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Anna and Stanley Wilson Papers

Call Number: RG 220

Scope and Contents

Series I - V of this collection primarily document the life and work of Anna Lane Wilson in China from 1918-1923. Detailed letters to family in the United States document her voyage to China, missionary life, Chinese customs and celebrations, dress, architecture, the flu epidemic, climate and relations/conflicts between Japan and China. Most of the letters are from before Anna's marriage to Stanley Wilson in 1923 and the subsequent births of their daughters Helen and Marian. Many of the letters in the collection have been transcribed by Anna Lane Wilson's daughter Helen Wilson Saunders. The transcriptions are available in printed form, filed with the originals, and also on a CD.

In addition to family correspondence, there is a small amount of general correspondence primarily to/from Stanley Wilson. Journals of Anna Lane Wilson from 1918-1919 and 1923 describe her voyage to China, her first year of work and a return trip to the United States. Collected material primarily relates to Peking University, later known as Yenching University.

Photographs in Series V include documentation of North China Union Woman's College, Yenching University, Peking Union Medical College and the Beijing area.

Series VI, Addendum, represents papers of Anna and Stanley Wilson that had been donated to the Library at an earlier times and were previously included in Record Group 8, China Records Project Miscellaneous Personal Papers. The correspondence in Series VI is primarily from a later period and documents Stanley Wilson's period of separation from his family during the Sino-Japanese war, including his internment by the Japanese. Also included are scientific writings of Wilson and documentation relating to Yenching University at the time of the Communist takeover in 1948-1949.

Additional documentation related to the work of Stanley and Anna Wilson at Yenching University is located in YDSL Record Group No. 11, Archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.


  • 1892-1951
  • Majority of material found within 1918 - 1923


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Ownership and copyright have been transferred to Yale University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Helen Wilson Saunders, 2009


  1. I. Family Correspondence, 1918-1935
  2. II. General Correspondence, 1920-1923
  3. III. Journals, 1918-1923
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1892-1948
  5. V. Photographs, 1919-1951
  6. VI. Addendum, 1917-1950


2.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


This collection documents the life and work of Anna Lane Wilson and Stanley Wilson, who were missionaries in China from 1917 to 1949, primarily serving at Yenching University. Of particular note are Anna Wilson's letters to family in the United States and journals document her voyage to China, missionary life, Chinese customs and celebrations, dress, architecture, the flu epidemic, climate, and political events.

Biographical / Historical

Anna Marie Lane Wilson (1892-1981) served as a missionary to China under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions from 1919 to 1949. Leaving for China in September 1918, she taught Biology, Chemistry and other subjects at the North China Union Woman's College for five years and then, in 1923, married Stanley Davis Wilson.

Stanley Wilson(1881-1970) was professor of Chemistry at the Peking Union Medical College (supported by the Rockefeller Foundation). Shortly later, the Wilsons moved to the newly formed Yenching University outside Beijing (Peking), where they lived and worked until interrupted by World War II in 1941. They were on furlough in the United States in 1924-1925. Stanley Wilson did not go to China as a missionary, but after he married Anna Lane and began his work at Yenching University, he was supported by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In accordance with the custom at the time, Anna Lane no longer taught at the University following her marriage.

Stanley Wilson was interned by the Japanese and repatriated half way through the war in a prisoner exchange. After the war the Wilsons returned to Yenching where they worked for another three years and were there during the takeover by the Communist regime, finally returning to California and retirement in 1949.

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 Anna and Stanley Wilson Papers
Martha Lund Smalley
2010, 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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