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Manuscript Records of Traders, Travellers, Missionaries & Diplomats

Part 4: Manuscript Diaries and Papers from the China Records Project at Yale Divinity Library

In 1968, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA initiated a China Records Project. The aim of this project was to ensure the preservation of the personal records of former missionaries to China and provide a central repository where these papers would be available to historians. The Yale Divinity School Library was chosen in 1969 and has continued to solicit and accept China-related papers for the past two decades.

Parts 4 & 5 of our ongoing series China Through Western Eyes contains a variety of material kept at Yale Divinity School Library, covering many aspects of life in China, historical, political, cultural and religious.

Part 4 covers over fifty individual collections describing life in China from 1871 to 1951. Containing journals, manuscripts and documents detailing not only missionary activity in China but also day-to-day living in the country these papers provide a unique insight into many aspects of life in China. It is particularly strong in describing the relative successes of differing denominations undertaking missionary work in China in the nineteenth century, the role of medical work in establishing good working relations in China, the special problems faced by female missionaries, the Rape of Nanking (1937), life in China under Japanese rule, China under Chiang Kai-Shek and the relentless march of communism that drove most missionaries out of China between 1949 and the mid-fifties.

Some of the collections included are Albert Martin’s ‘The Story of Hope Hospital, 1871-1952’; Karl Beck’s ‘Memoirs of Hsiang-Si Mission’; Ernest and Clarissa Forster’s account of the Japanese occupation of Nanking, 1937-1938; Emma Martin’s diary during the siege of Peking, 1900; Martha Parker’s typescript history of the Church of the Brethren Missions in China; the diaries and records of Alvin Parker Pierson for the period from 1879 to 1924; and Mabel Smith’s notes on missionary work in Ningpo.

Part 5 focuses on a number of large collections, starting with the remarkable Campbell family, two generations of which were active as missionaries in China from 1880 to 1951. The main family members represented are George Campbell (c1860-1927), his wife Jennie (1863-1939) and their two daughters Louise (1883-1968), who was principal of the Kwong Yit Girls’ School in Kwantung Province and worked for forty years among the Hakka tribespeople, and Dorothy (1898-1972). Also covered are the records of Elsie Clark, a faculty member at Hua Nan College, Foochow, 1912-1918; Robert Bartlett’s accounts of Jimmy Yen and Chinese Revolutionaries; the cracking seventeen volume diary of Arthur Judson Brown (1856-1963) who surveyed Presbyterian missions in Asia following the Boxer Rebellion; and the diaries of William Beard, who served the YMCA in Fukien province, 1905-1910.


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