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Carleton Mission / Carleton-in-China Collection



Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Administrative Records of the Carleton Mission and Carleton-in-China

Contemporaneous Publications and Printed Matter

Personal Papers


Films and Other Recordings

Oral History Interviews

Historical Writings

Objects and Oversized Items

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Carleton Mission / Carleton-in-China Collection | Carleton College Archives

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Collection Overview

Title: Carleton Mission / Carleton-in-China CollectionAdd to your list.View associated digital content.

ID: 04/035

Extent: 23.0 Boxes

Arrangement: The Carleton-in-China Collection has been organized into eight sections: Administrative Records of the Carleton Mission and Carleton-in-China, Contemporaneous Publications and Printed Matter, Personal Papers, Photographs, Films and Other Recordings, Objects and Oversized Items, Memoirs and Oral Histories, and Historical Writings.  Some sections are further sub-divided as shown on the Container List.


This is a topical collection bringing together material of varied provenance documenting the history of Carleton College’s association with evangelical, medical, and educational work in China from the founding of the Carleton Mission Board in 1903 until the dissolution of Carleton-in-China in 1950. Most of the material concerns Carleton’s connections with the American Board’s Fenchow station, with the focus moving increasingly over time to Carleton’s support of the mission’s educational enterprises, most particularly that of the Ming I Middle School.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

At the core of the collection are the administrative records of the Carleton Mission Board, also known successively as the Carleton-in-China Board and the Carleton-in-China Committee. Complementing these records are the donated papers, photographs, and memorabilia of a number of individuals associated with the Fenchow mission either as permanent staff or as appointed Carleton-in-China student representatives serving as teachers. In addition, the collection includes a body of material gathered by the Carleton Archives to further illustrate this history, including oral history interviews and copies of publications, news clippings, and student papers on relevant topics.

Collection Historical Note

The Carleton Mission was organized in 1903, due largely to the efforts of recently-graduated alumni Watts O. Pye ‘03 and Percy T. Watson ‘03, to support missionary work in China under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Within a few years the locus of that support became the American Board's Fenchow [Fenzhou; later Fenyang] station, in Shansi [Shanxi] province. This was originally an Oberlin College-supported station which Carleton was subsequently permitted first to share responsibility for, and eventually to adopt entirely while Oberlin focused on its sister station in nearby Taiku [Taigu]. In 1907, Pye arrived in Fenchow to take up the evangelistic work interrupted at that station in 1900 by the Boxer rebellion. Two years later, Pye was joined at Fenchow by three missionaries with Carleton ties: classmates Percy and Clara (French) Watson, and Miss Gertrude Chaney, who a few years later married Mr. Pye. Mission staff continued to expand, but these four were at the heart of the Fenchow station until Watts Pye's untimely death in 1926.

The Fenchow mission complex grew after 1909 to include a church, schools, and a hospital. Dr. Watson's hospital, as the only such health agency at work in China's great northwest, was long the sole provider of hospital services to a population over one-twentieth that of the United States. Its staff eventually included two other doctors who were Carleton graduates, Clara A. Nutting '14 and Jean A. Curran '16. Dr. Watson distinguished himself in battles against recurring outbreaks of plague, and during his quarter-century of service at his hospital was six times decorated by the Chinese government for his work.  Schools associated with the Fenchow mission included the Ming I Middle School, schools for men's and women's adult education, a Bible training School, grammar and elementary schools, and a kindergarten. Another Carleton alumna, Miss Josie E. Horn '11, long had charge of the Lydia Lord Davis School for Girls.

At Carleton, the Mission Board first supported a representative in China from 1904 to 1906, when Mary Reynolds '04 took up a post as tutor to the children of the Empress Dowager's family. In Fenchow, the Carleton Mission supported part of the salaries of Dr. and Mrs. Watson from 1909 to 1922, and also of three successive teachers supported in association with the Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior, Ruth W. Tolman '15, Vera M. Holmes '18, and Helen P. Gallagher '22.

In 1918, the Carleton Mission Board determined to adopt as its focus for support the educational work at Fenchow. Under the Carleton-in-China plan begun in 1922 and lasting into the 1940s, Carleton regularly sent student representatives to teach English, usually on overlapping two-year appointments. These “C-in-C reps,” most of whom taught at the Ming I Middle School, were usually sent after their junior year at Carleton, with the expectation that they would return to Carleton for a final student year after their time in China. The complete list of such representatives is as follows:

                        1922-25            J. Larry Krause  [Carleton-supported first two years]

                        1924-27            Erwin A. Hertz

                        1926-27            Ellis C. Yale

                        1926-28            Sarah W. Beach

                        1928-29            Everett A. Sandburg

                        1928-30            Edward C. Rosenow, Jr.

