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United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia Records

Call Number: RG 11

Scope and Contents

Record Group Number 11 represents the official archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, the United Board for Christian Colleges in China, the Associated Boards for Christian Colleges in China, and earlier committees related to the formation of these Boards. The collection documents the work of these organizations and provides extensive, detailed, and substantive information about the Protestant colleges and universities in China which were the focus of the Boards' activities prior to 1955. The records date from 1882 to 1974, with a concentration on the period 1922 to 1957.

The first two series are office files from the New York headquarters of the Boards. Board activities documented range from policy development to fund-raising, publicity, cooperative arrangements and special projects. The materials remain in their original arrangement, filed alphabetically by the names of individuals, organizations, or subject headings. A detailed cross reference list for Series II serves to clarify the occasionally idiosyncratic designations of subject headings and alerts the researcher to information about specific educational institutions or topics located in the files of individuals. There are records in Series I and II which duplicate or supplement documents available in Series IV. No effort has been made to extract these records from their original setting for placement with similar materials in the China college files. Prominent correspondents in these Series include William Danforth, John K. Fairbank, Daniel J. Fleming, W. Ernest Hocking, Edward H. Hume, Henry R. Luce, Henry W. Luce, Edwin M. McBrier, John R. Mott, I. M. Pei, Anson Phelps Stokes, Hollington Tong, Henry P. Van Dusen, and Mary E. Woolley.

While the Consolidated General Files of Series I and II are predominantly correspondence, Series III consists primarily of official papers, minutes and reports. The compilation of materials in this "New File" provides a succinct overview of the development, operations and internal structure of the United Board and antecedent bodies.

Extensive correspondence, minutes, reports and publications in Series IV document the formation, policy and programs of the Protestant colleges and universities in China. Invaluable information regarding the work of Chinese and Western leaders in the field of education, such as Lincoln Dsang, T. T. Lew, Herman C. E. Liu, Liu Shu-ming, Francis C. M. Wei, Wu Yi-fang, M. Searle Bates, Joseph Beech, Arthur J. Bowen, Hiram H. Lowry, J. L. Hawks Pott, J. Leighton Stuart, Matilda C. Thurston, and others, is provided. The history of various attempts to unify or correlate the work of specific institutions can be traced through the records.

Detailed reconstruction of life on the China College campuses is made possible through statistical records, student essays and transcripts, faculty reminiscences, publicity releases and documentation of the Colleges' physical plants, administrative procedures, curricula, extra-curricular activities and financial affairs. The impact of political events on the programs of the China Colleges is well documented. To cite just one example, a series of newsletters from Yenching, 1951 to 1953, provide interesting comment by British faculty members Ralph and Nancy Lapwood on campus life after the Communist takeover, including descriptions of "Study Groups" organized among the faculty, workmen and staff of the University and the Anti-3 Movement.

The following list indicates the approximate linear footage of records included in the China College Files of Series IV. These figures exclude oversize material and related material located in other series. They serve only to indicate the relative amount of documentation available for the various institutions:

  1. Fukien Christian University --7.5'
  2. Ginling College --15'
  3. Hangchow Christian University --1.5'
  4. Huachung Christian University --5'
  5. Hwa Nan College --1'
  6. Lingnan University --4'
  7. University of Nanking --21'
  8. St. John's University --.25'
  9. Shanghai University --.5'
  10. Shantung Christian University (Cheeloo) --11'
  11. Soochow University --1.5'
  12. West China Union University --10'
  13. Yenching University --33'

A searchable database containing many photographs from Series V is available. The abundant films, photographs, slides and sound recordings of Series V are primarily related to the China Colleges, but are also an excellent source for general views of Chinese people, buildings and scenes, particularly in Beijing (Peking) and West China. As in the case of Series IV, there is considerable variation in the amount of material available for each college or university.

Series VI documents the work of organizations which were colleagues of the United Board in the support and coordination of higher education in Asia. Records are fragmentary for most of these organizations, but fairly substantive for the Cooperating Board for Christian Education in Chosen, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, and the Princeton-Yenching Foundation. Of particular note in the Series are reports, statistics and documents related to the Correlated Program for Christian Higher Education in China, filed with materials of the China Christian Education Association. A small amount of material related to institutions supported by the United Board after 1955 is included in this Series. The publications found in Series VI are pamphlets, reports and articles used for reference by the United Board and antecedent bodies. Larger reference works and monographs received with the archives have been added to the Library's general collection.

The strengths of this collection lie in its documentation of Protestant colleges and universities in China and American efforts to encourage their growth from 1922 to 1950. Valuable information related to a variety of peripheral topics is also available throughout the collection. Material concerning a scholarship fund established at Lingnan University, for example, includes correspondence and biographical documentation of Yew Fun Tan, one of the students in the Educational Mission sent to the United States by the Chinese government in 1872. After being placed with a New England family to learn English and prepare for school, Yew Fun Tan graduated from Yale in 1883. In the Yenching University files, correspondence of Mary H. Stuart describes the 1922 World Student Christian Federation Conference in Beijing (Peking). Many other examples could be cited. The individuals associated with the China Colleges tended to be well-educated and intelligent; their correspondence and writings provide a valuable perspective on life in China, and particularly on the political turmoil which characterized this time period.

