Myra Snow entered Methodist missionary work in the late 1920s and began teaching in Tientsin, in northern China, in the fall of 1928. A native of Los Angeles, Snow taught at Keen School (associated with Gamewell School), an all girls' institution, throughout the 1930s. Along with other American (and British) missionaries, Snow was interned by the Japanese in 1941 as a prisoner of war. She was repatriated to the U.S. in 1943, and the collection offers no clues about her life after World War II.
The collection offers a very brief, though descriptive glimpse into the political struggles and social transitions that took place in northern China during the early 1930s. While Snow's perspective, that of an American missionary, was limited, her letters offer insightful commentaries beyond the walls of the Keen School mission in Tientsin.
Similar to her fellow missionaries, Snow narrated cultural and social differences she encountered in Tientsin to her American readers. Her letters describe currency, a trip to Peking [Beijing], a Chinese play, and Chinese New Year celebrations as well as attempts to eliminate the lunar New Year. She was also attentive to the poverty and suffering that her neighbors endured. These differences prompted Snow to tell her family that after three months of teaching, she needed a vacation in order to escape the "constant association with an alien people [the Chinese]" as well as the "constant political and economic unrest" (14 January 1929).
Indeed, Snow offers other observations on events and persons not directly associated with the mission. In this regard, the Snow collection is unique. Many of the related collections associated with the lives of missionary women in the University of Oregon's Special Collections & University Archives do not offer similar references. Snow commented on the seeming local popularity of the "Christian General" (Feng Yu-hsiang or Feng Yuxiang) as well as his fall from grace as part of anti-Christian movements. She offered details on the convergence of traditional Chinese culture with Christianity in events such as a memorial service and a wedding. On her vacation to Beijing, Snow described sights like camel pack trains and the rebuilt summer palace but she also commented on the difficulty of creating equal opportunity in China. This seems to be something that concerned Snow. Elsewhere, she lamented the popularity of communism. While she argued that communism and Christianity shared the same goal--"lifting... people out of the depths of degradation," she believed Christianity the better way to accomplish this goal.
There is a significant gap in the Snow collection from 1931 to 1936. Her correspondence resumed in 1937 and describes the Japanese take-over of Tientsin. This collection includes the Myra Jaquet account of the internment of American missionaries after 1941. Researchers should consult related collections housed in this repository such as the Myra Jaquet Papers (A 180), the Clara Dyer Letters from Ch'angli collection (A 198), the Edith Shufeldt Papers (A 208) and the Edith Winifred Simester Letters from China collection (A 183).
Available in microfilm as part of: Women's lives. Series 3, American women missionaries and pioneers collection (MICROFILM BV3703 .W66 2006, reel 53); Primary Source Microfilm, 12 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525.
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[Identification of item], Myra Snow Papers, A 186, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.
|1||1||Letters||1928-March 10, 1929|
|1||2||Letters||March 22, 1929-December, 1929|
|1||3||Letters||February 8, 1930-July 29, 1937|
|1||4||Letter, from Myra Jaquet||January 28, 1944|