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Collection 188 Papers of Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth

Identifier: CN 188

Scope and Contents

Letters, diaries, book and article manuscripts, sermon manuscripts and photographs related to Goforth's evangelistic work as a Presbyterian missionary in China, Korea and Manchuria.

Includes some papers of Goforth's wife, Rosalind; reports on fleeing the Boxer Rebellion; descriptions of famine relief, attitudes about growing theological liberalism in North America, and the process of raising a family on the mission field.  Persons featured include Feng Yu-hsiang, evangelist Paul Rader, mission founder James Hudson Taylor, and Chinese evangelist Leland Wang.


  • Created: 1888-1981

Conditions Governing Access

Information about copyright is available at the Billy Graham Center Archives. This collection has been microfilmed and researchers should use the microfilm edition rather than the original documents.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Jonathan Goforth

Birth: 1859 in Thorndale, Ontario, Canada.

Death: October 8, 1936


Parents: Francis and Jane (Bates) Goforth, farmers

Siblings: 10 siblings

Conversion: At the age of 18 and soon thereafter joined the Presbyterian Church.

Ordination: October 1887 in the Presbyterian Church


18?? - Graduated high school in Ingersoll, Onatario, Canada

18?? - Took a business course in London, Ontario

ca. 1882-ca. 1887 - Knox College, Ontario, Canada


ca. 1874 - Was put in charge of a second farm his father had bought. His formal education was often interrupted by the seasonal needs of farm work.

ca. 1882-1887 - He often preached at rescue missions in Toronto or visited prisons or went door-to-door to witness to families. During summers, he participated in home missions work. It was while he was assisting at the Toronto Union Mission in 1885 that he met Rosalind Bell-Smith, his future wife

Full Name: Rosalind Bell-Smith Goforth

Birth: 1864 in London, England

Death: May 31, 1942, of angina.


Parents: Her father was John Bell-Smith, founder of the Royal Academy of Art in Canada

Siblings: At least one brother, Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith, the painter of the Canadian west and one sister, Gertrude.

Conversion: At the age of twelve, at a revival meeting.


?-1885 - Toronto School of Art

Joint Biography of Jonathan and Rosalind (Bell-Smith) Goforth

Marital Status: Married Rosalind Bell-Smith in 1887

Children: Eleven, seven girls and four boys. See chart below


Jonathan had early decided that China would be his mission field. The Presbyterian Church in Canada had no field in China, so he applied to China Inland Mission. He never received a reply, but his fellow students at Knox College raised funds so that he could go out under the Presbyterian Board. The Board appointed Jonathan and J. Fraser Smith to China. In October of 1887, he was ordained.

The Goforths left Canada for China in February, 1888. They arrived in Chefoo (or Yantai in the Pinyin romanization) in Shantung (or Shandong in Pinyin romanization) province and stayed to study the Chinese language and prepare themselves for work in the northern part of Honan (or Henan in the Pinyin romanization) province, which was the field assigned to the Presbyterian Church of Canada . The Goforth's first child, Gertrude Madeline, was born in August. The Goforths eventually had ten more children: Donald, Paul, Florence, Helen, Grace, Ruth, William, [Amelia] Constance, Mary, and [John] Frederick. Gertrude, Donald, Florence, Grace, and Constance all died as babies or very young children. Ruth married D. I. Jeffrey, a missionary to French Indochina; Helen married Dr. George Van Gorder, and Mary married Rev. Robert Moynan.)

Toward the end of 1888, more recruits began arriving from Canada and Jonathan, together with Smith, took a trip through North Honan. In December, the Presbytery of North Honan was formed (Jonathan was the first moderator) and the next year Goforth began to go on preaching tours through the field. For two years, the mission base was in Linching, Shantung, but in 1890 a home was secured in Chuwang in Honan. In 1894, the mission moved to Changte (Changde in the Pinyin romanization). For the next several years, Jonathan's time was spent on preaching tours, with small but growing results. The family's first furlough back to Canada took place during 1894-1895. After their return, Jonathan continued his tours. Rosalind stayed in Changte and had Bible classes for local women in addition to running the home. The Goforths began to hold "open house" for Chinese visitors, since many were intensely curious about western life style and this provided a good opportunity for evangelizing. Thousands were led through the home between 1894 and 1899. There was some criticism, however, by other missionaries of this policy, as they felt it lowered the Chinese opinion of westerners.

