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Walter and Ruth Marie Taylor Papers

Call Number: RG 251

Scope and Contents

These papers tell the story of a young missionary architect sent to China by the Episcopal Church. Enroute he meets a young American woman in England and they eventually begin a long distance courtship that leads to her coming to China to be married. Though the time period served by Walter Taylor in China was brief, his letters and writings provide valuable insight into missionary life and his work as an architect. Series I includes Family Correspondence - letters written by Walter and Ruth Marie to their families, and to each other. Series II includes a small amount of non-family correspondence, including letters to/from fellow missionaries. The Writings of Series III include published articles by Taylor about missionary architecture in China, as well as his five-year diary covering the period of his service in China. Series IV, Personal Items and Memorabilia contains various clippings and ephemera that illustrate the events and lifestyle of the missionaries. Series V includes photographs not only of the Taylors but also of some of the buildings he designed.

Filed in the first folder are two copies of a DVD containing scans of letters, documents, and photos included in the collection.


  • 1923-1954


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Kenneth W. Taylor and Mark Taylor.


  1. I. Family Correspondence, 1923-1926
  2. II. General Correspondence, 1926-1927
  3. III. Writings, 1924-1954
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1923-1926
  5. V. Photographs, 1924-1926, no date


2 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


Letters, writings, and photographs document the life and work of Walter Taylor as an Episcopal missionary architect based in Wuhan, Central China from 1923 to 1927. Taylor's long distance courtship of his future wife Ruth Marie Smith, her eventual voyage to China to marry him in 1926, and their life in China during a politically turbulent time are well documented.

Biographical / Historical

Walter Andrews Taylor (1899 - 1963) graduated from Ohio State University in 1922, a member of Tau Beta Pi. He was appointed by the Episcopal Church to serve as an architect in China. Enroute, while traveling in England, he met his future wife Ruth Marie Smith, who eventually joined him in China in 1926 to be married. Taylor was based in Wuchang, Wuhan, Hubei province, in central China from 1924 until 1927. When the 1926 Siege of Wuchang forced the evacuation of the missionaries, the Taylors stayed at the Kuling Mountain missionary retreat through the siege but were ordered to leave China in 1927. Taylor and his wife returned to the U.S. where he worked in the office of Hobart Upjohn, NYC and was a Lecturer at Columbia University. From 1936 to 1946 he was a Professor in the Deparatment of Architecture of Syracuse University. From 1946 to 1959 he was Director of the Department of Education and Research at American Institute of Architects. From 1959 to 1963 he was Dean of the School of Architecture, Ohio University.

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 Walter and Ruth Marie Taylor Papers
Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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