                        1929-31            William J. Bakken

                        1930-32            Richard E. P. Youtz

                        1931-33            J. Stanley Stevens

                        1932-34            Marshall O. Eck

                        1933-35            Robert E. Nugent

                        1934-35            Justus J. Geist (unofficial)

                        1935-36            Bernice Brown (paid own expenses)

                        1935-37            Carl B. Huber

                        1936-39            John R. Caton

                        1937-39            Paul Clifford Domke

                        1939-42            John M. Hlavacek (stayed on longer, but not as Carleton rep)

                        1939-41            J. Rhodes Longley

                        1941-43            Thomas R. Wiener

                        1947-48            Fern A. Larson

                        1948                  Philip M. Martin

The Fenchow station was, of course, always subject to the sometimes tumultuous events taking place in the world around it. In 1927, as a Chinese communist army moved into Shansi province and prepared to occupy Fenchow, all missionaries and their families, save Dr. Watson, were sent to safety in Korea. Watson was threatened with death and a suit of his clothes was burned in effigy by the communists, but, as Watson later recalled, they "became more friendly" after the hospital provided medical treatment for a number of soldiers and officers. The Watson family eventually returned to the U.S. in the mid-1930s.

Following the Japanese invasion of Shansi province in 1937, the Ming I Middle School moved south for some months, returned to Fenyang, and then was overrun when the city fell suddenly in February 1938. The school was essentially disbanded for a time, with students that had escaped Fenyang scattered in various locations, some becoming soldiers while others enrolled together in a government school accepting refugee students from China's war zones. One Ming I remnant joined with the Oberlin-connected Ming Hsien school, which reestablished itself first in Shensi [Shaanxi] province and later in Szechuan [Sichuan] province. For a period there were two Ming I's in operation, as the Fenyang school was reopened under Japanese occupation. During part of that time, one Carleton-in-China representative was teaching with the combined Ming Hsien/Ming I group in Shensi and Szechuan while the other had returned to Japanese-occupied Shansi.

World War II brought a major interruption in the program, and no new Carleton-in-China representative was sent out from 1942 through 1946. When the program was revived in 1947, Fern Larson ’47 was sent to teach at Yü Ying Academy in Peking [Beijing], followed by Philip Martin ’48 in 1948. But continuance soon became untenable in the face of the impending Communist victory, and both Carleton representatives were evacuated home in November 1948.

After 1950, Carleton-in-China reconstituted itself, in somewhat different form, into Carleton Abroad and then Carleton-in-Japan.

            Presidents or Chairmen of the Carleton Mission Board / Carleton-in-China Board

                        1903-06            James W. Strong

                        1906-08            William H. Sallmon

                        1908-09            James W. Strong

                        1909-22            Donald J. Cowling

                        1922-24            Edwin B. Dean

                        1925-27            Franz W. Exner

                        1927-32            Jacob Balzer

                        1932-42            Axel Vestling

                        1943-46            (did not meet)

                        1947-48            Philip H. Phenix

                        1949-50            James C. Flint

                        1950                Philip H. Phenix

Administrative Information

Repository: Carleton College Archives

Related Materials: See the Carleton-in-Japan Collection (36) for the record of the successor program to Carleton-in-China. The Laura B. Cross Papers (104) concern a Carleton graduate long associated with the Bridgman Academy for Girls in Beijing, who sometimes interacted with Carleton-in-China. The Archives also holds material from or about a number of other Carleton alumni who served as missionaries or in other capacities in pre-1950 China, which is usually to be found in individual Alumni Biographical Files (1). General biographical information on Carleton alumni or staff figuring in the Carleton-in-China history is to be be found in Alumni Biographical Files (1), in Faculty/Staff Files (2A), or President's Office Personnel Files (58A). Some objects and artifacts obtained by the college through delegation visits between Carleton and Fenyang may also be found in Objects and Artifacts.

Processing Information: LOCATION CHECKED

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 35A: Administrative Records of the Carleton Mission and Carleton-in-China],
[Series 35B: Contemporaneous Publications and Printed Matter],
[Series 35C: Personal Papers],
[Series 35D: Photographs],
[Series 35E: Films and Other Recordings],
[Series 35F: Oral History Interviews],
[Series 35G: Historical Writings],
[Series 35H: Objects and Oversized Items],