In 1900, the so-called Boxer Rebellion broke out. All foreigners in China were in great physical danger from Chinese infuriated by the years of insults and humiliation their nation had suffered from the West and Japan. In June, the missionaries in Changte received word from the American consul in Chefoo to flee south. The party set out for Hankow. On July 7, outside of Hsintien, the party was attacked by a mob, all their property taken, and Jonathan was beaten almost to death. They found refuge in a village of Moslems. After many more adventures, the missionaries reached Hankow. They went from there to Shanghai and from Shanghai returned to Canada.

Jonathan returned to Honan in 1901, as soon as it was feasible, and in July, 1902, Rosalind and the children left Canada to join him. The work of the field had been revised and Jonathan had received the area northeast to northwest of the city. He decided to attempt a different method of evangelizing. He would take his family with him, rather than leavethem in Changte. He would not have to return to the mission base for months at a time. The family would move to a village and stay for a month while Jonathan and his helpers preached to the men and Rosalind preachedto the women. After about a month, they would move on. Rosalind at first strongly opposed theplan for fear that the conditions would be too unhygienic for the health of the children. Shefinally acquiesced, however. (They had lost five children by 1901. All of their other childrensurvived.) Other missionaries, however, doubted the wisdom of Jonathan's methods. ThePresbytery finally allowed him to put them into practice on a three-year trial basis and he had tofinance the work at his own expense. The trial proved successful and from February to June andSeptember to December each year the Goforth family went on evangelizing tours. As the childrengrew older, they were sent to the boarding school at Chefoo and then to Canada for their highereducation.

About 1904, Jonathan received a copy of Charles Finney's Lectures on Revivals. He becameconvinced that there were laws which, if followed, would bring great spiritual awakenings. Hewas also excited by the stories he began to hear about the Welsh revival. He began to spendmany hours in Bible study and prayer studying the nature of revivals. In 1907, Jonathan waschosen to accompany the foreign mission secretary of his Board, R. P. MacKay, on a trip toKorea. They arrived in Korea to find themselves in the midst of a revival that stirred themdeeply. They returned to Honan through Manchuria and, as Jonathan described the Koreanexperience to crowds at Manchurian mission stations, he received invitations to hold evangelisticmeetings in that province. With difficulty, he received permission from the Honan Presbytery togo. The few weeks he spent in Manchuria in February, 1908, were a turning point in his life, forhe preached to large crowds in many places and became closely associated with the religiousenthusiasm that was manifesting itself in the province. From this time forward, Jonathan wasknown throughout China as an evangelist.

In 1908, the Honan Presbytery gave Goforth permission to go virtually full-time into evangelismall through China. Because Jonathan would be constantly traveling, Rosalind returned with thechildren to Canada in July to await his next furlough, when they would be reunited. Jonathanpreached in many towns, especially in the province of Shansi (Shanxi in the Pinyinromanization). He also helped train Chinese evangelists and was one of the prime movers behindthe formation of a Presbytery of Chinese believers in 1909. By 1912, eight Chinese men hadbeen ordained as ministers.

Also in 1909, Jonathan left for furlough. He returned to Canada via London, England, where hepreached about the revivals in China. After a brief time in Toronto, he attended the GeneralAssembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. There he again described the revivals in Chinaand Korea and he emphasized the need of Canadian church leaders to renew their faith and togive more active support to evangelism. The speech won him enemies and he began to acquire areputation among some as a fanatic, difficult to get along with. Jonathan was appointed adelegate to the World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910. He and hisfamily went to Britain where, in addition to attending the conference, Jonathan held revivalmeetings and spoke at Spurgeon's Tabernacle and the Keswick meetings.

