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Hayes Family Papers

Call Number: RG 18

Scope and Contents

These papers, dating from 1888 to 1994, provide vivid accounts of the missionary experiences of Paul and Helen Hayes (1921-1935), details of Paul's ministry after returning to the United States, and their family and social lives. Paul and Helen met, as they often quipped, "on a slow boat to China." Although sent under the auspices of different boards, their mutual devotion to mission work, shared theological ideals, and sheer enjoyment of each other's company cemented their relationship. They studied together at the University of Nanking Department of Missionary Training, dated frequently, and corresponded much while apart. After deciding to unite in marriage, Helen realized that she must transfer her affiliation from the Reformed Church Foreign Mission Board to the Methodist Episcopal Church Foreign Mission Board so that she could serve with her husband. Since the Methodist Board was obligated to pay the costs incurred by the Reformed Board for her service, Helen often teased Paul that she had been "bought and paid for like a Chinese bride." Due to the Depression in the United States, the Methodist Board could no longer support the Hayes' missionary work in China. They were asked to return to the States in 1935 and serve in the Methodist Church, first in Minneapolis, followed by an appointment in North Dakota, and back to Minnesota where they remained for the rest of their lives. Paul "retired" three times, but essentially continued to minister in various capacities until the disabilities associated with advancing age made it impossible.

The CORRESPONDENCE of Series I is valuable for its great detail and completeness. Arranged by main correspondent, the sections are divided by family and general letters. Letters sent by Paul and Helen to their families back home document their voyage to China, experiences with Chinese life, language and customs, their friendship, courtship and subsequent marriage and family life. Letters exchanged between Paul and Helen during their courtship and marriage reveal their deep affection for each other, which endured faithfully through sixty-six years of married life. Weekly correspondence with their adult daughters serves as a dialogue on family matters, ministry, social and political concerns, reminiscences of the past and plans for the future. Both Paul and Helen were attentive to detail in their writing, so their correspondence serves as the most complete record of their missionary service, ministry, and personal lives.

Paul's general correspondence constitutes his self-titled "Journal", consisting of copies of all the letters he sent and received every year from his youth to his death. The letters reveal his stance as a social and peace activist, and include correspondence with organizations to which he offered moral support and financial assistance. He corresponded with such political figures as Presidents Kennedy, Carter, and Reagan, Senators Eugene McCarthy, Hubert Humphrey , Alan Cranston, Edward Kennedy, Wendall Anderson, Walter Mondale, and Rudy Boschwitz, Representative Donald Fraser, and Congressman Martin Sabo. He did not hesitate to give credit where credit was due, or express displeasure over their decisions with which he disagreed. He supported such causes as world hunger, disaster relief, human rights, nuclear disarmament, handgun control, the Democratic Party, the Black Panther Party and gay/lesbian rights in the church. He opposed capital punishment, abortion, drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and mandatory retirement.

Series II, BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTATION, provides a subject-oriented approach to researching the Hayes family. Preserving his original arrangement, the series documents schools attended, mission work, churches served, places lived, trips/vacations taken, and special interests of Paul G. Hayes. While less material is available for Helen Hayes, her Midwest China Oral History Transcript provides valuable insight into her perspective of their China missionary experiences.

Paul Hayes' memoirs are a special attraction of the WRITINGS of Series III. Elsie Hayes Landstrom encouraged him to record these valuable memories and edited the manuscript extensively. It is a very valuable documentary of Paul's entire life. Also of interest are Paul's manuscript sermons, dating from 1907 to 1935 and 1961 to 1983.

Elsie also encouraged her mother to compile her memoirs, but this proved to be a difficult task for Helen, who was busy with duties at home and church and in declining health. Two notebooks, partially filled with her reminiscences, complement her husband's memoirs.

Elsie's talent for writing was discovered at an early age. Although she wrote for pleasure and profit throughout her life, her writings in this series constitute a sampling of her projects dating 1981-1991. They include the memoirs of Dr. Hyla Watters, which she edited, a story of the Hayes family in China, and an account of her return to the place of her birth in China.

Of interest among the family's collected items in Series IV, PERSONAL ITEMS AND MEMORABILIA, are Paul's glass slides of China, Helen's notes for talks she gave on China, and some of Elsie's collected research materials on Wuhu, China.

The photographs in Series V are largely identified.