Series 35D: PhotographsAdd to your list.
Box Numbers: 9-14
Sub-Series 1: 1910s - 1941: GeneralAdd to your list.
Box Number: 9-10
Folder 9/2: Misc. photographs taken 1910s-c.1926Add to your list.
People depicted: Erwin A. Hertz, Percy T. Watson, Watts O. Pye
Folder 9/3: Carleton Mission - Fenchow photograph album, 1913-1914Add to your list.
Additional Date Information: From internal evidence, assembled within a year of (but after) April 1913.
Donor Information: Purchased from Denning House Antiquarian Books & Manuscripts, Lancaster, PA, in April 2014.
People depicted: Gertrude Chaney Pye, Watts O. Pye, Percy T. Watson, Flora K. Heebner, Grace E. McConnaughey, Clara French Watson, Edith M. Watson, Mrs. Wang, Hemingway family, Mrs. Beard, Mrs. Hurlburt, Miss Wingate
Folder 9/4: Photographs from the Watson family, taken c.1912-c.1931Add to your list.
Donor Information: from Percy T. Watson, or members of the Percy T. Watson family, date unknown
People depicted: Percy T. Watson, Clara French Watson, Edith M. Watson, Watts O. Pye, Gertrude Chaney Pye, Flora K. Heebner, Grace E. McConnaughey, Mr. Meng(?), Margery E. Watson, Gertrude B. Kellogg, Mrs. Leonard M. Outerbridge, R. Janet Watson, Sarah W. Beach, William W. Watson, P. Theodore Watson
Published in: News Bulletin Apr. 1924: 5
Folder 9/5: Photographs and captions from tribute to Dr. Watson, originals taken c.1919-c.1934Add to your list.
People depicted: Percy T. Watson
Folder 9/6: Photographs from Sarah Beach, taken 1926-1928Add to your list.
Donor Information: from Sarah Beach Hunt, Feb. 1990
People depicted: Sarah W. Beach, Lou Ta Sao, Gertrude B. Kellogg, Grace E. McConnaughey, Helen Dizney, Gladys M. Williams, Harold B. Ingalls, Everett D. Hawkins, Flora K. Heebner, Albert C. Hausske, Erwin A. Hertz, Gertrude Chaney Pye, Josie E. Horn, Clara French Watson, Ellis C. Yale, Rowland Cross, Percy T. Watson, Lucian Pye, P. Theodore Watson, R. Janet Watson, Edith M. Watson, William W. Watson, Margery E. Watson, Emma B. Noreen, Chang Kiren Lien(?), Wang Ru Chen, Mary L. McClure, Alma Roisum, Mr. Reinvoldt(?), Mrs. Leonard M. Outerbridge
Folder 9/7: Misc. photographs probably taken 1926-1928Add to your list.
Includes one duplicate photograph also donated by Sarah Beach Hunt
Folder 9/8: Misc. photographs taken 1929-1934Add to your list.
People depicted: Feng Yu-hsiang (Feng Yuxiang), J. Stanley Stevens, Charles Chang
Folder 10/1: Misc. photographs taken 1935-1939Add to your list.
People depicted: John R. Caton, Paul Clifford Domke, Liu Tsan Fu
Folder 10/2: Photographs from Bernice Brown, taken 1935-1936Add to your list.
Donor Information: from Bernice Brown Hanson, Feb. 1994
People depicted: Bernice Brown, Carl B. Huber, Mark Wu, Jerry Cheney, Fran Cade, Jo Hamilton, Robbins Strong, Chow Ying-hua(?)
Folder 10/3: Photographs from John Hlavacek and Jay Longley, taken 1939-1941Add to your list.
Folder 10/4: Misc. photographs of unknown datesAdd to your list.
Sub-Series 2: 1936 - 1939: Caton and Domke CollectionAdd to your list.
Box Numbers: 11-15
Box 11: Negatives 001 (N) - 2000 (N)Add to your list.
Box 12: Negatives) 2001 (N) - 2417 (N); Prints 001 (P) - 950 (P)Add to your list.
Box 13: Prints 951 - 2400 (P)Add to your list.
Box 14: Prints 2401 (P) - 3180 (P)Add to your list.
Sub-Series 3: Commemorative Photo Albums, 1986, 2005Add to your list.
Albums created in Fenyang that include commemorations of significant visits to the former mission site.
Folder 10/5: Fenyang Hospital photo album, 1986Add to your list.
Includes: photographs of Arthur Hummel Jr.'s 1984 Fenyang visit
Donor Information: From Whitney Rassbach, who received it as a gift during his 1995 visit to Fenyang Hospital
Folder 10/6: Album given Eric Hillemann to commemorate Fenyang visit, 2005Add to your list.

Browse by Series:

[Series 35A: Administrative Records of the Carleton Mission and Carleton-in-China],
[Series 35B: Contemporaneous Publications and Printed Matter],
[Series 35C: Personal Papers],
[Series 35D: Photographs],
[Series 35E: Films and Other Recordings],
[Series 35F: Oral History Interviews],
[Series 35G: Historical Writings],
[Series 35H: Objects and Oversized Items],

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