By August, 1910, Jonathan, Rosalind, and their children were back in Honan. Goforth wasrequired by the Home Board of his church to spend less time preaching at revival meetings. Heand Rosalind were assigned to Weihuifu. In 1914, they returned to Changte. Jonathan gave partof his time to helping start churches in Honan and part of his time training Chinese evangelists.In 1915, Knox College awarded Jonathan an honorary Doctorate of Divinity. Jonathan andRosalind,in that same year, went on a tour of China Inland Mission stations south of the YangtzeRiver, during which Jonathan preached at many revival meetings. By the end of the tour, hishealth, which had been precarious before the tour, was much worse. The Goforth family returnedto Canada in 1916 and the next year was spent in rest. The Goforths were back in China by thefall of 1917 to face a serious personal and professional crisis. Jonathan had felt for some timethat some missionaries coming to the field were not fully committed to the Christian faith as heunderstood it and were not preaching the full Christian Gospel. This was a part of the greaterfundamentalist-modernist conflict which was gaining impetus throughout Protestant churches inNorth America. Because Jonathan could not accept a Presbytery decision to allow bothfundamentalists and liberals to preach as they felt led, he sent his resignation to the Home Board. The Board allowed him to remain a member of the mission, but removed him from anyresponsibility for the Changte field. He was now free to evangelize where he chose in China. Afamily home was built in Kikungshan (Jigongshan in the Pinyin romanization), but Jonathan andRosalind spent most of the next few years traveling.

In 1919, the Goforths received an invitation from the warlord Feng Yu-hsiang to hold meetingsfor his troops. Feng had himself been converted at a meeting led by John R. Mott. He wascalled, especially by missionaries, the Christian General. Besides his faith, he was also knownfor the orderly conduct of his troops and his efforts to supply his men with a vocational educationas well as training as soldiers. Both Jonathan and Rosalind became friends and strong supportersof Feng. Jonathan preached to his troops several times in the coming years.

In 1920, Honan and other parts of north central China faced severe famine. Rosalind wrotearticles for western magazines and newspapers and helped administer the funds that were raisedto buy relief supplies. The Chinese government later gave her a medal in recognition of herefforts. Later the same year, she and Jonathan went on a speaking tour of south China, and thenspent time working with Feng's army in Honan. At about the same time, Rosalind published twobooks, Chinese Diamonds for the King of Kings (1920) and How I Know God Answers Prayer(1921). In 1923, Rosalind had to return to Canada because of poor health. In the spring of 1924Jonathan joined her there on furlough. It was probably at this time that he started the GoforthEvangelistic Fund, which raised funds to support Chinese evangelists in Manchuria.

The Presbyterian Church in Canada was debating whether to unite with other churches in thecountry. Partly because he feared that the liberal tendencies in the proposed union would be verystrong, Jonathan voted against it. The Presbyterian Church in Canada was maintained as aseparate organization. The North Honan field as a mission, however, went into the Union. Consequently, the Goforths were without a mission field. Jonathan was commissioned by thechurch to find a new field of service for their missionaries. He returned with Rosalind to Chinain early 1926. Their daughter, Mary, returned with them along with her husband, Rev. RobertMoynan. However, the Moynans had to return to Canada in 1927. After many false starts anddead ends, Jonathan received a letter from Rev. James McCammon suggesting that he considerManchuria. In January, 1927, Jonathan, Rosalind, and three other missionaries traveled to theirnew field, the territory west of the Southern Manchurian Railway. The major station for the fieldwas established at Szepingkai on May 1, 1927. The next eight years were extraordinarily busy. Jonathan continued to hold evangelistic meetings in addition to establishing churches and helpingto train new missionaries. He and Rosalind wrote a book about their experiences entitledMiracle Lives of China, which was published in 1931. With the help of his son Fred, he preparedanother book, By My Spirit, which was about Christian revivals in China and which waspublished after Jonathan's death. Rosalind, as she had been doing for many years, wrote articlesabout the work for western magazines and newspapers and sent hundreds of letters to supporters. She also did evangelistic work among women. By 1935, there were two resident missionarystations (Szepingkai and Taonan) and 30 outstations. There were seven western missionaries(including Jonathan, Rosalind, and their son Paul) and 61 Chinese evangelists and Bible women. Besides the work among Chinese and Manchus, there was a Mongolian evangelist who preachedto his people. Jonathan's principle associate and eventual successor as head of the mission wasAllan Reoch.

