Thomas Torrance Papers
Scope and Contents
These papers provide valuable documentation of mission work of the China Inland Mission and American Bible Society in Sichuan (Szechuan), West China. Also of significance in the collection are primary source accounts of Chinese Christians, and materials related to Torrance's research among the Ch'iang people in the upper Min valley, including relating to Torrance's theory that the Ch'iang people were of Jewish descent.
The Correspondence of Series I is divided into Family Correspondence and General Correspondence. The correspondence between Torrance and his family dates from the period when he was in West China and the family was in Scotland, for the children's education, 1928-1934. This was a turbulent period in the history of West China, due to the emergence of the Communist party. Torrance returned to Scotland in 1934 and there heard of Mao Zedong's destruction of Ch'iang Christian churches.
The General Correspondence dates from 1906 to 1955 and deals primarily with Torrance's relations with the China Inland Mission and American Bible Society. A section of letters relating to the Vale/Torrance case and Torrance's departure from the China Inland Mission was restricted until 1999 but it now open.
The Writings of Series II include material written by Torrance, the memoirs of his wife, Annie Elizabeth Sharp Torrance, and material collected by Torrance. Torrance's writings include an unpublished manuscript of conversion stories of Chinese Christians, miscellaneous other stories of Chinese Christians, published articles and leaflets, and reports of his work.
Annie Torrance's memoirs date from 1883 to 1927; they document her work as a missionary serving under the China Inland Mission and the period following her marriage to Torrance. The writings collected by Torrance include reviews of his writings, Chinese manuscripts, and numerous articles related to West China and the Ch'iang people.
The Personal Items and Memorabilia of Series III include Chinese travel passes and a Chinese scroll tribute to Torrance.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Thomas F. Torrance and M. Elizabeth Newlands
- I. Correspondence, 1909-1935
- II. Writings, 1883-1984
- III. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1897-2013
3 Linear Feet (7 boxes)
Language of Materials
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
These papers document the work of the China Inland Mission and American Bible Society in Sichuan (Szechuan), West China. Also of significance in the collection are primary source accounts of Chinese Christians, and materials related to Torrance's research among the Ch'iang people in the upper Min valley, including relating to Torrance's theory that the Ch'iang people were of Jewish descent. Thomas Torrance was a missionary in Sichuan (Szechuan), China from 1896 to 1934, first with the China Inland Mission and then with the American Bible Society.
Biographical / Historical
- Born in Shotts, Lanarkshire, Scotland
- Attended Hulme Cliff College in Derbyshire
- Studied at Livingstone College, London
- 1896 January
- Rev. Thomas Torrance arrived in Shanghai
- Stationed in Western Sichuan (Szechuan), working as a missionary with the China Inland Mission, with headquarters in Chengdu.
- Serious disagreement with members of the China Inland Mission. Finally settled after ten years.
- Withdrew from China Inland Mission due to disagreement. Returned to Scotland. Later persuaded by Dr. John Hykes, Head of the American Bible Society in Shanghai, to return to China to take over the agency of the ABS in Sichuan (Szechuan), centered in Chengdu.
- Married Annie Elizabeth Sharp, a missionary with the China Inland Mission, stationed in Kuanshien.
- Births of Torrance children: Mary, Thomas F., Grace, Margaret, James, David.
- Torrance family left China due to the early communist troubles under Chiang Kai-shek and returned to Scotland. Later, returned to China to continue missionary work, leaving wife and children in Scotland. Remained for seven years.
- Returned to Scotland due to Civil War in China. During the revolution, the Ch'iang villages and Christian churches established by Torrance in the upper Min valley were destroyed. Later, Torrance received a New Testament which had been buried to preserve it from the Communists as a symbol of the reestablishment of the Christian Church among the Ch'iang.
- Died in Edinburgh
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)”.
- Guide to the Thomas Torrance Papers
- Compiled by Joan R. Duffy and Martha Lund Smalley
- 1996, 2003, 2014, 2016
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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