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Collection 246 Papers of Jessie McDonald

Identifier: CN 246

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, diaries, notes, articles, photographs, and annual reports relating to Jessie McDonald's medical work in China from 1913-1952 with China Inland Mission. The documents include information on evangelistic outreach and the nature of health conditions in China. The materials also describe the political and social upheavals occurring in China during the first half of the 1900s.

The correspondence by Dr. Mc Donald is supplemented by some correspondence of her co-workers which is interspersed in her papers. The titles of the folders and their arrangement by record type (alphabetically) were supplied by the archivist; the chronological arrangement of the correspondence remains as it was received from the donor. Duplicate copies of material have been removed for the collection and returned to the donor.

The correspondence of Dr. Mc Donald (folders 1-4 through 1-29) comprises the major portion of this collection. The letters were mainly written to her mother or family and contain an abundance of detail about everyday life. A number of folders contain not only the handwritten letters from Dr. Mc Donald but also typed excerpts prepared by her family for distribution in North America. Throughout, the correspondence depicts the busy life of a medical missions station (often understaffed), how medical work augmented evangelistic outreach, and the nature of health conditions in China.

In recording events at the hospitals at Kaifeng and Dali, Dr. Mc Donald refers to many missionaries from CIM and other missions, a few of whom stand out, most significantly Mabel E. Soltau, whose correspondence is included and who wrote joint prayer letters with Dr. Mc Donald. Other co-workers, some of whose correspondence is also in the collection, include: Paul and Vivien Adolph, Lois Blott, Emily Dives, Edith G. Dreyer, F. Eitel, Mr. Gardiner, Dr. and Mrs Gibson, G. Whitfield Guinness, Henry Guinness, A. Harris, Lawrence and Esther Nowack Hess, Lila G. Jackson, Dr. Judd, Lucy Kao, Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy, Mary Li, Lorna S. Mac Coll, Miss Madden, Elizabeth E. Miles, Dr. and Mrs. Murray, Dr. Anna M. Pirie, D. V. Rees, Catherine Simmons, Maybeth Standen, John Toop, Dr. and Mrs. R. N. Walker, E. Winstanley Wallis, Lilian Watney, Ernest Weller, and Clair Williams.

Dr. Mc Donald's term of service covered a period of rapid change in China, which included the emergence of the Kuo min tang and communist party, the rule of General Feng in Henan Province, the occupation by and subsequent defeat of the Japanese, the civil war in the late 1940s, and the coming to power of the communists. These developments are all noted in Dr. Mc Donald's writing, as well as treatment, coordinated with the Red Cross and International Relief Committee, given to wounded soldiers and refugees resulting from the turmoil these changes brought, and several evacuations form the Kaifeng facility.

While the primary focus of Dr. Mc Donald's writing was her medical work, she also touches on relations with other missions, Pentecostal expressions of Christianity (folder 1-15), feelings about her singleness (folder 1-4), and anti-foreign feeling against the missionaries (folders 1-9, 1-21). Also included in folder 1-14 are impressions of Japan and Korea which Dr. Mc Donald visited, and comparisons between them and China.

Along with the correspondence, folders 1-1 and 1-2 consist of annual reports prepared on the medical work at Kaifeng and Dali. These offer an overview of developments in these two hospitals, representing the official positions complemented by Dr. Mc Donald's personal correspondence. Folder 1-31 contains handwritten medical notebooks with information on symptoms and various diseases in China, recommended treatments, and the compositions of various medicines. Folder 1-34 contains notes on the place of Jews in Chinese religious history.


  • Created: 1907-1951

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Jessie Mc Donald was born in Canada in 1888. Her educational background consisted of medical studies in London, Glasgow, and Vienna, receiving an M.B. from Toronto University. She held internships in Boston and Philadelphia. She also studied at the Glasgow Bible Training Institute. With this preparation, Dr. Mc Donald went to China as a missionary surgeon with the China Inland Mission (CIM) in 1913. She worked at CIM's Kaifeng Hospital in Honan Province (new spelling, Henan) from 1913 to 1939, serving as a surgeon, medical teacher, and administrator. With the evacuation of the hospital, she did some itinerant medical work before being stationed from 1940-1952 in Tali (new spelling, Dali) in Yunnan Province, which was near the Burma Road running through Paoshan. On several occasions, Dr Mc Donald also studied and worked at the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) in Peking (new spelling, Beijing). She took her furloughs in 1920, 1928, 1936, and 1945, and left China as part of CIM's general evacuation in 1952. In 1954, following her departure from China, Dr. Mc Donald joined the faculty of Biola School of Missionary Medicine. She died in 1980.


1 Box

2 Photograph Files

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials for this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center Archives in May 1982 from Margaret McDonald, through the United States Branch of Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

Accession 82-60

August 18, 1983

Paul A. Ericksen

J. Nasgowitz

Collection 246 Papers of Jessie McDonald
Paul Ericksen
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US