The Goforths had a furlough to Canada in 1930. During the furlough, Rosalind had a successfuloperation for cataracts. However, Jonathan also developed cataracts and the operation on hisright eye was not successful. By April, 1931, he was completely blind in his right eye. In May,Jonathan, Rosalind, and Paul returned to Manchuria, where the work was hampered by shortagesof workers and funds. However, the growth in the number of converts and baptisms continued. (By 1934, there had been 2,554 people baptized and a community of 3,261 Christians was servedby the mission.) Jonathan became completely blind in March, 1933. With the help of a Chinesecompanion, he continued to preach at evangelistic meetings and direct the mission. However, hishealth continued to decline and when Rosalind, too, became ill in December, 1934, they decidedthe time had come to return to Canada for good.

Through much of 1935 and 1936, Jonathan led evangelistic meetings throughout Canada. Butmany ministers in the church denounced his preaching as emotional or reactionary and would notlet him preach in their pulpits. The controversies and the extensive speaking tours took their tollof his strength. On October 8, 1936, he died in his sleep.

Rosalind continued to live in Toronto, where she and Jonathan had settled on their return fromChina. She spoke and wrote to help raise money for the mission in Manchuria. She also wrotetwo books based on the work of her husband and herself: Goforth of China (1937) and Climbing(1940). The latter was her autobiography. She died May 31, 1942, of angina.

Other significant information

Jonathan when a young man read the autobiography of Robert Murray M'Cheyne, an evangelist to the Jews, and felt called to become a minister. While listening to a sermon by G. L. MacKay, a Presbyterian missionary to Formosa, he felt the call to be a missionary.


2.70 Cubic Feet (4 Boxes, Microfilm, Oversize Materials, Photos, Slides)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[NOTE: In the Arrangement description, the notation "Folder 2-5" means Box 2, Folder 5.]

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title

Date Range: 1888-1981

Volume: 2.7 cubic feet

Boxes: 1-4

Geographic coverage: China, Canada

Type of documents: letters, diaries, book and article manuscripts, slides, and photographs.

Correspondents: Jonathan Goforth, Rosalind Goforth, William Wallace Goforth, Robert McQuilkin, Alan Roech, Oswald Smith, James H. Taylor, Helen Van Gordor

Subjects: Life and ministry of the Goforths, North American missions to China in the later 19th and early 20th century, growth of the Christian church in China, political and social developments in China in the late 19th and early 20th centiry, the debate between Christian liberals and fundamentalists in Canada

Notes: Most of the material in the collection is by Jonathan. Folders 1-1, 1-5, 1-6, 1-10, 1-31, 1-32, 2-3, 2-4, 2-6, 2-9, and 2-23 contain material by Rosalind. Folders 1-9, 1-11, 1-12, 1-13, 1-30, and 2-13 contain material by both of them. Folders 1-2, 1-3, 1-7, 1-8, 2-12, and 2-22 contain material written by others about the Goforths or about China. The titles of the folder and their arrangement (alphabetical) was supplied by the archivist.

