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Dwight W. Edwards Papers

Call Number: RG 12

Scope and Contents

Dwight W. Edwards spent more than forty years serving the Chinese people in educational and relief work. The small group of papers in this record group cannot do full justice to the extent and depth of Edwards' contributions, but these papers do reflect the wide range of his activities, and are particularly valuable for their documentation of the Beijing (Peking) YMCA, Princeton-in-Peking, Yenching University, and the famine relief work of United China Relief and its successor, United Service to China. Edwards' correspondence, writings, and notes, as well as the printed material that he collected, all shed light on his philosophy and methods of work.

The correspondence of Series I consists primarily of letters related to various aspects of Edwards' professional activities in China. There are letters of a more personal nature from the period following his retirement, but virtually no family correspondence. Of special interest are letters exchanged with representatives of organizations involved in relief work, letters documenting squabbles within the missionary ranks (particularly surrounding Robert Gailey in 1924, and W.B. Pettus in 1927), and letters received from William Kelly and Ralph Lapwood (1951-1957) that describe life in China following the Communist takeover.

The addresses, articles, and reports of Series II reflect the spectrum of Edwards' interests. Edwards' analyses of the political and religious situation in China include well-informed descriptions of the tumultuous events that occurred between 1906 and 1949. A small number of papers deal specifically with the anti-Christian movement in China in the early 1920s. Writings related to famine relief include detailed on-site reports and broader overviews. Writings related to the YMCA, Princeton-in-Peking, and the Princeton-Yenching Foundation have been grouped together because of their interrelatedness in Edwards' career. Many annual reports written by Edwards are included in this section.

Series III includes notes and drafts used in the preparation of Edwards' book, Yenching University. Correspondence related to Edwards' efforts to gather information and advice for this historical work is found in Series I.

Edwards' notes in Series IV relate to many of the same topics as his writings but are more fragmentary in nature. Of particular interest are detailed notes describing Edwards' work among Chinese laborers in France during World War I.

Series V contains primarily printed or typescript material related to various organizations and topics. Little of this material is rare or unique, but it is of value for defining the context of Edwards' work. Annual reports of the china International Famine Relief Commission for the years 1923-1934 are included, as well as significant documentation of the Princeton work in China, and United Service to China.

Series VI includes scattered documentation of Edwards' activities and background. Most noteworthy is a manuscript entitled "The Mission to China of Dwight Woodbridge and Mary Vanderslice Edwards" written by Edwards' son-in-law, Robert Brank Fulton, in 1982.

The Edwards Papers were given to the Yale Divinity School Library in June 1982 and January 1983 by his daughter and son-in-law, Anne and Robert Brank Fulton. A number of Chinese language periodicals and pamphlets received with the papers were transferred to the East Asian Collection of the Yale University Library.

The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by writer or recipient other than DWE. In most cases letters are filed under a personal rather than corporate name. Cross references will alert the researcher to correspondence related to organizations that is filed under a personal name. Folders labeled with letters only, such as "Ad-Al", are followed by individual folders for more prominent or frequent correspondents. One folder of first names only and unidentified correspondence concludes the series.


  • 1905-1982


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Anne and Robert Brank Fulton, 1982, 1983.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1924-1965, n.d.
  2. II. Addresses, articles, reports, 1909-1959
  3. III. Yenching monograph, 1956, n.d.
  4. IV. Notes, ca. 1912-1949
  5. V. Collected material, ca. 1905-1965, n.d.
  6. VI. Personal items and memorabilia, 1918-1982, n.d.


8 Linear Feet (19 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 Dwight W. Edwards' work in China, particularly with the YMCA in Beijing (Peking), which was sponsored by the Princeton University Student Christian Association. The famine relief work of various organizations in China is also well documented. Edwards was a missionary in China from 1906 to 1949. He was active in YMCA work, particularly in Beijing (Peking), and in famine relief work throughout China from 1920 to 1949. Edwards held leadership positions with the China International Famine Relief Commission, United China Relief, and United Service to China, and was also associated with Yenching University in Beijing (Peking).

Biographical / Historical

1883 March 25
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, son of Rev. Maurice and Annie Edwards.
B.A., cum laude, Princeton University.
M.A., in mathematics, Princeton University.
Teacher in Japan under YMCA auspices.
Served YMCA in China.
Associate general secretary of Beijing (Peking) YMCA. Beijing (Peking) YMCA was sponsored by Princeton-in-Peking, which later became the Princeton-Yenching Foundation
Married Mary E. Vanderslice, ABCFM missionary serving as Director of Kindergarten Training in the North China College for Women. Children: Dwight W. , Jr. and Anne.
Executive secretary of Peking United International Famine Relief Committee. This relief operation resulted in the formation of the China International Famine Relief Commission, which functioned from 1922 to 1946 in relief and prevention of famine in China.
Executive secretary of Finance Commission of the Government Relief Bureau administering the Surtax on the Maritime Customs for Relief.
Executive field secretary of Princeton-Yenching Foundation.
General secretary of Beijing (Peking) YMCA following retirement of Robert Gailey, until Chinese General secretary was appointed.
YMCA Regional secretary for North China, based in Beijing (Peking).
Six months service with Chinese Government Yangtze flood relief work.
Member of the Board of Managers of Yenching University.
YMCA Senior secretary in China, based first in Shanghai and from 1941 to 1946 in Chongqing (Chungking).
Field Director and Vice-president of United China Relief (later known as United Service to China), on loan from YMCA.
1943, 1946
Received Chinese government awards for relief and educational work.
Full time work for United Service to China following retirement from YMCA.
Executive secretary of the Administrative Committee of Yenching University.
Honorary Doctorate of Philanthropy, Princeton University.
Returned from China to the U.S., continued to serve as consultant in relief field for several years.
DWE's monograph, Yenching University, published by United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.
1967 Oct 4
Died in Princeton, New Jersey.

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 Dwight W. Edwards 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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