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Manuscript Records of Traders, Travellers, Missionaries & Diplomats, 1792-1942

Part 3: The Papers of J A Thomas, c.1905-1923, from the William R Perkins Library, Duke University

This project offers the diaries, journals, letters, photographs and scrapbooks of a host of businessmen, tourists, scholars, missionaries, doctors, journalists and diplomats from the first British mission to China in 1792-1794 through to the mid 20th century.   All are in English and they are an ideal group of sources for student project work.

Part 3 of is devoted to the Papers of James Augustus Thomas (1862-1940), tobacco entrepreneur, philanthropist and Sinologist. Thomas was a director of several leading tobacco firms, and between 1888 and 1922 he pioneered the introduction of American cigarettes into Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, India, Japan, China and other Asian countries.  Thomas spent a significant part of his life in China. Initially his interest in China was mainly commercial. However, he soon became involved in a number of projects:

  • He organised the Chinese-American Bank of Commerce.
  • He was involved in the partnership between Standard Oil and the Chinese government.
  • He founded two schools for Chinese students.
  • He played an active role in the Chinese Red Cross.
  • He helped run China Child Welfare Inc and China Famine Relief USA Inc.
  • He was Director of the China Society of America; and an Executive Committee Member of the American Asiatic Society.


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