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Manuscript Records of Traders, Travellers, Missionaries and Diplomats,

Part 1: Sources from the William R Perkins Library, Duke University


Papers of John Backhouse, chief clerk at Britain's new consulate in Canton, covering the period 1844-1855. Backhouse went to China in 1843 and after serving in Canton he became vice consul at Amoy (from 1847 through the mid 1850's). His letters give personal observations and descriptions of events.

This is a substantial archive, amounting to 4,473 items and 7 volumes. Most of it is not relevant to China. As such, we have filmed boxes 14-17 only, covering the period from January 1844 to September 1855.

Box 14
Jan 1844 - Dec 1844


Papers of John Backhouse (continued)

Box 15
1845 - 1846


Papers of John Backhouse (continued)

Box 16
1847 - Apr 1852


Papers of John Backhouse (continued)

Box 17
Sep 1852 - Sep 1855


Papers of James Julius Bandinel, merchant and consular official, and family covering the period 1763-1940, including descriptions of the Chinese-Japanese War of 1894-95, the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, and the Russian-Japanese War in 1904. Filmed in their entirety.

Folders 1-4 - Correspondence


Papers of James Julius Bandinel (continued)

Volumes 1-6 (Diaries of Thomas Le Mesurier, 1794; and commonplace books)


Papers of Sir John Bowring, British consul and diplomat in China, 1850-57, and commander-in-chief of Hong Kong in 1854. Sir John Bowring's letters provide useful insights into Anglo-Chinese relations in this period and cover topics such as commerce, emigration, the evasion of British customs, and the seizure of Shanghai by Chinese rebels in 1853. Filmed in their entirety. (Please note that the Perkins Library also holds the papers of Edgar Alfred Bowring, his son, but these have not been filmed).

The dispatches of Sir Frederick William Adolphus Bruce, British diplomat, for 1860. Bruce served as colonial secretary in Hong Kong from 1844 to 1864, was principal secretary of his brother's (Lord Elgin's) mission to China in 1857-58, was named envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the Emperor of China in 1858 and became chief superintendent of British trade in China in 1859. His draft and final dispatches to Lord Russell, British Foreign Secretary, are bound together in a single volume and cover the negotiations of the Treaty of Tianjian, Chinese government and political personalities, foreign relations between China, Britain and other European nations, the coolie trade, the Taiping Rebellion, missionaries, Chinese commerce, European military operations in China, shipwrecks and piracy. One volume. Filmed in its entirety.

Scrapbook of Arthur Johnson Danyell, British soldier, c1860-62. Danyell served with the British army in China (at some point he was a lieutenant in the 31st Regiment). He was with the allied invasion force at Peking in 1860 and was later garrisoned in the Taku forts near Tientsin. The Scrapbook contains observations on his experiences in China and detailed descriptions of the Taku forts and their surroundings. There is a 20-page account of his journey from Tientsin northward to the Great Wall, then to Peking and the coast; and a one page account of an 1862 expedition surveying the country around Shanghai.


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family. These are the letters of a remarkable American missionary family who were largely active in India and Ceylon, but whose papers provide many insights into Western attitudes to, and interactions with, Asian cultures. Yearly letters from a missionary friend in Foochow describe the turbulent events and political climate there between 1911-1931, including the Foochow Rebellion of 1911.

Samuel Bacon Fairbank, the first family member to travel to India, was born 14 Dec 1822 in Stamford, Connecticut. He was educated at Illinois College (BA, 1842; MA, 1845) and Andover Seminary. On 26 Mar 1846 he married Abbie Allen and travelled with her to India that same year, under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.). They had 4 children. They lived primarily in the Vadala District, carrying out missionary work among the rural Indians in local villages. His first wife died in 1852. On 11 July 1856 he married Mary Ballantine. They had 10 children. Samuel Fairbank remained in India for over 50 years of almost continuous service until his death on 31 May 1898. Many of his children followed him into missionary service.

Emily Maria Fairbank was born in Ahmednagar, India in 1846. She married Thomas Snell Smith in 1871 and spent many years working in the ABCFM mission in the Jaffna Ditrict of Ceylon.

Katie Fairbank (1859-1932) was also born in Ahmednagar. Educated at Mount Holyoke Seminary and Bradford Academy, she went to India in 1882 and married Dr Robert Hume of the Wai district in 1887.

Henry Fairbank (1862-1933) was born in Vadala, India. He was educated at Amherst College and Yale Divinity School, and returned to India in 1886, working in the Vadala district until 1898. From 1899 onwards he was made head of a large high school and industrial school in the Ahmednagar district. From 1916 until his death he was principal of the Union Theological Seminary in Ahmednagar. His second wife, Mary Etta Moulton ("Momo") helped him in his work and also features largely in the correspondence.

Edward Fairbank (1867-1963) was born in Kodaikanal, India. Educated at Amherst College and Andover Theological Seminary, he went to work in the Vadala district as a missionary. He married Mary Caskey in 1893 and their son, Robert Fairbank, continued their work in this area.

Rose Fairbank (1874-1955) was born in Ahmednagar and was educated at Smith College and Johns Hopkins University. After obtaining a degree in medicine she served as head of the Union Mission Hospital in India until 1905, when she married Dr Lester Beals. Together they built the Willis F Pierce Memorial Hospital in Wai, near Bombay, which they managed until their retirement in 1941.

Their papers provide a comprehensive view of the religious, educational, bureaucratic and financial aspects of mission work in an underdeveloped country. The majority of the correspondence deals with India, but a long sequence of letters from a missionary friend in China allows comparisons to be drawn between the two countries. There is much on education, health & medicine, agriculture & development, the political & economic climate, and local customs & habits. Other figures appearing in the collection include Mary Crocker Fairbank and Mary Darling Fairbank, who were also children of Samuel Fairbank who turned to missionary work.

The archive is substantial (3,600 items) and selection would be difficult. As such, we have filmed the first 11 boxes of the collection in their entirety, covering the period 1837-1945.

Box 1
Henry Fairbanks Diary, 1894-1902
Transcripts & lists of letters, 1871-1897
Correspondence, 1837 - 1883 (5 folders)


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family (continued)

Box 2, folders 1-6 - Box 3, folder 1
Correspondence, 1884 - c1906


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family (continued)

Box 3, folders 2-6 - Box 4, folders 1-2
Correspondence, c1907 - c1910


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family (continued)

Box 4, folders 3-5 - Box 5, folders 1-4
Correspondence, c1911 - c1914


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family (continued)

Box 5, folder 5 - Box 6, folders 1-5
Correspondence, c1914 - 1920


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family (continued)

Box 7, folders 1-6 - Box 8, folder 1
Correspondence, 1920 - c1922


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family (continued)

Box 8, folders 2-4 - Box 9, folders 1-3
Correspondence, c1923 - c1929


Correspondence, 1837-1945, of the Fairbank family (continued)

Box 9, folders 4-5 - Box 10, folders 1-6
Correspondence, c1929 - 1945


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