Lorenzo and Ruth Bennett Morgan Papers
Scope and Contents
This collection documents many facets of the life and times of Lorenzo and Ruth Morgan and their three children, both during their time in China as doctors and missionaries (1904-1946) and in the United States (1946-1955) after their return. Extensive correspondence, diaries, writings, biographical data, collected material, and photographs in these archives provide detailed documentation regarding the Morgans' work and the turbulent events of Chinese society during the first half of the twentieth century. These papers complement the papers of Paul and Helen Hayes (RG 18) who were Methodist missionaries stationed in Wuhu and Zhenjiang (Chinkiang), Anhwei Province from 1921 to 1935.
Series I, Family Correspondence, is the largest portion of the collection. The majority of family correspondence consists of letters of Loren and Ruth to and from their parents and siblings in the U.S. and to their children away at school. The letters describe their six-month journey from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to their first assignment in China, as well as the travails and adventures they experienced once they reached their destination. Forty-one years of correspondence from China provides descriptions of the Morgans' medical missionary work, as well as their involvement in various events, including the 1907-1908 famine in Jiangsu (Kiang Su) Province, the 1918 outbreak of plague in Datong (Tatung) and the area northeast of Beijing (Peking), a major revolution against all foreigners in Lianyungang (Haichow) in 1927; the Japanese invasion of their city, Wuhu, and their hospital in 1936,and the imprisonment of foreigners in Shanghai by the Japanese from 1942 until 1945. The frequent, detailed letters to family members also document family activities, marital stresses, successes and setbacks in their medical work, relationships with other missionaries, daily events including language learning and running a household, trouble with bandits, and so forth. Correspondence between Loren and Ruth during his absence from her while fighting the plague in 1918, and his letters from the internment camp in Shanghai where he was held against his will for over three years (1942-1945) is of particular note. This series also includes correspondence from the three Morgan children to each other, their extended family, and their friends, and letters from other family members to one another.
Series II, General Correspondence, consists of more than 1200 letters arranged in alphabetical order by recipient or sender other than the Morgans. These letters document the Morgans' professional medical and missionary activity. Letters to and from friends, physician colleagues, fellow missionaries, students, benefactors, and various organizations document their personal, collegial and professional relationships. The more prominent correspondents are listed individually and include Ira Cardiff, Ed and Gay Currie, Dr. Ailie Gale, Letty Grafton, Thomas B. Grafton and his son Cornelius, Gilbert Nee, John W. Paxton, Arthur Stillians, the Vinson family, and James Woods. Correspondence with the Mission Boards of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and the Methodist Church documents the Morgans' appointment to the mission field and their eventual move from the Presbyterian to the Methodist board.
Series III, Writings, is split into three sub-series: 1) Articles/Reports/Notes; 2) Diaries; 3) Notebooks/Compilations. Writings of Loren Morgan include papers from his high school and college years and his reports to various English edition Chinese newspapers commenting on the political scene and daily vicissitudes of life in China. Also of note are Loren's detailed diaries from the period of his internment at the Argyle Southern Highlanders (ASH) Camp at the Civil Assembly Center, Shanghai. In addition to the fragile originals, there are also photocopies and typed transcripts of the diaries, as well as other related documents, compiled into packets by Carrel Morgan.
Series IV, Biographical Information, consists primarily of printed materials about the five members of the immediate Morgan family and various aspects of their lives. Included in this series would are passports and various academic diplomas of the Morgans, school grades, personal bibles and books used and annotated by them, as well as newspaper and magazine and church bulletin accounts of their various accomplishments and travels and speaking engagements while at home in the U.S. on furlough.
Series V, Collected Material, is divided into five sub-series: 1) Artifacts/memorabilia; 2) Art Work; 3) Publications; 4) Maps of China; 5) Topical Subject Files. The artifacts include cloth dolls representing Chinese men and women, which Ruth Morgan used in talks about missions and life in China. Also included are samples of embroidery and cross stitch done at the True Light Mission in Wuhu, at a workshop set up by Ruth Morgan for the local women.
