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Cai Yongchun Papers

Call Number: RG 205

Scope and Contents

The writings and correspondence in this collection provide insight into Cai Yongchun's life and work and into conditions in China during the Cultural Revolution. Much of the material is in Chinese. The documents in Series I through VI were organized and described by Michael Poon of Trinity Theological College and given to the Yale Divinity School Library by request of Cai's daughters in 2006. Cai and his wife were close friends of the George and Dorothy Barbour family and the Barbour's son Hugh wrote a biographical sketch of Cai, published by the Yale Divinity School Library in 2000. Series VII, added in 2010, consists of materials collected by Hugh Barbour in preparation for writing his biography of Cai, Ts'ai Yung-chu'un's Life and Work: Fully Chinese and Fully Christian.


  • 1924-2002


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 Joan Hongyu & Dorothy Liangyu Cai, 2006


  1. I. Writings and Notes of Cai Yongchun, 1930-1987
  2. II. Biographical Documentation, 1945-1985
  3. III. Correspondence, 1925-1997
  4. IV. Writings about Cai Yongchun, 1983-2002
  5. V. Personal Items and Memorabilia, n.d.
  6. VI. Materials of Huang Xiuying (wife), 1931-1996
  7. VII. Research Files of Hugh Barbour, 1924-2002


6.75 Linear Feet (16 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, and research materials by and about Cai Yongchun (Ts'ai Yung-ch'un) (1904-1983), provide insight into the life and work of a Chinese scholar, educator, and theologian, and into conditions in China during the Cultural Revolution.

Biographical / Historical

Cai Yongchun (Ts'ai Yung-ch'un) was born of Christian parents on March 16, 1904 in Jinjing near Xiamen (Amoy) in South Fujian (Fukien) province. He attended Yenching University but became ill with tuberculosis, and was compelled to return to Fujian for treatment. He was in Hungling Hospital from September 1926 to January 1927. By July 1928, Cai had moved to Guangzhou (Canton) for his health and continued his studies at Lingnan University. In September 1929, he returned to Yenching to study sociology, and wrote a thesis on China’s population that won him election to Phi Tau Phi and Phi Beta Kappa. While at Yenching he assisted missionary Dorothy Barbour in writing two books. He continued his studies at Yenching School of Religion. During 1936-1938 Cai and his wife Huang Xiuying (Hsiu ying) were back in Fujian where he taught Church History and the life of Jesus, while she taught Psychology at Minnan (also known as South Fujian) Theological College in Xiamen (Amoy). In 1938, Cai was imprisoned by the Japanese for a time and when Xiamen (Amoy) was occupied by the Japanese, the Cai family retired to Xuiying’s family home in Hong Kong, and they served on the faculty of Canton Union Theological College. From 1937 to 1939, ten million Chinese migrated westward to escape Japanese rule and the ravaging of Shanghai, Nanjing, and Guangzhou. The Canton Theological College joined the trek to Yunnan. Cai, though also teaching at the Seminary and Central China College, took on as his main work initiating a mission among the Petso people, called by Han Chinese Minzhia (Min chia) in the valley from Dali northward and in the surrounding hills. A sociologist as well as a missionary, Cai was able to make a script for Minzhia, for the first time, he believed. Cai’s health prevented him from going with the seminary when it moved back to northern Guangdong province.

From 1942 to 1943, Cai was Lecturer for the Church of Christ in China in their Kunming church. He then accepted the post of chaplain at the Church Missionary Society's Huidian Hospital in Kunming. Cai was still in Kunming in 1946, when a letter came from T. C. Chao, inviting him to teach Comparative Religion at the newly reconstituted Yenching School of Religion, and to prepare himself for it by study in England or America. Cai studied at Columbia University and Union Seminary in New York City during 1946-1947. Cai’s M.A. thesis was written in the same academic year under Reischauer and Rev. R. H. L. Slater of Cambridge University on "Tali Funeral Rites: Study in ‘Ancestor Worship’ and his degree was granted in May 1947. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1950. Cai returned to China but his plans to teach at the Yenching School of Religion were disrupted by the Communist takeover. He was unemployed for four years, 1952 to 1956. During this time he translated several books and papers at home, including China Belongs to God. From 1956 to 1961 he taught at Northeastern Peoples’ University in Changchun, Jilin. In the winter of 1969, after the Zhen bao incident on China’s northeast border with Russia Jilin faculty was dispersed into the countryside. The Cais were sent to Helong, a village of 100 families in Kirin province, near the Korean border, where life was very arduous. He later returned to Jilin and officially retired in 1975. In 1978 he began to edit and compile an anthology of New Testament passages, which was published only in 1992 after his death. In 1979, Cai was publicly rehabilitated and reinstated as professor in Jilin, from which he returned in 1980 to live with his daughter in Tianjin and Beijing. He died in 1983.

For more detailed biographical information see Ts'ai Yung-chu'un's Life and Work: Fully Chinese and Fully Christian, by Hugh Barbour, Yale Divinity School Library Occasional Publication No. 14.
Guide to the Cai Yongchun Papers
Martha Lund Smalley
2006, 2010, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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