In July, 1993, boxes 1-3 were microfilmed. The Microfilm Location Record contains a list of the microfilm reels, indicating the contents of each. Although the contents of folders 2-25 through 2-28 are identical with the originals, the dates in the folder titles in the container list at the head of every microfilm reel are somewhat different from that in this guide and on the targets accompanying each folder on the reels. The dates in this guide and on the targets are the correct ones. Some items in folders 1-3, 1-5, 1-9, and 2-24 were added later and hence are not on the microfilm.

Most of the documents in this collection are directly concerned with the Goforth's evangelistic activities. There are few items that predate 1900, perhaps because many of the family's personal papers were destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion. Jonathan's journal in folder 1-14 contains annual reports on the work at Changte from 1889-1899 as well as descriptions of his personal reactions to conditions in China. Folders 2-15 and 2-16 contain notes he took on the history of missions in China, miscellaneous facts about missions, and information on financial support from various sources. Perhaps the Chinese proverbs in folder 2-14 were jotted down as a help in language study. In addition, perhaps some of the undated sermons in box 3 are from this early period. The manuscript in folder 2-1 is apparently by Jonathan. It was written sometime between 1901 and 1936 and describes the first years in China, including a long section on the flight from the Boxers. Folder 1-9 contains a letter written to Jonathan in 1893 by R. P. MacKay asking if he had retained his enthusiasm for mission work.

A notebook in folder 2-18 includes information on Jonathan's activities after his return to China in 1901, including outlines of sermons, annual reports on activities in the Changte mission field, a list of mission expenses, notes on the need for more missions, and information on evangelistic work among Chinese students. There is an interesting section on the annual Hsun Hsuin fair. Jonathan's journal in folder 1-15 covers some of the same time period. (The materials labeled "journal" by the archivist are books that contain Jonathan or Rosalind's daily description of their experiences and observations. Materials labeled "notebook" contain statistics, ideas they jotted down for articles or sermons, annual reports, etc. The journal in folder 1-14 contains both types of material. "Diaries refer to the desk diaries contained in folders 1-11, 1-12, 1-13, and 1-32 have a space for a few lines about each day, although sometimes the writer, whether Jonathan or Rosalind, uses a whole page or more.) The notebook in folder 2-17 appears to be a list of the Bible texts used for sermons given at various meetings between 1902 and 1906.

After 1908, Jonathan became a very prominent evangelist and the journals in folders 1-16 to 1-30 form an extremely interesting record of his experiences. (Folder 1-30 also contains a few pages written by Rosalind Goforth about their activities in 1934.) They describe in detail the response of the congregation, the confessions of sin and other statements made at prayer meetings, and the reactions of missionaries to revivals. (For opposition of missionaries to revival meetings, see especially folder 1-18.) These journals present a vivid picture of the church in China, the activities of Chinese Christians, and the differences of opinion among missionaries over how the Gospel should be presented. Some of the journals also describe meetings held during furloughs, such as the journal in folder 1-19, which contains details on Jonathan's attempts to explain the spiritual awakening in the Far East to Western audiences in 1909 and 1910. This journal includes descriptions of meetings held in Peterburn, New Hampshire; various cities in Canada such as London, Owen Sound, Toronto, and Winnipeg; and the Chinese cities of Chefoo, Teng Chenfu, Hwang Hsui, Lai Choofu, Ping Tu Chou, Hsin Tan, Shanghai, Hang Chou, Hsien (Xianxian in the Pinyin romanization), and Fai Feng. Rosalind's journal in folder 1-31 describes the time spent in England and Scotland in 1910 when they attended the 1910 World Missionary Conference and a Keswick meeting. Folder 2-24 contains some of the sermons Jonathan probably preached during this furlough and folder 1-4 contains copies of the talks he delivered at Keswick.

