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Leonard and Marjorie Caldwell Papers

Call Number: RG 217

Scope and Contents

Although the Caldwells were in China for less than five years, this collection provides an excellent snapshot of many aspects of the life and work of missionaries. Early letters from Leonard to Marjorie deal with the decision to go to China immediately after their marriage and the concerns of Marjorie's parents. Later letters from the summer of 1925 provide detailed descriptions of Leonard's surveying trip in the Lushan countryside. Marjorie's letters to friends in the U.S. give insight into the daily life of a missionary wife and mother. Typed transcripts of these letters have been prepared by the Caldwells' granddaughter Polly Caldwell. The Caldwells kept in touch with various Nanking missionary colleagues after their return to the U.S. and received letters describing their activities. A diary for 1922, written jointly by Leonard and Marjorie, provides a very detailed day-by-day account of their activities, including Leonard's teaching at the University of Nanking, Marjorie's daily activities, and their Chinese language study. A typed transcript is also available for this diary. The transcript of an oral history interview conducted with Marjorie in 1983 provides additional detailed information about her time in China. Well-identified photographs document a Chinese home, fishing, housing, and other subjects. Collected material includes religious tracts in Chinese and information about the University of Nanking.


  • 1921-1983


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 Polly Caldwell, 2008


  1. Series I: Correspondence,1921-1942
  2. Series II: Writings and Notes, ca. 1942, n.d.
  3. Series III: Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1921-1983


1 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


This collection consists of personal letters, a diary, oral history transcript, printed material, photographs, and memorabilia dating primarly from 1921 to 1926 when Leonard Caldwell was teaching math and physics at the University of Nanking. Caldwell, a Yale graduate, worked as a civil engineer in the U.S. following his return from China. Marjorie Caldwell was a librarian, as well as missionary wife and mother.

Biographical / Historical


1894 Jan 29
Leonard Hathaway Caldwell born in Jacksonville, FL.
1895 Jun 29
Marjorie Russell Rockwood born in Franklin, MA.
LHC graduated from Yale University, Sheffield Scientific School, PhB in Civil Engineering with honors.
LHC did one year of postgraduate work in Sanitary Engineering at Yale.
1917Dec-1919 Jul
LHC served in the U.S. Army, Co. K., 23rd Corps of Engineers, A.E.F. in France.
MRR graduated from Simmons College, BS in Library Science.
MRR worked as a library first in Williamstown, MA and from 1919 to 1921 Jul 31 in New Haven, CT.
1920 Fall
LHC entered Yale School of Religion.
1921 Sep 5
LHC and MRR were married and departed immediately for China.
1921 Oct - 1926Jun
LHC taught at the University of Nanking, initially as head of the Physics department. He also taught math, geology, engineering/surveying.
While in Nanking, MRRC served primarily as a missionary wife, and gave birth to three sons. She also taught a YMCA English conversation course, started a book-reading circle with Pearl Buck and other women in Nanking, and served the libraries of the University of Nanking and Ginling College. The Caldwells lived with the Bucks when they first arrived in Nanking.
LHC worked for Atlanta, GA Contruction Department.
LHC worked for Aerotopograph Corporation of America, Washington, DC.
LHC worked for U.S. Corps of Engineers research unit in Dayton, OH.
LHC worked for Multi-plex Mapping Section of United States Engineers District Office in Little Rock, AR.
LHC was in private practice.
MRRC returned to work as a librarian in Little Rock, AR.
1957 Jul 13
LHC died in Little Rock, AR.
1990 Jul 20
MRRC died in Seattle, WA.

See Box 1, Folder 8 for more detailed biographical information.

Guide to the Leonard and Marjorie Caldwell Papers
Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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