Laura Maude Wheeler papers, 1903-1966  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Wheeler, Laura Maude, 1874-1966
Laura Maude Wheeler papers
1903-1966 (inclusive)
4.0 linear feet, (10 containers)
Collection Number
Ax 372
Collection comprises correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, publications, postcards, and photographs relating to Methodist missionary Laura Maude Wheeler and her work as a teacher and school administrator in Tianjin, China from 1903 to 1948, and as an evangelist in the United States from 1949 to 1966. From 1943 to 1945, Wheeler was interned as a prisoner of war by the Japanese in China. She was a writer and traveler who was acutely aware of China's cultural and physical landscape and wrote widely on topics relating to Christianity in China.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
UO Libraries--SPC, 1299
University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 541-346-3068
Fax: 541-346-3485
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Laura Maude Wheeler, known as "Maude," was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1874. Her father was a minister and had been a Methodist missionary to China. He took her and the rest of the family to China during his missionary service when Laura was six years old. She returned to the United States for high school and college, graduating from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin. She taught for a few years before becoming a Methodist missionary in China in 1903. During her first term she was located in Peking at the Gamewell School. During her next term and throughout the rest of her missionary career, which ended in 1948, Wheeler worked in Tientsin in Northern China at the Keen School, first as a teacher and later as an administrator. She was a writer and a traveler, a collector of photos and pictures, and a person acutely aware of China's foreign, cultural and physical landscape. From 1943 to 1945, Wheeler was held in an internment camp, with around two thousand other foreigners, during the Japanese military campaign in China. After her retirement in 1948, she resided in Pasadena, California and continued to be an active evangelist, evident in her writings and correspondence from this time period. She died in July of 1966.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Laura Maude Wheeler Papers (1874-1966) consist of Wheeler's own memoirs, published and unpublished, publications of various Chinese missionary and educational groups, miscellaneous mementos, and a variety of images, which include postcards, photographs, and artwork. Her memoirs present a thoughtful, missionary's perspective on Chinese culture and some of her interesting experiences, particularly her internment by the Japanese during World War II and her description of the beginning of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. The images of this collection provide a vivid account of China and missionary schools.

Series I, Incoming Correspondence consists of letters to Laura Maude Wheeler that post- date her missionary career. Many of the letters are addressed letters from religious groups, namely the missions branch of the Methodist church. There are also letters from Keen School students and alumni, some of whom knew Miss Wheeler.

Series II, Diary contains one diary of 1935-1938. This diary covers a variety of topics from Chinese culture and missionary life, which are laid out in a table of contents at the beginning. One of the most interesting subjects is Wheeler's firsthand account of the beginning of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, pgs. 36-53.

Series III, Manuscripts contains some of Wheeler's more formal writing about the topics of her life. Apparently they are derived from personal diaries, which are not present in this collection. Some of them have been reproduced in Wheeler's autobiographical book, Recollection of my Chinese Days. Some of the manuscripts are present in two copies, one earlier copy with proofreading notes and a finished copy. The subseries is in accord with Wheeler's organization. Subseries A, Biographies, contains five moralistic essays about the lives Chinese Christians and a U.S. soldier in China. Subseries B, Historical and Local Subjects, contains descriptions of various Chinese subjects, the devolution of churches, common villages and homes, monetary system, summer resorts of Northern China, and the homes of evangelist workers. Subseries C, Internment Camp, contains manuscripts describing Wheeler's internment by the Japanese in Weihsien, China during the Sino-Japanese War from 1943-1945, by then part of the conflict of World War II. She recalls the hardship that she and other foreigners experienced and their joy at the close of the War. Subseries D, Travel, contains manuscripts describing various locales. Wheeler relays a scientist’s account of Mongolia as well as her own travels in China and abroad. Some stories are vehicles for Christian morals and others are purely descriptive.

Series IV, Book contains two copies of Wheeler's book of memoirs, Recollection of my Chinese Days, 1903-1948. The first copy contains a biographical note by Wheeler's niece, page 2. The book consists of a summary of Wheeler's missionary experience, including different cities and schools she was located at, her various duties, people she knew, and general statements about political and cultural circumstances in China. In addition to this section there are printed versions of the manuscripts describing her internment and those describing her furloughs.

Series V, Educational Materials contains some of Wheeler's class notes and some of her educational aids, a handwritten religious booklet with translations, flashcards for memorizing the catechism in Chinese, and a book of Chinese songs.