The Hayes Family Papers are a valuable addition to the China Records Project at the Yale Divinity School Library. They complement other collections of China missionaries, particularly the papers of Albert and Celia Steward (RG 20), with whom they served in China from 1921-1935 and remained lifelong friends.


  • 1888-2005


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Elsie Hayes Landstrom and Lois Hayes Anderson, 1987.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1918-1991, n.d.
  2. II. Biographical Documentation, 1898-1994
  3. III. Writings, 1907-1991
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1888-1981
  5. V. Photograph Albums, 1890-1949


23 Linear Feet (59 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


These papers provide detailed accounts of the life and work of the Hayes family in China during a turbulent time, as well as documenting their post-China experiences. Paul and Helen Wolf Hayes were missionaries serving under the Methodist Episcopal Church in Wuhu, Anhui (Anhwei) Province and Zhenjiang (Chinkiang), Jiangsu (Kiangsu) Province from 1921 to 1935. Following their return to the United States, Paul Hayes had pastorates in Minnesota and North Dakota. Their daughter, Elsie Hayes Landstrom, was born in China; she wrote and edited various works related to the work of her parents and other Methodist missionaries.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology of Paul G. Hayes

1890 September 1
Born at 558 N. Queen Street, Lancaster, PA. Son of Zachariah T. Hayes (1849 September 17-1901 April 1) and Emma Amelia (Goodman) Hayes (1857 March 17-1919 October 23). One sister, Rhoda Amelia Hayes (1892 September 7-1973 September 25, never married)
Dropped out of public school to help support mother and sister. Worked as office boy, then bookkeeper, Lebzelter Bending Works, Lancaster, PA
First attended the Gospel Mission in Lancaster (predecessor to Union Gospel Mission and Water St. Mission); made decision to dedicate his life to Christ
Union Missionary Training Institute, Brooklyn, NY
Franklin Marshall Academy, Lancaster, PA
Franklin Marshall College, Lancaster, PA: B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, Marshall oration (highest honor)
Superintendent, Water Street Mission, Lancaster (reorganized, with others, 1915; started rescue services with Herman Molin, 1917)
Student pastor, Ross Street Methodist Church, Lancaster (founded, with others, 1916)
1917 September 8
Married Mary Elizabeth Zwally (died 1918, flu epidemic)
Student Pastor, Linden Methodist Church, Malden, MA
Boston University School of Theology, S.T.B.
Student Pastor, Fremont Congregational Church, Fremont, NH
B.U.S.T. graduate studies toward Ph D.
1921 August 10
Sailed for China on the Korea Maru from San Francisco, under the auspices of the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Met Helen Mae Wolf, Reformed Church missionary, aboard ship
Nanking Language School at the University of Nanking
1922 June 13
Married Helen Mae Wolf (1896 November 8-1988 July 19). Children: Elsie Rhoda, born 1923 June 22 at Guling (Kuling), on Lushan, Jiangxi (Kiangsi), China and Lois Anne, born 1931 November 8 at Wuhu, China.
First term in Wuhu, Anhui (Anhwei), China
Union Theological Seminary graduate studies
Hartford Seminary Foundation, continuing studies toward Ph.D.; completed all but dissertation; took materials to China to write dissertation, but never had the time. Summer pastor at Clinton (CT) Methodist Episcopal Church
Served at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, Windsor Locks, CT
Second Term in China
In Zhenjiang (Chinkiang)
In Wuhu
Associate Pastor, Simpson Methodist Church, Minneapolis, MN
Pastor, Calvary Methodist Church, Minneapolis, MN
Pastor, McCabe Methodist Church, Bismarck, ND; Member Board of Ministerial Training, Board of Missions, North Dakota Conference, Dean Summer School Ministerial Training, 1947, 1948
Honorary Doctor of Divinity, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, with which Wesley College, Fargo, affiliated
Pastor, First Methodist Church, Albert Lea, MN
District Superintendent, Minnesota Southeast District
Directorates of Rochester Methodist Hospital, Rochester, MN; Paul Watkins Memorial Methodist Home, Winona, MN (founded, with others, 1958); Old Frontenac Point Camp, Frontenac, MN; Fellowship Methodist Church, Austin, MN (founded, with others, 1958); Methodist Hospital, Minneapolis (1963-1966)
Associate Pastor, Lake Harriet Methodist Church, Minnneapolis
Associate Pastor, Hamline United Methodist Church, St. Paul, MN. Retired to work on memoirs (1977)
1987 February 11
Entered Walker Methodist Residence Health Care Center
1994 March 1
Died at Walker Methodist Health Care Center

