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It happened here. 100 years ago. May 23 rd , 2012. Clark University, Worcester, MA. The visit of ’ Abdu’l-Bahá to Clark University and Worcester. May 23, 1912. The sequence of events. As narrated in The Diary of Mírzá Ma h múd-i-Zarqání chronicling ’ Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America.

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It happened here

100 years ago

May 23rd, 2012. Clark University, Worcester, MA

may 23 1912
The visit of ’Abdu’l-Bahá to Clark University and Worcester

May 23, 1912

The sequence of events

As narrated in The Diary of MírzáMahmúd-i-Zarqáníchronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America

before the trip to worcester
Before the Trip to worcester

’Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the Bahá’í faith, Bahá’u’lláh, arrived in America on April 11, 1912 aboard the steamship S.S. Cedric

After spending a few weeks in NY giving a number of lectures, traveling to Chicago, and Boston, he visited Worcester, MA on May 23rd 1912

'Abdu'l-Baha's Signature on the S.S. Cedric Passenger List


Why did ’Abdu’l-Bahá come to Worcester?

He was invited by Prof. George H. Blakeslee, chair of the History Dept. at Clark University.

"George Hubbard Blakeslee taught history and international relations at Clark University from 1903 until his retirement in 1943. Dr. Blakeslee created and edited the first journal devoted to the study of international relations: the Journal of Race Development (it was later renamed the Journal of International Relations and in 1922 it merged with Foreign Affairs). He also founded at Clark University in 1909 a pioneering series of conferences about international relations."

(Archives and Special Collections at Clark University

Source: Archives and Special Collections, Goddard Library, Clark University

Prof. George H. Blakeslee was a pacifist and an orientalist. He was very likely aware of the tablet the Master presented at the First Universal Races Congress in London, July 1911.

When the Master was invited to speak at The Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration on May 14-16, 1912, Prof. Blakeslee should have known about this.

Open Library (

In the published proceedings of both conference, Blakeslee appears as a committee member or representative for Massachusetts, but not explicitly listed as attendee.

Source: Worcester LSA

May 14-16, ’Abdu’l-Bahá traveled from NYC to Lake Mohonk for the main meeting of the International Peace Society as the featured speaker.

Source: Wikipedia

According to Mahmúd’s diary“He praised the beauty of the place and the scenic grandeur of the route as His carriage drove for about an hour amidst green valleys, wooded hills, woodlands, waterfalls and natural springs."

Source: 'Abdu'l-Bahá in America (

Did ’Abdu’l-Bahá and Blakeslee connected at Lake Mohonk?

’Abdu’l-Bahá  visited Boston for the first time May 22-26, 1912

May 23rd 1912 started with a visit to the Greek Syrian Relief Society hosted at the Denison House (the third settlement house founded in the US). Here he spoke to ~900 people about poverty and detachment.

(R. H. Stockman. 2012. `Abdu'l-Bahá in America)

Source: Harvard University Open Collections Program


After lunch professor Blakeslee from Clark University “accompanied the Master to the town of Worcester, located about 50 miles from Boston.”

Snapshot of a video showing the Master in NYC (source: YouTube unlisted video)

“At one place, near the shore of a lake, the greenness of the landscape, the translucence of the water and the purity of the air so pleased Him that He instructed the driver to stop for awhile. The entire group stood and waited. No one dared say anything about the delay.”

During the trip to Worcester

“Passing through green and verdant plains and breathing the invigorating and pleasant air, ’Abdu’l-Bahá spoke sorrowfully in remembrance of the Blessed Beauty…, saying: ‘Would that the Blessed Beauty could have come to these regions! He loved such scenery very much’. Whenever He saw the green and fragrant countryside, He asked the driver to stop”.



Which is the Master’s lake?

Source: Wikipedia

To Boston

To Worcester

Jonas Clark Hall

President’s house

“In two hours we reached Worcester. The Master accepted the professor's invitation to rest for awhile in his home.”

The 1910 census reports 24 Richards St as the residence of George H. Blakeslee

House @ 24 Richards St.

Source: Worcester LSA

Richards Map Co. 1911. Richards Standard atlas of the City of Worcester.

“After tea ’Abdu’l-Bahá went to the meeting at the university, which had been arranged especially for His visit”

Source: Archives and Special Collections, Goddard Library, Clark University

Clark University as the Master saw it.

Jonas Clark Hall ~1910

’Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk happened ~ 4 PM and it was given in the gymnasium that was locate in the basement of Jonas Clark Hall. 

“More than one thousand students and faculty had assembled. Professor Hall thanked ’Abdu’l-Bahá for coming to the meeting.”

Original 1st floor plan of Jonas Clark Hall

Source: Archives and Special Collections, Goddard Library, Clark University

“After His address, some distinguished individuals and seekers were invited to a magnificent reception prepared for the Master. As the chancellor of the university had himself invited ’Abdu’l-Bahá, he himself served the Master.”

Source: Archives and Special Collections, Goddard Library, Clark University

The president's house, where the current library is located). 

The house was torn down in the 1960's to make space for the new Goddard Library.

Source: Wikipedia

The Master’s “Blessing” to Clark University

“When it was time to leave, the Master took both the president's hands in His and said:

‘I am very pleased with you and delighted to see your university. You are, indeed, serving the world of humanity and expending your life for mankind. Above all, I wish for you the blessings of the Kingdom and desire that you will be a cause of the spread of sciences and arts. I will pray on your behalf that God may make you a standard of guidance and that the love of God may shine upon your heart. I have seen a great love and affection in you, as well as in the professors and scholars. I shall never forget this meeting, and I shall always remember and mention your services.’”

“Later He returned to Boston in the automobile especially provided for Him by the chancellor. The Master went directly to the home of Mrs. Alice Breed. As that evening was the commemoration of the Declaration of the Báb as well as the birthday of ’Abdu’l-Bahá” the Bahá’ís, with the utmost happiness and joy, had arranged a magnificent feast.”

’Abdu’l-Bahá returning to his home on Haparsim Street in Haifa, Israel.

Source: Bahá’í Media Bank (

This presentation was derived from

The event on May 23rd 2012 was Sponsored by the Bahá’í community of Worcester, Clark University, and the Bahá’í Campus Association of Clark University

Special thanks to the following individuals from Clark University

Paul Ropp, Research Professor of Asian History

Jack Foley, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs

Fordyce Williams, Coordinator of Archives and Special Collections, Goddard Library