While it seemed wise to retain the original order of the extensive Consolidated General Files of Series I and II, and the correspondence in Series IV, the remainder of the collection has been essentially organized "from scratch." This combination of organizational techniques has led to a less than ideal situation for the researcher who must search through several listings to discover all possible sources of information related to a specific individual, institution or topic. It is hoped that researchers will have the patience and common sense necessary to exploit the wealth of documentation available in this collection.


  • 1882-1977


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Associated Boards for Christian Colleges in China, Consolidated General File
  2. II. United Board for Christian Colleges in China, Consolidated General File
  3. III. New File
  4. IV. China College Files
  5. V. Audio-Visual Materials
  6. VI. Related Organizations and Publications


206 Linear Feet (465 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The collection includes correspondence, minutes, reports, publications, financial records, and photographs which document the administrative functions of the United Board and antecedent bodies and provides extensive detailed and substantive information about the Protestant colleges and universities in China which were the focus of the Board's activities prior to 1955. The correspondence and writings provide a valuable perspective on life in China and particularly on the political turmoil which characterized this time period. The United Board was established to support and coordinate the activities of Protestant colleges and universities in China. Following the Communist takeover of China, the United Board focused its efforts on educational work in other Asian nations. Additions to Record Group 011 include: RG011a, RG011b, RG011c, RG011d, RG011e, RG011f, RG011g, RG011h, RG011i.

Biographical / Historical

1920 May
At a meeting of representatives of the China Christian Educational Association, Hangchow Christian College, the University of Nanking, Peking University, Shanghai Baptist College, Shantung Christian University, and West China Union University, it was proposed to establish a "Board of Co-operation of the Union Institutions of Higher Education in China", which would serve to facilitate coordination in the areas of educational program, faculty recruitment and financial promotion.
1920 October
Representatives of the five union universities (Fukien, Nanking, Peking, Shantung and West China) met to discuss a "Plan for the Coalition of the Interests of Certain Mission Universities of China".
1922 April
Trustees of Nanking, Peking, and Shantung universities established the Central Office of the China Union Universities, a joint office for correspondence, accounting, purchasing and other administrative matters.
Working from headquarters in New York City, the work of the Central Office expanded as it provided services for its original members, Fukien Christian University, West China Union University, and other, unofficially related, China colleges.
Representatives of the boards of ten China colleges and universities established the Permanent Committee for the Coordination and Promotion of Christian Higher Education in China which was to concern itself not with secretarial or accounting matters, but rather with two interrelated objectives, the coordination of educational policy and program in China, and the coordination of financial cultivation efforts in the West.
1928 January
The Harvard-Yenching Institute was established to provide opportunities for research, instruction and publication in the field of Chinese studies, through cooperation between Harvard University and Peking (Yenching) University. The Institute was a key element in the distribution of the substantial Charles Hall estate to the China Colleges.
1928 January
The name of the Permanent Committee was changed to the Committee for Christian Colleges in China.
1929 January
The Committee for Christian Colleges in China called together representatives of eighteen mission boards and societies to discuss the Correlated Program for Christian Higher Education which had been formulated by the Council of Higher Education, a body established by the Association of Christian Colleges and Universities in China. Ensuing meetings on the subject led to general agreement regarding the necessity of correlation, but little concrete action.
1932 October
An organizational meeting of the Associated Boards for Christian Colleges in China was held. The ABCCC combined the activities of the Central Office and the Committee for Christian Colleges in China in a format designed to provide opportunity for more extensive coordination without demanding unified policy and executive action.
1934 January
University of Nanking
Lingnan University
Hangchow Christian College
Ginling College
Yenching University
West China Union University
Soochow University
Shantung Christian College
Central China College
Fukien Christian University
1935 May
Hwa Nan College joined the ABCCC
1937 May
The University of Shanghai joined the ABCCC
Many of the China Colleges were forced to move from their campuses to avoid Japanese hostilities during the war years. Five institutions shared the West China Union University campus in Chengdu (Chengtu). The Associated Boards established a National Emergency Committee for Christian Colleges in China to raise the additional funds required by increased expenses and rising inflation in China.
Following American involvement in the war, United China Relief provided over six million dollars for the China Colleges.
1945 June
The United Board for Christian Colleges in China was created, a single corporation merging the Boards of Trustees of Fukien Christian University, Ginling College, Hwa Nan College, the University of Nanking, West China Union University and Yenching University.
Shantung Christian University, St. John's University, Huachung University, Soochow University and Hangchow University joined the UBCCC.
The China Christian Colleges Committee was formed to raise funds for the post-war rehabilitation of the China Colleges.
The China college campuses came under Communist control.
Following the severing of contacts with the China Colleges, UBCCC goals were redefined. Committees were formed to be responsible for Services in Asia, Services in North America, and Research and Publication. A number of institutions and projects were supported by the Board including Chung Chi College in Hong Kong, Tunghai University in Taiwan, Silliman University in the Philippines, and Yonsei University in Korea.
1955 May
The corporate name of the United Board for Christian Colleges in China was changed to the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, in keeping with its expanded program.

The United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia has continued to expand its area of service. A restructuring of the Board in 1974 insured increased participation of Asians in program and policy development.

For a detailed history of the United Board and its predecessors, through 1975, the researcher is referred to William P. Fenn's Ever New Horizons (UBCHEA, 1980).

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 United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia Records
Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley and Karen Jordan
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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