Series VI, Educational Publications contains various publications by some Chinese mission schools with which Wheeler and her peers were affiliated. Subseries A, General Publications, contains two informative publications about Chinese missionary schools, "The Soochow University Newsletter" and a pamphlet entitled, "The Story of Christian Colleges in China." Subseries B, Administrative Publications, contains official information of Keen School and the Robincroft Family, progress reports, indexes of teachers and students, and a request for donations. Subseries C, Yearbooks, consists of the yearbooks from three Chinese missionary schools, Gamewell School, Peking Higher Primary School and Hwa Nan College.

Series VII, Religious Publications consists of informative pieces about Christianity in China and evangelical tracts. Subseries A, General Publications, contains an "Account of Peking Union Church Reunion," a description of the missionary progress within the Tientsin District, "Heroine in Peace and War," which is a biographical account of missionary Mary Gamewell, and an account of the 70 year history of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. Subseries B, Tracts, contains two evangelical publications, "Pray for Chinese Christians" and "The Voice of China."

Series VIII, Miscellaneous consists of various personal possessions. It contains passports and a Peking police registration, a published map of Tientsin with a hand-drawn map of the Northern Chinese missions, several Chinese prints with designs and characters, and picture descriptions originally located with the glass plate pictures.

Series IX, Postcards contains many postcards collected by Laura Maude Wheeler in her travels during furloughs and from China. The postcards are organized by the country of location.

Series X, Photographs is made up of photographs of various subjects, at times collected within albums. Subseries A, General Photographs, contains many photos of Chinese people and places from Keen School and the Tientsin District, as well as photos from other countries taken during furlough. The portraits provide a wonderful array of clothing and artifacts, as well as a sense of the environments of teaching and living. Subseries B, Wares, contains two catalogues, one of brassware and one of earthenware, from China. They both provide examples of the styles of China's products. Subseries C, Picture Books, contains three bound volumes of pictures with descriptions attached to each postcard or photo. The three themes of the booklets are Chinese Cave Temples, Korean Customs, and "How We Got our Bible," a biblical primer.

Series XI, Oversize contains a large album of photographs from Keen School, such as class photos and faculty photos, and several photos originally loosely contained within the album, as well as several posters, photographs, and art. The loose photos consist of Wheeler, Keen School students, faculty, and a few Chinese families as well as two Chinese drawings depicting stories; one depicts a nativity scene with Chinese characters. The posters are interesting examples of recruitment art, depicting scenes of agriculture and Christianity. There are two wide panoramic photographs, one of a group of missionaries, the other of the Shanghai waterfront. There is a Chinese calendar with a Christian scene and picture with enormous Chinese calligraphy.

Series XII, Photographs (PH121) contains additional photographs.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Available in microfilm as part of: Women's lives. Series 3, American women missionaries and pioneers collection (MICROFILM BV3703 .W66 2006, reel 7-9); Primary Source Microfilm, 12 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Laura Maude Wheeler Papers, Ax 372, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

PapersReturn to Top

12.0 linear feet

InventoryReturn to Top

Container(s): Box 1, Folder 1

Series I:  Incoming correspondenceReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 2
Bethel Mission of China-Clara Kuo Hsu
1 3
Clara Kuo Hsu-Ralph and Katherine Ward
1 4
Ralph and Katherine Ward-Woman's Division of Methodist Missions
1 5
Woman's Division of Methodist Missions-Joan Young

Series II:  DiaryReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 6

Series III:  ManuscriptsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Subseries A: Biographies
Box Folder
1 7
"A GI with a Dream..."-"Liu Feng Tung-the Banker"
1 8
"7 Fishers of Men"-"Wu Pu Yin"
Subseries B: Historical and Local Subjects
Box Folder
1 9
"Banks and Money in China"-"Devolution of the 12 Peiping Churches"
1 10
"A Peep into to some Homes of Evangelist Workers"-"Summer-Resorts"
Subseries C: Internment Camp
Box Folder
1 11
"Intern Days..."-"The Days that Followed Internment"
Subseries D: Travel
Box Folder
1 12
1 13
"Here and There; Now and Then"
1 14
"A Peep into Mongolia"-"A Trip to Tai Mao"

Series IV:  BookReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 15
Recollections of my Chinese Days
1 16
Recollections of my Chinese Days (2nd copy)

Series V:  Educational MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 17
Class Notes
1 18
Class Notes
1 19
Class Notes
1 20
"The Acts of the Apostles," in Chinese with translations
1 21
Chinese Catechism Flashcards
1 22
Chinese Catechism Flashcards
1 23
Chinese Songbook with translations

