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Ingram Family Papers

 Collection
Call Number: RG 325

Scope and Contents

The Ingram Family Papers consist largely of correspondence that circulated among family members divided between the United States and China. The majority of the letters were written by James Henry Ingram, who worked as a doctor for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Tongzhou (Tungcho), North China, and later with the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing. James’ letters, dating from his arrival in China in 1887 until his death in 1934, attest to his interest in Chinese politics, history, and the upheavals of the twentieth century. Close to Chinese students, politicians, and military personnel, James faithfully recorded his experiences and impressions for his family at “home” in the United States. Outside of the letters of James Ingram, this collection contains the extensive correspondence of James’ sister Nell Ingram, his wife Myrtle Ingram, and his six children. The breadth and extent of the Ingram Family Papers attests to the essential role letter writing played in retaining and strengthening their family ties during extended periods of physical distance as well as the enduring relationship over a tumultuous half century between the Ingram family and China.

Series I: Correspondence

Starting in 1887, when James Ingram moved to Tongzhou, his brother George Ingram, who lived in Princeton, New Jersey, collected the bulk of the letters contained in Series I. Following George’s death in 1930, the letters are predominantly addressed to the Ingrams’ daughter Ruth. Series I contains the correspondence of James Ingram and his immediate family: Sallie (Voss) Ingram, Myrtle (Bell Prough) Ingram; the children Ruth Ingram, Miriam Ingram (Pratt), Isabel Ingram (Mayer), Robert Ingram, and Lewis Ingram as well as letters from young Jane (Pratt Sheeks) and Nancy (Ingram Pratt), and Peggy (Margaret Pratt Macdonald). Following her move to Beijing in 1915 to teach at Jefferson Academy until George’s death in 1930, correspondence from Nell Ingram—George and James’ sister—represents a significant portion of George’s collected correspondence. The letters in this collection contain valuable information on the ABCFM mission station in Tongzhou, the Peking Union Medical College, and James Ingram’s work and impressions of medicine in North China. Furthermore, James comments extensively on Chinese economy, reform, and global politics. Examples of this include his discussions of reforms in China (in 1905 and throughout the collection), the opium trade (an expansive topic within the collection, notably in 1913 and 1914), his 1904 writings on the Russo-Japanese War, and his 1914 mentions of the Siege of Tsingtao and the implications and violence of WWI within China, and his extensive letters from 1918-1919 when James (and Ruth) worked in Russia and across Europe treating the wounded of WWI.

Series II: Writings

Series II contains published writings by Ruth, James, and George Ingram, as well as informal writings from George’s 1922 Asia trip. Ruth Ingram’s article in the Mission Dayspring provides the only detailed description within the collection on the Ingram family’s exile from Tongzhou and sheltering in the British Legation during the Boxer Rebellion. For images of this time, see Series V (Photographs), “The Siege in Peking” taken by C.A. Killie, a fellow missionary sheltering with the Ingrams. Series II also contains writings from George Ingram’s visit to the family in 1922. A close follower of global politics and advocate for Christian missions himself, George commentated in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on India and recorded his impressions of Korea and China. His brother, James’ years-long research and interest in the “Lost Tribe” of China, culminated in his written article in 1928. Further information regarding the “Lost Tribe” of China and James Ingram’s research can be found in Series I (Correspondence), particularly letters April 15, 1917 and June 30, 1918, and within Series IV (Personal Items and Memorabilia) “College Girl Finds Lost Tribe of Chinese,” New York Evening Journal, on Isabel Ingram.

Series III: Collected Materials

The collected materials within the Ingram Family Papers document the institutions the Ingrams worked with or were adjacent to in China, as well as their interests ranging from missions to cooking. Notable within the collection of assembled annual reports is the “Report on the Peiping Union Medical College,” 1942, which was sent to Ruth Ingram at her request while she awaited Miriam’s evacuation from China. The report describes the occupation and closure of the school during WWII. The collection, in addition to a hand-written cookbook most likely used by Myrtle in Series IV (Personal Items and Memorabilia), contains three cookbooks owned and used by Miriam Ingram Pratt and Isabel Ingram Mayer. Throughout her lifetime working as a nurse and medical educator in the United States, Ruth Ingram displayed a continued interest in the medical and artistic history of China, as represented in her collected articles. Two books within the collection, George Ingram's copy of Chinese Characteristics by Arthur H. Smith and Tientsin Scribbles by Clara M. Cushman, are available for reference and request in Divinity Special Collections.

Series IV: Personal Items and Memorabilia

Series IV contains miscellaneous collected papers and items of the Ingram family. The series begins with James’ written language practice dating from his earliest years in China in the late nineteenth century, and chronologically ends nearly a century later with materials related to the death of Miriam Ingram Pratt in 1987. Notable within Series IV are the extensive newspaper clippings James gathered and sent to George Ingram—mostly related to Chinese politics—and the newspaper articles written on the Ingram family, including several pictures in The Peiping Chronicle of James Ingram’s seventy-fifth birthday. Other personal items, such as the Peking Utility Book of the Peking International Women’s Club, several programs gathered from local events, and the “Map of Peking issued by the American Express Co.,” provide a window into the expat community of Beijing in the early twentieth century.

