Morse Family Papers: William Reginald and Anne Crosse Morse
Scope and Contents
This collection provides valuable documentation of the life and work of medical missionary William Reginald Morse and his wife Anne (Anna) Crosse Kinney Morse, who served under the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society in China from 1909 to 1937. Very detailed and substantive correspondence describes the daily life and work of the Morses, their travels, and the turbulent political and social situation in China during this era. Based primarily Chengdu, Sichuan Province and at the West China Union University, the Morses also spent time in Shanghai and other areas.
The Morse Family Papers acquired by Yale in 2014 have been divided into two sections. This collection at the Yale Divinity LIbrary includes papers of William Reginald Morse and Anna Crosse Kinney Morse while the Morse Family Papers: Marjorie Morse and Photographs are held by the Medical Historical Library.
The first series, Family Correspondence, includes many multi-paged letters from Dr. and Mrs. Morse to relatives in Nova Scotia and, after 1927, to their daughter Marjorie (born in 1913 in China) while she was attending an American high school, Wellesley College, and Yale Nursing School. These letters describe events such as the Morse family's 1909 initial long trip, traveling 1,800 miles inland from Shanghai, perilous travels by boat and by train, assistance to rural Chinese and military casualties caused by the fighting between Chinese warlords, the growth of Communism, and the Morses' religious, professional, and social interactions with the overall missionary and Chinese Christian community.
The second series, General Correspondence, includes primarily letters of condolence written to Anna Morse following the death of Dr. Morse in November 1939.
The third series, Writings and Notes, includes papers written by Dr. Morse including a medical report, two articles, and an essay regarding Chinese medicine and his medical work. This series also includes a book review of Morse's work "The Three Crosses in the Purple Mist" and several handwritten notes.
The fourth series, Personal Items and Memorabilia, includes biographical documentation regarding Dr. Morse, a friendship calendar with notes and photographs from supporters, and other memorabilia.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased in cooperation with the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Medical Library of Yale University in 2014.
- I. Family Correspondence
- II. General Correspondence
- III. Writings and Notes
- IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia
2 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Language of Materials
Medical missionary William Reginald Morse and his wife Anne (Anna) Crosse Kinney Morse served under the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society in China from 1909 to 1937. Substantive correspondence describes the daily life and work of the Morses, their travels, medical practice and education in China, and the turbulent political and social situation in China during this era. The Morses were based primarily Chengdu, Sichuan Province and at the West China Union University.
Biographical / Historical
Dr. William Reginald Morse (1874-1939) was born August 30, 1874 in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, Canada, the son of Ellen Marry Fitch and Leander Rupert Morse. He received his medical degree from McGill University in 1902 and later did postgraduate work at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University College of London, receiving a B.A., M.D., C.M, F.A.C.S., L.L.D, and F.R.G.S.
Dr. Morse practiced medicine in Rhode Island and Nova Scotia before being appointed in 1909 as medical missionary to China serving under the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society with his wife, Anna Crosse Kinney Morse (1875-1951), whom he had married in 1903. The Morses had one daughter, Marjorie, born in 1913.
Upon arrival in China the Morses traveled to Sichuan Province, West China, where Dr. Morse worked at a small missionary hospital for a few years. In 1914 Morse was sent to the provincial capital, Chengdu, where he helped found a medical school at West China Union University, an institution supported by various Protestant mission agencies. He was elected as Dean of the WCUU Medical School in 1919, Director of the College of Medicine and Dentistry in 1935, and was Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at West China Union University until his retirement in 1937. Dr. Morse also held positions at the Baptist College, and the Methodist Hospital in Chengdu. He served at the Hankow International Hospital during the revolution of 1911-1912 and at Lingnan University in Guangzhou (Canton) from 1927 to 1928.
In addition to his medical practice, Morse published five works relating to the history and practice of medicine in China and Tibet, including "The Practices and Principles of Chinese Medicine" and "A Memorandum on the Chinese Procedure of Acupuncture" in 1926. His major work was "The Three Crosses In The Purple Mists;: An Adventure In Medical Education Under The Eaves Of The Roof Of The World", published in 1928. Morse also did research and writing in the field of anthropology, publishing, for example an article titled "Schedule of Physical Anthropological Measurements and Observations on Ten Ethnic Groups of Szechwan Province, West China" in the Journal of the West China Border Research Society in 1937. Morse was the first president of the West China Border Research Society, and did much to maintain interest in its growth and development. He served as a research associate at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University in 1930-1931.
Dr. Morse passed away in the United States in November 1939.
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 Morse Family Papers: William Reginald and Anne Crosse Kinney Morse
- Compiled by Morgan Gagne and Martha Lund Smalley
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository
409 Prospect Street
New Haven CT 06511 US