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Daniel Webster Crofts Papers

Call Number: RG 240

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily consists of regular, detailed letters written by Daniel Webster Crofts or his second wife Mabel Harlow Crofts to the four Crofts children who from an early age were separated from their parents at boarding school in Chefoo, and then in the U.S. The original format letters in the collection are complemented by scans of some additional documents, as well as the detailed, scholarly biography of Crofts written by his grandson Daniel Webster Crofts, a copy of which is in the Divinity Library's cataloged collection. Series I, Correspondence, is primarily family correspondence with a few folders of non-family letters. Series II, Writings, contains clippings of articles written by Daniel Crofts for the North-China Herald. Series III, Biographical Documentation, contains a few documents regarding the Crofts family and Crofts' wives. Much more detailed information is available in the biography noted above.


  • 1892-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1892 - 1950


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Daniel Wallace Crofts, 2011


  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Writings
  3. III. Biographical Documentation


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Letters and writings document the life and work of Daniel Webster Crofts, an American missionary serving under the China Inland Mission, primarily in Guizhou Province, China from 1895 to 1944. Detailed letters written to the Crofts children describe the evangelization and literature distribution work of Crofts and his first wife Verna Hammarén Crofts and his second wife Mabel Harlow Crofts, as well as their way of life in a rural area beset by famine, and political disruption.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology of Daniel Webster Crofts

1866 Aug 20
Daniel Webster Crofts born in Ohio, son of John Byron Crofts and Hannah Kane Crofts. The Crofts had eleven children, ten of whom survived to adulthood: sons Frank, Daniel, Will, Rob, Jim, Tom and daughters Jennie, Ada, Minnie, and Mary.
Graduated from Muskingum College
Graduated from Chicago Theological Seminary
While working as minister for a congregation in Peoria, Illinois, applied to become missionary of China Inland Mission.
1895 Dec 16
Arrived in Shanghai, having left Tacoma, Washington in November, and stopping in Japan. Began language study.
1896 - 1901
Stationed in Laohekou, Hubei Province
1899 Nov
Married Verna Hammarén, a missionary sponsored by the Free Church of Finland working under the direction of the China Inland Mission
1900 Sep 13
Son John born in Shanghai where Verna had evacuated due to Boxer Rebellion. Daniel arrived in Shanghai in November.
After being refugees in Shanghai for several months, lived in Yangzhou and Zhenjiang before returning to Laohekou
1902 Feb 8
Daughter Verna born in Hankou. Shortly thereafter the family went on furlough, first to Finland and then to the U.S.
1903 August 2
Son Alfred born in Oakland, California. Shortly thereafter the family returned to China, arriving in Shanghai in September
1904 Apr
Established new CIM mission in Zhenyuan, Guizhou Province. Crofts' missionary work involved itinerations through countryside to preach and sell books.
1906 Sep 20
Daughter Saima born.
1908 - 1911
Crofts contributed reports and columns to the North-China Herald
Son John and daughter Verna traveled to boarding school at Chefoo School in Yantai, Shandong, accompanied by wife Verna and son Alfred. Verna died in Chefoo from dysentery and weak heart. Daniel traveled to Chefoo and spent winter with children before returning to Guizhou.
Saima joined her older siblings at Chefoo School, having earlier lived with a missionary family in Panghai following her mother's death.
Crofts worked with fellow missionary M. H. Hutton in Panghai, using it as a base to work with Black Miao people.
Escorted son John to U.S. to enroll him in college, returning to China in fall of 1918
1919 Aug
Married Mabel Harlow, CIM missionary based in Chefoo. They returned to Guizhou, stationed in Zunyi, while two middle children went to U.S. and Saima remained at Chefoo.
Opened new mission station in Qianxi, in northwest Guizhou.
Furlough in U.S.
Following furlough, Daniel and Mabel Crofts initially stayed in Shanghai, due to political disturbances in the interior, but in July 1928 moved to Zhenjiang and from late 1928 were stationed in Qanxi. In 1935-1936 the approach of Communist troops caused them to evacuate from Qanxi to Sichuan Province.
Furlough in the U.S.
1938 Nov-1944
Returned to China and were stationed in Qianxi, Guizhou
1942 Feb
Mabel Crofts died of typhoid
Daniel Crofts left China and after visiting various relatives settled in Florida
1960 Jun 14
Crofts died

For additional biographical information see book published by Crofts' grandson Daniel W. Crofts: Upstream Odyssey: An American in China, 1895-1944 (Norwalk, CT: Eastbridge, 2008).

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 Daniel Webster Crofts Papers
Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
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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