Series V: Photographs

Series V contains a sequence of images, “The Siege in Peking” from 1900, as well as images of James Ingram’s 1920 Mongolia trip. “The Siege in Peking” is an incomplete series of 32 mounted black and white photographs depicting the siege of the Legation Quarter in August 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion, taken by Charles A. Killie (1857 – 1916) of the American Presbyterian Mission. The images are digitized on the Historical Photographs of China website: https://www.hpcbristol.net/photographer/reverend-charles-killie-1857-1916 and archived within The National Archives, London and The Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia. James, Myrtle, Ruth, and Miriam Ingram are pictured in photograph No. 23. Further information related to the photographs of James Ingram’s trip to Mongolia can be found in his personal correspondence in Series I, July 30, 1920.

Dates

  • 1887 - 1986

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jane Packard Pratt (Sheeks), 2022.

Arrangement

Arrangement

  1. Correspondence, 1887 - 1944
  2. Writings, 1889 - 1928
  3. Collected Materials, 1897 - 1963
  4. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1887 - 1986
  5. Photographs, 1900 - 1920

Extent

3 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/divinity.325

Abstract

Extensive correspondence in the Ingram Family Papers provides insight into China in the early twentieth century with descriptions of missionary and medical activities over thirty years, including exile during the Boxer Rebellion, work in convalescent hospitals and famine refugee camps in the wake of World War I, views inside the Forbidden City in the last years of the Qing dynasty, and documentation of the expat culture of Beijing and repatriation amid the chaos of World War II.

Biographical / Historical

James Henry Ingram (1858-1934) was born in Ohio and received his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania. Leaving for China in 1887, Ingram was initially stationed in Tongzhou (Tungcho) as a medical missionary with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). He lived the rest of his life primarily in China and continued his work after 1912 with the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC). Ingram’s career spanned place and discipline—treating patients with a variety of diseases and ailments and teaching both therapeutics and later psychiatry at the PUMC. Late in his life, he pushed for the development of an insane asylum in North China and served as an expert witness within the Chinese law courts on mental illness. His work took him across China in 1920, gathering information on the conditions in famine refugee camps and across Siberia and into Europe with the Red Cross in 1918-1919 to treat the wounded of World War I.

Beyond his career in medical practice and teaching, Ingram worked as a supervisor of building projects for the ABCFM, a consultant for the Tungcho Dairy, and invented a delousing machine. As prolific translator himself, he taught at the Peking Language School, hypothesized about the relationship between Chinese and Ancient Sumerian, and traveled across China and Mongolia. In 1920 he wrote to his daughter Isabel, “I have been as far north as the middle of the Gobi Desert and as far south as Taimingfu; as far east as Peitaiho and as far west as the Trappist Monastery. I have been interested in the purchase of land and cattle. [I] have had to dodge sharpers in several directions.... doctored Mongols, Chinese, and foreigners...designed delousers and bathhouses for Famine Refugees...planned for opening an Insane Asylum and have been mountain climbing. Do you think my life is monotonous?”

Over the nearly half-century he lived in China, six children were born into the Ingram family. In 1891 James and his wife Sallie Voss Ingram gave birth to Ruth Ingram in Tongzhou. After Sallie’s death, while in the United States on furlough in 1894, James married Myrtle Bell Prough Ingram. While in China, Miriam (Ingram Pratt) was born in 1898, Isabel (Ingram Mayer) in 1902, Robert (Vinter Ingram) in 1904, Lewis (Fleetwood Ingram) in 1906, and Kathryn (Ingram Rowe) in 1911. Nell Ingram, sister of James and George, moved to China in 1915 to teach at Jefferson Academy, an ABCFM school in Beijing.

At breaks within James’ correspondence, the Ingram children fill in the family record. Ruth Ingram’s article, published in the Mission Dayspring (found in Series II of this collection), provides the only extensive account within the collection of the Ingram family’s flight from Tongzhou and shelter in the British Legation during the Boxer Rebellion in August 1900. Beginning in 1922 until the coup in 1924, Isabel (Ingram Mayer) worked as a tutor to Empress Wanrong. Her letters during this time provide a view into the court and high society of Beijing in the late Qing dynasty.

In 1931, Miriam and her three daughters Jane, Nancy, and Peggy moved from the United States to join James, Myrtle, Nell, and Isabel in Beijing. In 1934 James Ingram died in the Western Hills of Beijing. A year later, in 1935, Nell Ingram died in Beijing. As waves of Americans left China amidst the violence of World War II in 1941, Myrtle Ingram died in Beijing at the PUMC Hospital where her late husband had taught and three of her children had worked. Late during their years in China, Miriam worked at the PUMC as a dietician. As the last Ingram to leave China, Miriam wrote to her siblings in 1942. “So far no date for our coming evacuation,” she added, “[I] have taken the children to see the Temple of Heaven for the day twice... we hope to bring some atmosphere with us.”

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)”.

Title
Guide to the Ingram Family Papers
Author
Abigail Kromminga
Date
2022
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Dacs)

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