Series VI:  Educational PublicationsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Subseries A: General
Box Folder
1 24
Soochow University Newsletter & "...Christian Colleges in China"
Subseries B: Administrative
Box Folder
1 25
Administrative Documents
1 26
"Keen Girls in Hong Kong and Formosa,"
Subseries C: Yearbooks
Box Folder
1 27
The Gamewell School Yearbook
2 1
Hwa Nan College Yearbook
2 2
Peking Higher Primary School Yearbook, 60th Anniversary

Series VII:  Religious PublicationsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Subseries A: General
Box Folder
2 3
Account of Peking Union Church Reunion
2 4
Description of Tientsin District
2 5
"A Heroine in Peace and War," (Biography of Mary Porter Gamewell) & the 70th Anniversary of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society
Subseries B: Tracts
Box Folder
2 6
"Pray for Chinese Christians" & "The Voice of China"

Series VIII:  MiscellaneousReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
2 7
2 8
2 9
Certificate of Registration, Bureau of Police, Peking
2 10
Map of Tientsin & Map of Northern Chinese Missions
2 11
Chinese Prints
2 12
Chinese Prints
2 13
2 14
Descriptions Originally Located with Glass Plate Pictures

Series IX:  PostcardsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
3 1
Postcards from America, the Azores and China
3 2
Postcards from China
3 3
Postcards from China
3 4
Postcards from China
3 5
Postcards from China
3 6
Postcards from China and Egypt
3 7
Postcards from Egypt
3 8
Postcards from Egypt and England
3 9
Postcards from France
3 10
Postcards from Germany
3 11
Postcards from Germany
3 12
Postcards from Greece
3 13
Postcards from Greece
3 14
Postcards from Hawaii and Hong Kong
3 15
Postcards from India
3 16
Postcards from India
3 17
Postcards from India
3 18
Postcards from India
3 19
Postcards from India
3 20
Postcards from India
3 21
Postcards from India
4 1
Postcards from India
4 2
Postcards from Italy
4 3
Postcards from Italy
4 4
Postcards from Italy
4 5
Postcards from Italy
4 6
Postcards from Japan
4 7
Postcards from Korea
4 8
Postcards from Korea & the Middle East
4 9
Postcards from the Middle East
4 10
Postcards from the Middle East
4 11
Postcards from the Middle East & Singapore
4 12
Postcards from Singapore
4 13
Postcards from Singapore, Thailand & Unknown
4 14
Souvenir Pictures
4 15
Souvenir Pictures with Chinese Views

Series X:  PhotographsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Subseries A: General
Box Folder
5 1
Chinese People Receiving Bibles
5 2
Chinese Student at Desk
5 3
American Women Outdoors
5 4
Woman's Conference of 1941, Peking
5 5
Wheeler with 4 Chinese Boys
5 6
Chinese Schoolgirls
5 7
Chinese Nurses
5 8
Chinese Family
5 9
Graduating Chinese Schoolgirls
5 10
Westerners on the Verandahs of a Mansion
5 11
Wheeler with Chinese People
5 12
Furloughed Missionary Assembly (w/ list of names)
5 13
5 14
Chinese Man beside Tree
5 15
Chinese Women Teaching
5 16
Young Chinese Women in a Flower Garden
5 17
Asian Family
5 18
Two Chinese Girls
5 19
A Young Chinese Classroom
5 20
Cat and Sun-dial on Lawn
5 21
Chinese Men in Formal and Military Attire
5 22
Gardener in a Yard
5 23
Vase with Crane in a Courtyard
5 24
Dr. N. S. Hopkins
5 25
Schoolgirls Practicing Drills in Courtyard
5 26
Chinese Girl with Flowers
5 27
Two Chinese Girls with Bamboo
5 28
Young Chinese Men Carrying Coal
5 29
Chinese Family
5 30
Chinese Woman
5 31
Chinese Boy and Girl
5 32
Young Chinese Couple in Peking
5 33
Chinese Woman and Girl
5 34
Two Chinese Girls
5 35
Chinese Women Dressed for Christian Pageant
5 36
School children with teachers in China
5 37
Western woman and a Chinese woman
5 38
Students in Biblical Costumes and Teacher
5 39
Chinese Schoolgirls
5 40
Large Group of Chinese People with Infants and Toddlers
5 41
Sunday School Group of Hsiao Liu Chuang
5 42
Chinese Girl
5 43
Chinese Girl with Diploma
5 44
Chinese Girl
5 45
Indians with Covered Wagons
5 46
Young Indian Women in Courtyard
5 47
Indian Women with Strollers
5 48
Indian Architecture
5 49
Indian Waterfront, Benares, Ganges
5 50
Gate at Fort Delhi
5 51
The Acropolis
5 52
Facade of Isabella Thoburn College
5 53
Delhi Man with Horse and Buggy
5 54
The Parthenon
5 55
The Parthenon
5 56
The Acropolis
5 57
5 58
The Acropolis
5 59
Chinese Women with Children and Teacher
5 60
Keen School Photo Album
Subseries B1: Chinese Brassware
Box Folder
6 1
6 2
6 3
6 4
6 5
6 6
6 7
6 8
6 9
6 10
6 11
6 12
6 13
Bowls & Platters
6 11
Containers & Boxes
6 12
6 13
Bowls and Platters
6 14
Containers and Boxes
6 15
6 16
6 17
6 18
6 19
Fireplace Accessories
6 20
6 21
6 22
Price List
Subseries B2: Chinese Earthenware
Box Folder
6 23
Photo Album/Catalogue of Earthenware
Subseries C: Picture Books
Box Folder
6 24
Chinese Cave Temples
6 25
Korean Customs
6 26
"How We Got our Bible"