Consolidated from a chronology compiled by Elsie H. Landstrom, 1987 October 30. (See: Box 33, Folder 429)

Chronology of Helen Wolf Hayes

1896 November 8
Born in Bethlehem, PA. Seventh of fourteen children of Samuel Fackenthal and Ida (Bryan) Wolf.
Missionary training courses at Hartford Seminary Foundation
Lehigh University Extension Courses; taught public school in Nazareth, PA
Helen Mae Wolf Missionary Society was formed to support her work in China through the efforts of friends in the St. Andrews Reformed Church in Allentown, PA, where Helen was an active member
1921 August 10
Sailed for China on Korea Maru from San Francisco, under auspices of the Board of Missions of the Reformed Church in the U.S. Met Paul G. Hayes, Methodist missionary, aboard ship.
1922 June 13
Married Paul G. Hayes (1890 September 1-1994 March 1). Children: Elsie Rhoda, born 1923 June 22 at Guling (Kuling), on Lushan, Jiangxi (Kiangsi), China and Lois Anne, born 1931 November 8 at Wuhu, China.
Transferred to Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church
First term in Wuhu, Anhui (Anhwei), China
Studied Chinese at Nanking Language School, University of Nanking
Studied at Columbia University Teachers' College
Studied at Hartford Seminary Foundation
Second Term in China: In China, Helen taught English in the Wuhu Primary School for one year, in the Chinkiang Girls High School for one year and in the Wuhu General Hospital School of Nursing for several years. She held teas and Bible study classes for groups of local women, and conducted a small school for missionary children in her home using the Calvert system for six years. She served as Adviser to the interdenominational Women's Club of Wuhu and helped them open an orphanage, The Hole in The Wall, for girl babies of poor families who otherwise would have been allowed to die.
In Zhenjiang (Chinkiang)
In Wuhu
Northern Minnesota Conference
Simpson Methodist Church, Minneapolis
Calvary Methodist Church, Minneapolis
North Dakota Conference
McCabe Methodist Church, Bismarck
Minnesota Southeast Conference
First Methodist Church, Albert Lea
Southeast District, based in Rochester
Lake Harriet Methodist Church, Minneapolis
Hamline United Methodist Church, St. Paul: In these Conferences of the Methodist Church, where Paul held a number of pastorates, Helen played an active role in his ministry and church life. She entertained in their home, sang in the choir, did youth work, taught church school and gave talks on China. She held leadership positions in the Minneapolis Branch of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, Women's Society of Christian Service, United Church Women and in the PEO and DAR. She served as Secretary of Missionary Projects and of Spiritual Life.
1987 February 11
Entered Walker Methodist Residence Health Care Center
1988 July 18
Died at the Walker Residence, Minneapolis, MN

Chronology of Elsie Hayes Landstrom

1923 June 22
Born at Guling (Kuling), on Lushan, Jiangxi (Kiangsi), China, first daughter of Paul G. and Helen Wolf Hayes
Spent first 12 years of life in China; tutored at home by mother according to the Calvert plan
Attended public schools in Minneapolis, MN; 1941 honors graduate of North High School
Attended Hamline University, St. Paul, MN as Drew Scholar. B.A., magna cum laude, 1941. English teaching major, Social Science Psychology minors
1945 June 16
Married Harry V. Hines (divorced 1951)
Worked in publications research and production at a research bureau in Philadelphia, and briefly on a dictionary compiled at the University of Pennsylvania
Writer/editor for American Friends Service Committee (Quaker relief and service agency) in Philadelphia
Writer/editor of non-technical materials for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Laboratory
1953 January 21
Married Norman Landstrom (1913 December 8-1989 October 17), attorney. Children: Peter S. (born 1954 April 21) and Ruth H. (born 1956 November 7)
Continued writing on a volunteer basis, while devoting the majority of her time to her family. Her projects included writing a monthly newsletter for 7 years, writing and publishing about 50 poems, and providing editorial assistance to others. She taught "First Day School" in the Wellesley Friends Meeting and was a member of the Wider Quaker Fellowship and the Friends Committee on Religion and Psychology. She designed and supervised the building of their home in Conway, MA
Senior Editor, The Word Guild, Inc.
Devoted time to many writing projects, including editing the memoirs of her father and Dr. Hyla Watters

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)”.

Guide to the Hayes Family Papers
Compiled by Joan R. Duffy
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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