There is a great deal of correspondence in folder 1-9 from the years 1907 to 1926 when Jonathan was winning renown as an evangelist and Rosalind was writing and involved in famine relief in addition to her mission work. Jonathan's letters to Rosalind describe his excitement at the response he was seeing to his sermons. They also demonstrate his affection for his wife and his concern for the children and their upbringing. The correspondence has quite a bit of information on family relationships. A number of letters are addressed to "Fred," who was the couple's son. Letters to Fred are often concerned with his son's education as well as Jonathan's distress over what he felt to be the unbiblical, corrupting tendencies of liberal and "modernist" elements within Christianity, as do some of the letters Jonathan wrote to Rosalind in 1923. Several letters from 1920 deal with a trip Jonathan and Rosalind took to cities in south China such as Canton (Guangzhou in the Pinyin romanization), Kueilin, Kwangsi (Guangxi in the Pinyin romani-ation), Macao (Aomen in the Pinyin romanization) and Rosalind's description to supporters in North America of Jonathan's preaching activities and her visit to charitable institutions working among the blind. A letter ca. 1939 in folder 1-9 gives a little background on the Goforth Evangelistic Fund, which was established to help support Chinese evangelists in Manchuria. This folder also contains a letter written to Rosalind by her brother Wentworth in 1908 and a 1929 letter from Rosalind to her sister (?) Gertrude.

Additional correspondence, added to the collection 2007, can be found in folders 4-1 through 4-5. The content of these folders consists entirely of family correspondence, almost all of it from Rosalind to her children and their spouses, although there are a few letters from the children to her and a couple from Jonathan. Folder 4-1 contains a letter from Jonathan to Rosalind and a letter from Rosalind to Jonathan. The majority of letters in the box are to Mary Goforth Moynan and her husband Robert (folder 4-4). Many of these were printed Mary’s 1994 autobiography, God Brought Us Through! Almost all of letters to the Moynans are transcribed, presumably as part of the process of preparing the book. A few of the letters in other folders are also transcribed. It is not known who prepared these transcripts, each of which is filed next to the original letter it is based on. Many of the letters and transcripts in box 4 have notes written on them by another hand, commenting or summarizing the letter or suggesting a date. These notes may have been made by Mary Moynan or as part of transcribing the letters for publication. The contents of the letters are a regular mixture of family matters, examples of God’s care and goodness, discussion of the Goforths’ (mainly Jonathan’s) plans for evangelistic work in China and elsewhere, and thoughts on the Christian life. There are many descriptions of the unsettled conditions in China during the 1920s and also of the developing Chinese church. Helen Van Gorder’s letters to her mother in folder 4-2 discuss Rosalind’s books and suggest topics for future ones.

Many of the sermons in folders 2-24, 2-27, 2-28, 3-1 to 3-5 are evangelistic sermons from this period of Jonathan's work, although almost all the sermons are undated. Several sermon notebooks have newspaper clippings and similar material stuck between the pages. Apparently Jonathan used this material for illustrations. The notebooks are apparently older than the clippings, but since the notebooks themselves are undated, the date range given on each folder for these notebooks are dates of the clippings. The notebook in folder 2-17 also included the schedule of various conferences at which he was to speak. Most of these notebooks have a kind of table of contents at the front which lists the topics of the sermons that follow. The notebook in folder 3-2 contains an especially interesting talk on how to prepare for an evangelistic campaign. Also of interest is a series of notes in folder 2-18 by Jonathan about what he perceived as the errors of Roman Catholic dogma.

There is not very much in the collection about Rosalind's famine relief work. Folder 1-5 has a 1921 article she wrote about starvation in northern China and Jonathan's journal in folder 1-28 touches some on the famine around Changte. There are several articles by Rosalind in folders 1-5 and 1-6 which describe evangelistic work.

There is a great deal of information throughout this collection about the friendship of the Goforths with Marshal Feng. Folder 1-4 contains a long fragment from an article by Jonathan which comments favorably on the morality and fitness of Feng and his army. Other articles about Feng can be found in folder 1-2. There are several references in the correspondence in folder 1-9 to Feng and the rumors that were circulating about him in western countries. A letter dated June 6, 1926, describes the maneuvering for power between Feng and Wo fei fu. The journals in folder 1-24 to 1-29 contain many references to meetings with Feng and evangelistic rallies held for his troops.