Series XI:  OversizeReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
7 1
Class Portrait
7 2
Group Portrait
7 3
Chinese Nativity Drawing
7 4
Chinese Drawing
7 5
Graduation Portrait
7 6
Chinese Family
7 7
Chinese Family
7 8
Chinese Family
7 9
Keen School Photo Album
8 1
College Recruitment Poster
8 2
Chinese Agriculture Poster
8 3
Chinese Christian Poster

Series XII:  Photographs (PH121)Return to Top

1 container
Container(s) Description Dates
PH121_001: Dr. Lee-Family
black and white print
4 x 2.5 inches
Description: Man standing with wife, daughter, and son, holding infant.
PH121_002: Precedes introduction page
black and white print
4.5 x 2.75 inches
Description: Large tree with concrete benched encircling base.
PH121_003: Untitled
black and white print
3 x 4 inches
Description: White woman standing in white flowered dress behind low branch of large tree.
PH121_004: "manna from the skies" arriving Aug 17 "as alms 78 —-- came to the children of —-" Food came to us- Chap III Internment Camp
black and white print
2.5 x 3.75 inches
Description: Aircraft dropping packages with parachutes, top of barb wire fence in foreground.
PH121_005: "Supplies & Men!" Areceding pg 7 (each page 7 Days—- Internment camp)
black and white print
3.75 x 2.75 inches
Description: Aircraft dropping packages with parachutes, tower with American flag atop in foreground.
PH121_006: "Pupils and teacher of Women's Bible Training School"-Peiping
black and white print
2.75 x 4.25 inches
Description: White woman (Wheeler?) standing with five Chinese woman next to flowering trees.
PH121_007: Babies and mothers at "Better Baby Day" Central- The me with long facbage took the prize"
black and white print
2.75 x 4.5 inches
Description: Group of Chinese women and babies posing for picture with packages.
PH121_008: Painted by school of Christian Art Pekington
color print
5.5 x 3.5 inches
Description: Picture of Colored Chinese painting with people on Shore greeting boat with other people on board with who appears to be "Jesus".
PH121_009: Peking
black and white print
4.5 x 7 inches
Description: Group portrait of older "white" men and woman sitting and standing on steps of building.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christian life--Methodist authors
  • Christianity--China
  • Methodist Church--Missions--China--Tianjin
  • Methodist women--China
  • Missions, American--China--Tianjin
  • Missions, American--China--Tianjin--Photographs
  • Prisoners of war--China
  • Prisoners of war--United States
  • Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945
  • Women Christian educators--China
  • Women missionaries--China
  • World War, 1939-1945--Perosnal narratives, American
  • World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, Japanese
  • Personal Names :
  • Wheeler, Laura Maude, 1874-1966--Correspondence
  • Wheeler, Laura Maude, 1874-1966--Diaries
  • Corporate Names :
  • Keen School (Tianjin, China)
  • Methodist Church (U.S.)--Missions--China--Tianjin
  • United Methodist Church (U.S.)--Board of Missions--Women's Division
  • Geographical Names :
  • China--Photographs
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts for publication
  • Photographs
  • Postcards--China