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David M. Stowe Papers

Call Number: RG 156

Scope and Contents

The papers of David M. Stowe are valuable both for their biographical documentation and for the extensive documentation they contain related to the history of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and United Church Board for World Ministries. Throughout his long career as a China missionary, professor, and mission executive, David Stowe was an acute observer and wise analyst of the many issues facing the Christian enterprise in the second half of the twentieth century. Stowe was both a theologian and an historian. His extensive writings theological and missions-related issues and his participation in many important meetings and events are well documented in this collection. A large portion of the collection consists of the material Stowe wrote and gathered in preparation for writing a comprehensive history of the ABCFM and UCBWM. Stowe never completed this work but has left behind a well-organized and extensive gathering of source materials that will be of use to researchers on many topics.


  • 1806-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1949 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been transferred to Yale University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Stowe family, 2003-2021


  1. Series I. Correspondence, 1940s-1999
  2. Series II. Sermons, Lectures, Talks by DMS, 1942-1999
  3. Series III. Writings of DMS, 1940-2001
  4. Series IV. Drafts, Notes,Sources for Proposed Board History, 1812-1980s
  5. Series V. Resource Files: ABCFM/UCBWM Documents, 1806-1996
  6. Series VI. Resource Files: ABCFM/UCBWM Geographical / Topical Files, 1810-2003
  7. Series VII. DMS "Working Files", 1950s-1990s
  8. Series VIII. DMS Activities: Church and Ecumenical, 1954-1999
  9. Series IX: DMS Activities: Teaching and Research, 1949-1990s
  10. Series X. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1911-2000
  11. Series XI. Addendum - 2011, 1881-2001
  12. Series XII. Addendum - Material received from Andover Newton Theological School
  13. Series XIII. Addendum - 2019-2021


112 Linear Feet (268 boxes; one oversize portfolio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, sermons, lectures, writings, reports, slides, and collected material document the life and work of David M. Stowe, who was a top level executive for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the United Church Board for World Ministries, and the National Council of Church Division of Overseas Ministries. The collection includes extensive documentation of the history of the ABCFM and UCBWM that Stowe compiled in preparation for writing a history of the Boards.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology of David M. Stowe

1919 March 30
David Metz Stowe was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa
After attending Midland Lutheran College for two years, David Stowe transferred to the from University of California at Los Angeles and graduated with highest honors. Phi Beta Kappa 1943 B.D., Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA
Married Virginia Ware (Children: Nancy, Elizabeth, Priscilla, David)
Ordained; served as campus minister at First Congregational Church, a United Church congregation in Berkeley
Under appointment as missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, David and Virginia Stowe studied Chinese language and culture at Yale University Institute of Far Eastern Languages
Left for China; additional study at Chinese Language School in Beijing (Peking)
Assigned to general evangelistic work in Tianjin (Tientsin)
Assigned to faculty of Yenching University in Beijing (Peking). David and Virginia Stowe taught freshman English and David Stowe taught Western philosophy and New Testament in the School of Religion
1950 June
Forced to leave China because of outbreak of Korean War
Served as Associate Minister of the First Congregational Church in Berkeley while attending Pacific School of Religion
Received Th.D. degree from Pacific School of Religion
Served as Chaplain and professor of religion at Carleton College, Northfield, MN
Called to the national headquarters of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Boston to serve as its educational secretary
General Secretary for Interpretation and Personnel of the newly formed United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM) following merger of Congregational Christian Churches and Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ (UCC); also served as adjunct professor at Andover Newton Theological School during this period
On special assignment in Beirut, Lebanon, to teach in the Near East School of Theology. Also visited missions and participated in conferences in Asia, Africa and the Middle East
Returned to U.S. to serve as Executive Secretary of the Division of Foreign Missions of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCCCUSA)
Associate General Secretary of the NCCCUSA and director of the Division of Overseas Ministries
Honorary doctorate from Pacific School of Religion
Served as Executive Vice President of the United Church Board for World Ministries
In the years following his retirement from the UCBWM, DMS served as volunteer archivist and historian for the UCBWM, adjunct lecturer in missions at Andover Newton Theological School, adjunct professor at Pacific School of Religion (1985-1986), secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Fellowship,American Society of Missiology, officer of the World Commission on Religion and Peace, and tour leader for UCC tours to China.
2000 January 10
Died in Englewood, NJ

Processing Information

Place names were modernized in the description, with the name originally used in the collection material or in an older version of the finding aid in parenthesis: e.g. “Beijing (Peking)” or “Benin (Dahomey)”.

David M. Stowe Papers
Fantasia Thorne and Martha Lund Smalley
2008, 2011, 2015, 2019, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

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