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Thelma Mills graduated from Willamette University in 1923. Mills began her career by teaching high school English in Raymond, Washington. From 1925 until the 1970's Mills worked with foreign students, particular Chinese students, in the US and abroad.
From 1925-1927 Mills taught English and choir at Methodist Missionary school in Tientsin, China. During that time she observed the Chinese civil war and traveled throughout China, taking many photographs.
From 1928-1930 Mills tutored Chinese students at International House in New York City. In 1930, she became a foreign student advisor at Whitman College and remained until 1950. From 1968 till 1971 Mills worked for the YWCA in Taipei, Taiwan.
The collection contains diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, travel mementos, postcards, and photographs.
The two diaries Mills kept during the period 1925-1927 when she was in China reveal only a few social and political observations. Most entries concern her friends, sister (who was the head of the Home Economics Department at Yenching University in Peking, China from 1922-1933), fellow teachers, school politics, travel, purchases, food, and social events. Included are entries regarding self-evaluations of her teaching, as well as student performance.
The diaries from Taiwan (1968-1971) reveal information about business matters, travel, social events, purchases, and reactions of the people in Taiwan. Observations of political events are also included. There are eleven total diaries for this period.
Correspondence is separated into incoming and outgoing sections.
Outgoing correspondence includes two notebooks entitled "War Letters" and contain information and impressions of the civil war in China. Photographs of Chinese soldiers are included. This section also includes letters to her family during 1925-1927.
Incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically by organization title, last name, or first name of sender. There are also twelve incoming postcards.
Manuscripts consist of speeches entitled "China Today," and "I have known 2 China's, But There is a Third." Material includes reference material used, notes, photographs, articles, and maps. There is also a typed draft of a manuscript titled, Chinese New Year.
Miscellaneous material includes travel mementos, photographs, a list of addresses of "all American citizens in Tientsin, China in 1927," pages of expenses and receipts from China, ship passenger lists (1925; 1927), a school exercise notebook containing student essays, newspaper clippings, and postcards from Taiwan.
Also available are over 900 photographs, including photos from China.
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[Identification of item], Thelma Mills papers, Ax 857, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.