While in China, the Morgans took clippings from the English press there and filed them for their own use or sent them home to friends and family members to keep them abreast of developments in China. This part of the collection is valuable because it gives the scholar an on-scene description of events that the Morgans themselves witnessed. These clippings were preserved by family members and in later years were collected by the Morgans' youngest child Carrel to be preserved in this archive. Of particular interest in the "Topical Subject Files" are materials related to Ellen Lavine Graham Hospital, Lianyungang (Haichow), the Wuhu General Hospital, the plague in Datong (Tatung) (1918), the murder by bandits of John W. Vinson, and materials related to former students and aides in China whom the Morgans sponsored for medical training and practice in the USA.
Series VI, Photographs, is divided into four sub-series: 1) People; 2) Places; 3) Topics; and 4) Scrapbooks/compilations. The people depicted are primarily the Morgan family, Western missionary colleagues, and Chinese people, including during the famine years of 1906-1907. Places depicted include the hospitals where the Morgans worked and the Lianyungang (Haichow), Guling (Kuling), and Wuhu areas. Topical groupings include photos related to the ASH internment camp, the German airplane that landed in Lianyungang (Haichow) in 1914, and the trip of Carrel and Dorothy Morgan to China in 2000 to participate in ceremonies there honoring the work of Loren and Ruth Morgan. The scrapbook collections of photographs were primarily compiled by Carrel Morgan and document various aspects of the Morgans' life and work in China. A small additional set of photographs was donated in 2021 by Nancy Morgan Lebar. These include scenes, Western and Chinese people, hospital staff, including Dr. Hyla Watters, and family photos.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Carrel and Dorothy Morgan, 2002 - 2005; additional materials given by Nancy Lebar, granddaughter of Lorenzo and Ruth Morgan in 2021.
- I. Family Correspondence, 1862-2001
- II. General Correspondence, 1900-1990
- III. Writings, 1895-2001
- IV. Biographical Information, 1868-1955
- V. Collected Material, 1900-1994
- VI. Photographs, 1885-2000
23 Linear Feet (37 boxes; 9 oversize boxes)
Language of Materials
Extensive correspondence, diaries, writings, collected material, and photographs document the medical mission work of Lorenzo and Ruth Bennett Morgan in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces as well as Lorenzo Morgan's internment in Shanghai during World War II. The work of mission hospitals, famine relief, plague treatment, mission politics, mission family life, and political events in China are documented. The Morgans were medical missionaries in China, serving under the Presbyterian and Methodist mission boards from 1905 to 1946.
Biographical / Historical
- 1875 August 15
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan, (also known as Loren) born near Galva, Henry County, IL, fifth in a family of eight children, the son of John Norris Morgan and Mary McKinny Morgan. His siblings were Blanche Juliana, Fannie, Norris, Willis, Jennie, Harold, and Meryl.
- 1877 September 20
- Ruth Bennett born in Morton, Tazewell County, IL, second in a family of two children, daughter of William S. Bennett and Mary Ann Campbell Bennett. Her brother was Ralph Bennett.
