoll Sisters Queen of the World Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri,
the first fully integrated general hospital in the city. Elected Vicaress General
of Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in 1958, a position she held until 1970, Sr. M.
Mercy returned to the groups headquarters in Maryknoll, New York. In 1973,
she moved to the lower east side of New York City to establish a mission to the
poor of the city. She remained there until her death on September 20, 1986.
Scope and Content: The collection contains Sr. Mary Mercy Hirschboeck's outgoing correspondence to her family, Herbert and Myrtle Hirschboeck (her brother and sister-in-law), and John and Rosemary Hirschboeck (a second brother and sister-in-law). The correspondence documents Sr. M. Mercy's daily life, offering insights into early twentieth century-missionary and medical practices. Incoming and third-party correspondence relates to business transactions and donations. The collection includes numerous family photographs, ca. 1896-1928, and photographs of Sr. M. Mercy at her missions in Bolivia and Korea, and in Maryknoll, New York. Miscellaneous material consists of biographical information; a presentation copy of Her Name Is Mercy signed by the author; newsclippings; obituary notices; letters of condolence to Herbert Hirschboeck; and other records.
Arrangement: The collection is arranged into three series: correspondence, miscellaneous materials, and photographs.
Correspondence is organized as outgoing and incoming/third-party. Outgoing correspondence is further arranged by addressee: the Hirschboeck family, Herbert and Myrtle Hirschboeck (Sr. M. Mercy's brother and sister-in-law), and John and Rosemary Hirschboeck (her other brother and sister-in-law). Within each set of outgoing correspondence, letters are arranged chronologically. Incoming and third-party correspondence consists of letters regarding business and finance transactions. It is also arranged chronologically.
Miscellaneous materials are arranged alphabetically by record type. Photographs are arranged chronologically.
Related Materials: The University Archives' biographical information files contains files relating to Herbert C. Hirschboeck (1898-1989), who received a degree from Marquettes Law School, and John S. Hirschboeck (1910-1994), who received a medical degree from Marquette in 1941 and served as dean of the Medical School from 1947 to 1965. His biographical file includes an extensive collection of Hirschboeck family records dating from 1833.