We recently received a gift from a resident of Cromwell, CT a series of typed  daily accounts which amount to a diary by William J. McClimont, a Catholic missionary in China in 1931.  Entries are often addressed to his “aunt Sadie” (F. Sadie Briggs, of Philadelphia). It is 417 typed, single-spaced pages, and starts on page 159 (see the entry for January 4, shown here, where he explains that a part of the diary was burned.  The surviving pages begin with January 1, 1931, and it is complete for every day of the year to December 31, ending on Page 576.  There are often manuscript additions on the pages, or on the versos–mostly polite inquiries into the health of family members, but often other notes as well.  He also seems to be excerpting from other sources as well as adding his own bits.

According to A Dictionary of Asian Christianity (2001), in the article on “China,” p. 144: “…The chaotic situation [of the Anti-Christian movement, begun in the early 1920s] was brought under control when the Northern Expedition was concluded and the government, under the leadership of the Nationalist Party, expelled the Communists from its camp. Social order was restored and religious freedom was re-ensured. Missionaries were able to return to their stations, but the number was reduced due to severe budget cuts for mission work owing to the Great Depression beginning in 1929. After Jiang Jiashi (Chiang Kai-shek) became a Christian [he was baptized Methodist in 1929], the church-state relationship warmed up significantly. Christians were invited to play a role in the social and cultural reconstruction programs conducted by the Nationalist Government (“New Life Movement”) in the 1930s.”

There are at least two archival collections that relate to this diary, a major collection at DePaul University and a few records at the New York State Library.

There is also a 1951 MA thesis (Catholic U.) by Julius Schick, Diplomatic Correspondence concerning the Chinese missions of the American Vincentians, 1929-1934.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 7:47 pm and is filed under Gifts, New acquisition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed at this time.