- 1895 June
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan graduated from Galva High School
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan taught for one year in the country school he attended
- 1900 June
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan graduated from Knox College, Galesburg, IL with a Bachelor of Science Degree
- 1900 June
- Ruth Bennett graduated from University of Illinois
- 1900 October
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and Ruth Bennett began study at The Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, MD
- 1904 June 14
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and Ruth Bennett received their M.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and Ruth Bennett traveled to Nashville, TN, where they were appointed as missionaries of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (Southern Presbyterian church)
- 1904 June 29
- Marriage of Lorenzo Morgan and Ruth Bennett in First Church, Nashville, TN
- 1904 November
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and Ruth Bennett Morgan set sail for China
- 1905 January 1
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and Ruth Bennett Morgan arrived in the port of Shanghai, China
- After a few months learning Chinese in Zhenjiang (Chinkiang), they were called to join Dr. James Woods at the hospital in Qingjiangpu (Tsingkiang Pu), Jiangsu (Kiang Su) Province
- Major famine in North Jiangsu (Kiang Su) Province
- 1907 April 14
- Death of infant son in Qingjiangpu (Tsingkiang Pu)
- 1908 March 10
- Birth of daughter Ruth Pearce Morgan at Tsingkiang Pu Hospital
- Death of John Norris Morgan, father of Loren, in Galva, IL
- Work on the new Ellen Lavine Graham Hospital is begun in Lianyungang (Haichow/Haizhou), Jiangsu (Kiang Su) Province and the Morgans are transferred there to help complete it
- First furlough in the USA; studied medicine and surgery
- 1914 July 4
- Birth of daughter Juliana Louise Morgan at the hospital in Qingdao (Tsingtao), Shandong (Shantung) Province
- Summer spent at missionary resort in Guling (Kuling)
- Summer spent in Guling (Kuling)
- 1917 August 25
- Birth of son Carrel Bennett Morgan at Lianyungang (Haichow), Jiangsu (Kiang Su) Province
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan involved in plague prevention in Datong (Tatung) in northeast China
- Second furlough in the USA; studied childhood diseases
- Summer spent in Guling (Kuling); Ruth Pearce entered the Shanghai American School
- Summers spent at the seashore near Lianyungang (Haichow)
- 1927 Spring
- Violent revolution broke out in Lianyungang (Haichow)
- 1927 June
- Ruth Pearce Morgan graduated from the Shanghai American School
- Third furlough in the USA
- Cholera epidemic in Lianyungang (Haichow)
- 1929 June 15
- Death of Mary Bennett, Ruth Bennett Morgan's mother, in Los Angeles, CA, at the age of 93
- Death of Mary McKinny Morgan, mother of Loren, in Galva, IL
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and Ruth Bennett Morgan left Lianyungang (Haichow) for the Presbyterian Hospital in Zhenjiang (Chinkiang)
- 1934 June
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and Ruth Bennett Morgan transferred from the Presbyterian Mission Board to the Methodist Mission Board. They were assigned to the Methodist sponsored Wuhu General Hospital in "Ichisan," Wuhu, Anhui (Anhwei) Province
- Fourth furlough in the USA, then return to Wuhu
- Marriage of Ruth Pearce Morgan to Hubert G. Schmidt
- 1937 -1938
- Yangtze River is patrolled by British and American ships -a British ship, shelled by the Japanese, burns and sinks very close to the hospital in Wuhu
- Ruth Bennett Morgan spent most of the year in the USA due to ill health, but returned to China in Feb 1940
- Marriage of Juliana Louise Morgan to Elmer Wallace Cavins
- 1941 Spring
- Ruth Bennett Morgan, due to deteriorating health, returned by ship to the USA and settled in Lansing, IL, with daughter Juliana and her husband Elmer Wallace Cavins
- 1941 July 1
- Marriage of Carrel Bennett Morgan and Dorothy Dysart
- 1941 December
- Japanese took control of the hospital in Wuhu
- 1942 November
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and all staff forced from Wuhu General Hospital and are interned at the Episcopal "True Light" American Church Mission in Wuhu
- 1943 July 14
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and companions interned at the Argyle Southern Highlanders (ASH) Camp at the Civil Assembly Center, 63 Great Western Road, Shanghai. RBM did know of his whereabouts until Jan 1944.
- 1945 October
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan and companions returned to the Wuhu General Hospital
- 1946 January
- Dr. Gilbert Nee arrived at Wuhu Hospital to replace Dr. Morgan
- 1946 March
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan returned to USA
- 1946 October-November
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan spent time in recuperation at Clifton Springs Sanitarium, Clifton Springs, NY
- The Morgans moved to Packanack Lake, New Jersey, to be close to their son Carrel and his family
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan worked in New York City with the Associated Medical Missions Office and the National Council of Churches' "Christian Medical Council for Overseas Work"
- 1955 March 9
- Ruth Bennett Morgan died of a cerebral aneurysm in Paterson, New Jersey
- 1955 June 10
- Lorenzo Seymour Morgan died of a heart ailment in Wayne, New Jersey
- More detailed genealogical information about the Morgan / Bennett families is available in the first folder of Series IV, Biographical Information (Box 24, Folder 349)
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 Lorenzo and Ruth Bennett Morgan Papers
- Compiled by Sherman W. Gray, Jr. and Martha Lund Smalley
- 2006, 2010, 2019, 2022
- 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