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Collection 314 Oral History Interview with Martha H. Philips

Identifier: CN 314

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with Martha H. Philips (1905-1996) in which she describes her childhood, education, missionary work in China with China Inland Mission at Chefoo School as a teacher of missionary children, her internment by the Japanese at Temple Hill and Wei Xian camps, repatriation, working with Wycliffe Bible Translators among the Zapotec Indians in southern Mexico, and traveling throughout the world representing the mission. The time period covered by the interviews is roughly 1910-1973.

Martha Philips was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on September 26, 1985 at the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College.


  • Created: 1985

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Martha Henrietta Philips was born near Pullman, Washington, on October 21, 1905; she had two brothers and two sisters. Her father worked as a farmer in several locations in Washington; in those communities he also helped to found several nondenominational congregations. Philips was educated in the pre-med program at Washington State University in Pullman, intending to become a medical missionary. Unable to immediately enter medical school for financial reasons, she worked as a teacher in Spokane for five years. Philips enrolled at Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, in 1934, completing the program in two years. Immediately after graduating in 1936, she joined China Inland Mission (CIM), hoping to work among one of China's tribal groups. Shortly after arriving in China, however, she was assigned to teach at Chefoo School, CIM's school for its missionary children in Chefoo (now Yantai), Shandong Province; Philips oversaw the education of American students (10 years and older) in the largely British institution.

The school was captured by the Japanese army in 1938, after which the staff and children were placed "under Japanese protection." On December 7, 1941, the day on which the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the staff and children were placed under house arrest. In October or November of 1942, they were transferred to the nearby Temple Hill school, where they were kept until September 1943. The Americans from the school were then transferred to a facility in Wei Xian, Shandong, where they remained three weeks before being repatriated. Philips, along with twenty-five American children and approximately fifteen American adults returned to New York via South Africa and Rio de Janeiro on the repatriation vessel, the Gripsholm. She returned to the Seattle area where she taught for two years at the University of Washington, as well as studied to return to China as a translator.

With the Communist takeover and subsequent expulsion of missionaries from China, Philips applied to and was accepted by Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1950, which initially assigned her to work in Mexico. She had two short term translating assignments in Mitla, Oaxaca, and Tasquillo, Hidalgo, before she was assigned to work among the Zapotec Indians. She, along with another woman, were based northeast of Oaxaca in Yazatchi el Bajo and then nearby Yazatchi de Alto, where they remained until 1956. After a year of furlough/deputation in the United States, Philips was given a worldwide deputation assignment, which took her to Australia for eighteen months, New Zealand for a year, New Guinea, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana. Initially of indefinite length, Philips' traveling on behalf of the mission was extended until her retirement in 1973. She died January 25, 1996.


3.00 Audio Tapes

192 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the the Billy Graham Center Archives by Martha Philips in September 1985.

Accession 85-160

December 12, 1990

Paul A. Ericksen

C. Easley

Collection 314 Oral History Interview with Martha H. Philips
Paul Ericksen
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US