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Merrill and Lucile Ady Papers

Call Number: RG 138

Scope and Contents

The Ady Papers housed at the Yale Divinity School Library represent the personal side of a rather substantial official record of their missionary career. Consisting primarily of family letters, these documents reveal much about the daily life of a missionary family, including references to the larger purposes of their mission as well as descriptions of life on a day to day basis amidst political unrest. For details of Merrill's work under the Presbyterian Board, his position with the Church of Christ in China, or later work with the Kwangtung International Relief Committee, the researcher is referred to documents on file with the Presbyterian Board of Missions in Philadelphia.

The Adys came in contact with numerous missionaries, such as Frank Short, Tracy Jones, Alice Schaefer, the Siddalls, Stewarts, Sauers, Nelsons and Lois Armentrout, but these colleagues are usually mentioned only in relation to social engagements.

Taishan Xian (Taishen hsien county), Guangdong (Kwangtung) province, where the Adys worked, was situated half way between Hong Kong and Hainan. This county was "controlled" by the Presbyterians from the Protestant standpoint; it was also the first location of the Catholic Maryknoll Mission which took over from the French fathers.

The early letters in this collection are of interest for their documentation of the reaction of missionaries freshly arrived from America to Chinese culture. They also document the Adys' evacuation to the Philippines in 1925. The Adys were frequently separated during the war and Merrill's letters to Lucile during 1937-1941 and 1943-1946 contain more substantive descriptions and comments than earlier or later letters. Since the Japanese allowed no letters out of internment camps, there is a gap in documentation during 1942. Included with Merrill's oral history transcript of 1970-1971 is a memorandum about his repatriation experience. Also informative are his summaries and observations about conditions in China in 1950 (folder 49).

Added in 2015 were documents related to Merrill S. Ady's work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II, a memoir by the Adys' son Donald about his World War II experiences as a child in China, and reproductions of high quality, well-identified photographs from the area in Kwantung where the Adys worked.


  • 1921-1971


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Carolyn Ady Simonson and Donald W. Ady


  1. I. Correspondence, 1923-1968
  2. II. Printed Material, 1921-1956
  3. III. Writings, 1941-1971
  4. IV. World War II Activities
  5. V. Photographs


1.75 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Letters, writings, and printed material document the personal side of the Ady's missionary work in China and Hong. These records complement documentation held in the archives of the Presbyterian Board of Missions. Merrill Steele and Lucile Meloy Ady were Presbyterian missionaries in China and Hong Kong from 1923 to 1960.

Biographical / Historical

1897 December 15
Born in Omaha, Nebraska
Served in armed forces, WWI
BA Monmouth College
BD McCormick Seminary
1923 August 3
Married Lucile Meloy of Evanston, IL who earned her BA degree cum laude at Monmouth and herMA at the University of Illinois. Children: Carolyn (b.1926), Robert (b.1927), Donald (b.1932)
1923 September 26
Arrived at Guangzhou (Canton), China as Presbyterian Church in USA missionary for a year of language study
Evangelical work in countryside around Yeung Kong, Guangdong (Kwangtung), South China
Evacuated to Philippines when Sun Yat-Sen made his first foray into power from Guangzhou (Canton)
Furlough - McCormick Seminary
Worked under Fifth District Association of the Church of Christ in China (Yeung Kong Station was turned over to CCC circa 1928)
1936-1937 August
Furlough in Evanston, IL
Appointed Executive Secretary, South China Mission of the Presbyterian Church (Guangzhou (Canton))
1941 December 25
Interned by Japanese with Lucile and Donald; Stanley Prison, Hong Kong
1942 July
Attempted to get back to his station, but was stalled first in Lourenco Marques and then in Kolkata (Calcutta)
Field agent in Secret Intelligence in the U.S. Army Office of Strategic Services in China
Worked with Kwangtung International Relief Committee (KIRC), Guangdong
Lucile and Donald arrived in Guangzhou (Canton) - Donald attended Shanghai American School
In Hong Kong, New Territories for the Sixth District Association of the Kwangtung Synod of the Church of Christ in China
Organized First Asian Church Women's Association. Lucile taught at True Light Middle School
In Kowloon, Hong Kong as official representative for Presbyterian Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations (COEMAR)
Retired to Duarte, CA
1982 November 2

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 Merrill and Lucille Ady Papers
Compiled by Shari Laist
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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