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Campbell Family Papers

Call Number: RG 7

Scope and Contents

The papers, which span the years 1855 to 1972, chronicle two generations of Baptist missionary effort in South China, and afford glimpses into the generations which preceded this endeavor. It should be noted that the Papers generally tend to document most heavily the lives of George and Jennie Campbell, and their daughters, Louise and Dorothy. Some members of the family are represented by a minimal amount of material.

Correspondence, the first series in the Papers, spans four generations, from George and Jennie Campbell's parents to their grandchildren. However, the bulk of the material was written by members of the two missionary generations.

Each of the eight Campbell children is represented in this series. The letters of Kenneth Campbell to his parents while he attended the China Inland Mission Boy's School at Yantai (Chefoo), North China from 1909 to 1912 are of particular interest. Later letters of Louise and Dorothy Campbell reflect war-time conditions in China Louise, Miriam, Kenneth, Dorothy, and David exchanged letters frequently in their old age.

Diaries and Notebooks, the largest series in the Campbell Family Papers, is composed of the material of five individuals: (1) Thomas Philpot Campbell - one diary, kept from 1855 to 1857, which contains accounts of his travels. (2) George Campbell - many diaries, notebooks, autograph books, etc. These sources chronicle the missionary's life from his youth in Illinois, to China, and old age. The material spans the years from 1874 to 1927. (3) Jennie W. Campbell - several diaries, guest books, birthday books, etc. Her earliest diary, written from 1881 to 1882 while at Mt. Carroll Seminary for Girls in Illinois, may be of particular interest. Her material dates from 1879 to 1939, although there is a gap in diary keeping from 1882 to 1927. (4) Louise Campbell - extensive diary kept from 1895 to 1967 with few interruptions. Notebooks, date books, account books, etc. comprise the remainder of her material. (5) Dorothy Campbell - extensive personal diaries and notebooks recorded from 1908 to 1966, with few exceptions.

Writings, the third series, is also the smallest. Autobiographical accounts of Jennie and Dorothy Campbell are of interest. The bulk of the material in this series was penned by Dorothy Campbell in conjunction with her continuing education in psychology and writing.

All the material is in manuscript form, with the exception of two copies of a 1957 Church publication which contains writings by both Miriam C. Joyce and David Campbell.

Personal Items and Memorabilia, the final series, contains a variety of material. Extensive biographical material, including the Genealogy of the Descendents of George and Jennie Campbell prepared by David Campbell, is located at the beginning of the series.

The material of George Campbell includes several folders pertaining to the genealogy of the Campbell family and development of the milk goat industry--both of his retirement hobbies.

A small amount of printed material is housed within this section. A 1929 Chinese piracy incident, which directly involved Jennie, Louise, and Dorothy Campbell, made national headlines and is located with other over-sized material.

A separate section of Photographs contains material dating from the Civil War to the 1970s. Photographs of George and Jennie Campbell prior to their courtship and scenes of China are of special interest. Life at the China Inland Mission School in Yantai (Chefoo), North China between 1909 and 1912 is also depicted. Thornton Wilder, noted author and playwright, is in one of the group photos.


  • 1855-1972


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Campbell family


  1. I. Correspondence, 1800s-1972
  2. II. Diaries and Notebooks, 1855-1968
  3. III. Writings, 1880-1972
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1868-1972

Related Materials

The Campbell Family Papers complement the papers of the Foster Family, Record Group No. 1. Two generations of the families were friends and co-workers in South China.


13 Linear Feet (31 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers document two generations of Baptist missionary effort in South China. Extensive biographical and autobiographical material gives insight into the personal lives of the Campbells. Conditions in China during World War II are reflected in the letters of Louise and Dorothy Campbell. The Campbells were a family of missionaries in China. George Campbell and his wife, Jennie Wortman Campbell served in South China (1887-1916). Four of their eight children continued missionary efforts. Louise Campbell, principal of the Kwong Yit Girls' School, Meihsien, Guangdong (Kwangtung) Province, worked for 40 years among the Hakka people, as did her sister, Margaret Larue Campbell Burket and Margaret's husband, Everett S. Burket from 1916-1946. Dorothy McBride Campbell served in China from 1926-1944, as did David Miles Campbell from 1926-1942.

Biographical / Historical

The marriage of Jennie Wortman and George Campbell marked the beginning of two generations of Baptist missionary effort, first in the United States and later in China. The products of deeply religious families, both had decided independently to become missionaries prior to meeting. In turn, four of the couple's eight children continued the missionary efforts. As detailed biographical information regarding each member of this large family was prepared by Dorothy Campbell and is available in Series IV, folders 3-12, only brief sketches will be given here. (In addition, autobiographical information regarding Jennie W. Campbell and Dorothy M. Campbell is located in Series III, folders 4, 8, 15, 16, and 17.)

