China Resources at the Yale Divinity School Library

The Divinity Library holds extensive manuscript and archival material related to missionary work and the Christian church in China. Records of nearly 400 former China missionaries and many organizations are represented, primarily from the years 1832 to 1950. The library has also acquired numerous microform archives collections and digital resources to complement its holdings of original manuscripts. This documentation is of use both in providing information about events, movements, and institutions in China, and in providing insight into the Western societies that sent, supported, and were embodied in the missionaries. Many of the China-related collections at the Divinity Library came to Yale as part of the China Records Project initiated by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A in 1968. 
Types of missionary records:
  • Personal letters, diaries, writings, memorabilia of individuals working in an area
  • Letters, reports, and financial information related to the mission agencies for which they were working
  • Periodicals and reports distributed by those agencies
  • Narratives and memoirs written by missionaries
How to find archival materials:
Personal papers:
See a full listing of personal papers of missionaries to China held by the Divinity Library at
Some sample collections: 
  • Willard Livingstone Beard Papers (Record Group 108): Correspondence, diaries, writings, collected material, and photographs of a missionary who served in Fujian province from 1894 to 1941 under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
  • Cai Yongchun Papers (Record Group 205): Correspondence, writings, and research materials provide insight into the life and work of a Chinese scholar, educator, and theologian, and into conditions in China during the Cultural Revolution
  • Campbell Family Papers (Record Group 7): American Baptist missionaries who worked in south China from 1887-1946, including among the Hakka people
  • William Richard Johnson Papers (Record Group 6): American Methodist missionary in China from 1906 to 1941 and an administrator for famine relief work
  • Elsie Clark Krug Papers (Record Group 142): Faculty member at Hwa Nan College, Fuzhou, 1912-1918
  • Lorenzo and Ruth Bennett Morgan Papers (Record Group 126): Medical missionaries in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, serving under the Presbyterian and Methodist mission boards from 1905 to 1946
  • Albert and Celia Steward Papers (Record Group 20): Methodist missionaries serving at the University of Nanking 1921-1950

Archives of organizations:

  • American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Microfilm: Film Ms32):  ABCFM had missions in Foochow (Fuzhou), South China, North China, and Shansi (Shanxi). Microfilm covers years 1827-1919. Originals of ABCFM archives are held at Harvard; see more detailed guide
  • Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, Board of World Missions (Microfilm: Film Ms520): Work in Henan, Hubei and Jiangxi; annual conference records 1918-1956, held in Hong Kong after 1950
  • Baptist Missionary Society (Microfilm: Film Ms56): Documentation of British Baptist work throughout China 1869-1919
  • China American Schools (Record Group 209): This collection contains documentation of the following schools for missionary children in China and the alumni associations of the schools: Kuling American School, North China American School, and Peking American School; see also collections for the Shanghai American School (Record Group 132) and American School Kikungshan (Record Group 164)
  • China Inland Mission (Microfilm: Film Ms397; also available to Yale community in digital format in Area Studies: China and Southeast Asia database): Material documents James Hudson Taylor's work for the Chinese Evangelisation Society in Shanghai (1853-1856) and Ningpo (1857-1860), the founding of the China Inland Mission, work of CIM missionaries
  • Chinese Students Christian Association in North America (Record Group 13): Support agency for Chinese students studying in North America, 1909 to 1952
  • Church Missionary Society (Microfilm: Film Ms109): British agency with missions in South China, Chekiang, Western China, Fukien, Kwangsi-Hunan 1834-1951; see online guides linked to from catalog record
  • Church of Christ in China Border Service Department (Record Group 17): Records of work among ethnic minorities in West China, 1939-1950
  • Lingnan Foundation (Record Groups 14, 14a and Microfilm Film Ms44): Support and grant-making agency originally established to support Lingnan University in South China 1898-2010
  • London Missionary Society (now Council for World Mission) (Microfiche: Fiche Ms59): Work in Fukien, South China, North China, Central China 1803-1939
  • Methodist Church (U.S.), Board of Missions (Microfilm: Film Ms171): U.S. agency with missions in Central China, East China, Foochow, Hingwa, Kiangsi, North China, West China 1912-1949
  • Methodist Episcopal Church (Microfilm: Film Ms170): Predecessor of Methodist Church (U.S); documentation covers 1840-1915
  • Methodist Missionary Society (Microfiche: Fiche Ms69): British agency with work throughout China, including Canton 1851-1905, Hunan, Hupeh, Ningpo, Wenchow, Wuchang 1905-1946
  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Microfilm: Film Ms11): Work throughout China; documentation covers 1837-1911
  • Presbyterian Church of England (Microfiche: Fiche Ms91): British agency with missions in South Fukien, Hakka area, Lingtung, Swatow 1863-1948
  • United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (Record Group 11): Records from thirteen colleges and universities established by Protestant mission agencies between 1880-1950, including Fukien Christian University, Ginling College, Hwa Nan College, Lingnan University, University of Nanking, St. John’s University, West China University, Yenching University
  • United States Catholic China Bureau (Record Group 194): Collection includes periodicals related to China and documentation of the programs of the USCCB 1976-2011
  • World Student Christian Federation (Record Group 46): Records include documentation of the student Christian movement in China 1890s-1920s

Ephemeral printed records related to many additional church-related organizations and institutions in China have been cataloged by the Library as "Historical Records."   To browse these records, do a search in Orbis ( for: "records of" china "world christianity"

Documentation of Chinese Christianity program:
This program was established in 2012 as a collaborative effort of Yale and the Hong Kong Baptist University Library to preserve and make accessible books, periodicals, reports, and archival materials that document Chinese Christianity. To request digital copies of these materials, please contact the Divinity Library.  
The Divinity Library holds many periodicals that document church and missions work in China, including the following.  The linked titles are available in digital format.
Annual reports: 
Annual reports of mission agencies provide detailed documentation.  See a list of annual reports from the Day Missions Collection that have been digitized at
Other photos and documents available online:
Examples of topics that have been pursued using archival collections at the Divinity Library:
  • “To Save China: Wu Yi-fang and Christian Chinese Nationalism, 1927-1937”
  • “Beyond the models of missionaries and men: a look at the history of Chinese education for women in the early 20th century”
  • “The rural reconstruction movement in China”
  • “Navigating the Student Storms: The Response of the China Mission Colleges, St. John's and Yenching, 1919-1927”
  • “Missionaries at war: the humanitarian effort of the Nanking International Relief Committee during the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945”
  • “Education and science in China”
  • “Taiping and Tiluan (Heavenly peace and earthly troubles): the experiences of a Baptist missionary in Shanghai in 1864”
  • “The Boxer Rebellion in Shanxi Province”
Last modified: 
Monday, March 7, 2022 - 9:21am