Born in 1855 at St. Charles, Illinois, George Campbell spent most of his boyhood and early youth in Delavan, Illinois where his father was a Baptist minister from 1872 to 1885. St. Charles, Illinois is located thirty miles west of Chicago. Delavan, Illinois is thirty miles south of Peoria. Both parents, Thomas Philpot Campbell and Marian Packer Campbell, were educated, transplanted Easterners. (It is interesting to note that Thomas Philpot Campbell offered himself for missionary service, ultimately to be rejected on the grounds of his wife's poor health. She outlived him by twenty years.) George, their only son, graduated from Colgate University, (though some sources indicate Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, where others state Hamilton College), his father's alma mater, and Morgan Park Baptist Theological Seminary. He married Jennie Wortman in 1882, as previously noted.

Jennie Wortman was born in a log cabin in Van Wert, Ohio in 1863. Shortly thereafter, her father, James Wortman, died in the Civil War. Her mother, Mary Larue Wortman, an Ohio native, remarried in 1868 to widower Reuben B. Wood, a Baptist deacon. This merger created a large family: three Wortman children and seven Wood children, in addition to two children of Mary and Reuben Wood. Jennie Wortman received her teaching certificate at the age of fourteen and considered becoming a medical missionary. Two years later she attended Mt. Carroll Seminary for Girls in Illinois, where her schoolmate Elia Campbell introduced her to Elia's brother George.

Following their marriage in 1882, George and Jennie Campbell served as home missionaries in the North West Territory from 1882-1885, and at Tecumsah, Nebraska from 1885-1887. In that year, they left for China with their three small children. Five more children were born between that time and 1901.

The couple served in South China from 1885 to 1900, 1908 to 1912, and from 1914 to 1916. An eight year span, 1900 - 1908, was spent in missionary activity on the West Coast of the United States. Following her husband's death in 1927, Jennie Campbell returned to China where she remained until 1933. She died in 1939 at the home of her son, Kenneth.

Louise Campbell (1883-1968) graduated from Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, in 1928 and served as a China missionary for forty years. Her work centered on the Hakkas, hill people of the region, and as principal of the Kwong Yit Girls' School, Meihaien, Guangdong (Kwangtung) Province.

Miriam Elizabeth Campbell (1885- circa 1972) had some musical education, became a nurse, and served in France during World War I. She married Captain Edward L. Joyce, whom she met in Europe. The couple had two sons, one of whom was killed in World War II. She lived in Toledo, Ohio from 1919 to 1944, at which time she moved to California.

Paul Wortman Campbell (1887-1966) attended the Mt. Herman School, Northfield, Massachusetts, and spent most of his life as a realtor in Eugene, Oregon. He married Lanna Mallet in 1918, and the couple had three sons.

Thomas Packer Campbell (1889-1951) also attended the Mt. Hermon School, Northfield, Massachusetts. He later enrolled at Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon, and studied Forestry at Oregon Agricultural College, Corvallis. He spent much of his life in the Navy, serving in both World Wars. In 1918 he married Lola Finley, and the couple had three daughters.

Margaret Larue Campbell (1891-1952) graduated from Linfield College in 1913 and married her classmate, Everett S. Burket, the following year. In 1916, the couple sailed for China, where they worked among the Hakkas until their retirement in 1946. They had four children.

Kenneth Malcolm Campbell (1896-circa 1973) attended the China Inland Mission School for Boys, Yantai (Chefoo), North China (where he was a classmate of Thornton Wilder), and Linfield College, and enlisted in the Navy during World War I. He spent much of his life as a teacher and farmer in Washington. His wife, Bodil Weil, was also a teacher. They had four children.

Dorothy McBride Campbell (1898-1972) graduated from Linfield College around 1920, Seattle General Hospital School of Nursing, Class of 1923, and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. In 1926 she left for China where she served until 1944. At that time she became a nurse in New York City, where she pursued her interests in writing and psychology by taking courses at Columbia University.

David Miles Campbell (1901-circa 1972) attended Linfield College for two years, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles from 1922 to 1934, and graduated from Occidental College in 1926. He served as a China missionary from 1926-1942. From 1942 to 1944 he was interpreter for Chinese troops for General Joseph Stilwell. After the war, he became a contractor in Eugene, Oregon. In 1957, he moved to Southern California where he retired in 1964. He married Bessie Mae Gillis in 1936. The couple, divorced in 1962, had three children.

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 Campbell Family Papers
Compiled by Lynn Buckley Aber
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

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