A very informative source for the work in Manchuria is folder 2-22, which contains typed and printed reports written by Jonathan and by Allan Reoch. They describe year-by-year statistics for baptism, conversions, etc., as well as mentioning the work being done by various missionaries and the activities of Chinese evangelists and Bible women. Some of the same information is also covered in the correspondence for 1927 to 1934 in folder 1-9, but in much greater detail. Folder 1-1 also contains some typed stories from this period. Among the topics discussed are the need for more missionaries, a dispute between Jonathan and one of his co-workers over what her work should be (in this letter, Jonathan describes some of his philosophy for starting up new mission stations), appreciation from converts for the mission's work, Jonathan's operations and final blindness, work among women, demon possession cases, Paul Goforth's duties as treasurer, the effects of the Sino-Japanese War on the mission's activities. A map in the oversize file shows the extent of the mission field in Manchuria. Several letters from 1936 and 1937 between Reoch and Rosalind describe how the work in Manchuria was being continued after the Goforths' departure. Some of the Jonathan's sermons in folder 2-24 are from the Manchurian period. This folder also contains a copy of the last sermon Jonathan preached before his death, a description of the Korean revival.

Folder 1-3 contains obituaries of Jonathan as well as newspaper articles about his funeral. File 1-9 contains some letters from friends of Jonathan commenting favorably on his character and work. After Jonathan's death, Rosalind wrote his biography, Goforth of China, and her autobiography, Climbing. The collection contains manuscript copies of both these works. Goforth is in folder 2-6. There are two copies of Climbing, one handwritten (2-4) and one typed (2-3). All three manuscripts contain material not in the published text, especially Goforth. Folder 1-9 contains letters from people like Oswald Smith and Robert McQuilkin praising Jonathan's biography. Book reviews of Goforth are in folder 1-7. Also related to Rosalind's writing career is the contract in folder 1-8 for the book Miracle Lives of China which she and Jonathan co-authored. Folders 1-1, 2-9, and 2-22 contain poems and anecdotes which she collected.

The one of the last letters in folder 1-9 is a note Rosalind wrote her family when she discovered she had angina. There is also a carbon of a letter she wrote to the Canadian prime minister recommending medical missionary Robert McClure as Canadian minister to China. There are two newspaper obituaries for her in folder 1-3. The memorial book signed by the mourners at her funeral is in folder 2-12. . Folder 4-6 contained a framed, painted Bible verse (Revelation 19:6, “The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth!) with a map of China as a background which Rosalind made for her daughter Mary shortly before she died.

Besides the information of the Goforths' work, there is a great deal of information in the collection that deals with the work of other missionaries or with missions generally. Folder 1-2 contains brochures about the orphanage in China run by Mr. and Mrs. O. E. Berg and the execution by the communists of John Cornelius and Elisabeth Alden Stam in December 1934. Jonathan's journals, mentioned above, describe the work being done at other missions stations, particularly those of the China Inland Mission. The correspondence in folder 1-9 also touches on the activities of various missionaries. Rosalind's description in a 1920 letter of work among the blind has already been mentioned, as have the several letters describing the split between missionaries over modernism and over the value of revivals. There is in this folder an interesting, if brief, 1930 letter from James H. Taylor describing his call to missions. Folder 1-4 contains a 1929 article from Life of Faith concerning Jonathan's impressions of a revival campaign held in Manchuria by Paul Rader and Leland Wang. The manuscript of "The Land of Sinim" in folder 2-7 combines a brief description of Chinese society with a plea for more missionaries. (Sinim is a country refered to in Isaiah 49:12 which Jonathan believed was China.) There is greater detail on the types of activity involved in mission work and the various needs to be met in "The Missionary at Work" in folder 2-8 and in "The Present Responsibility of the Canadian Presbyterian Church to the Heathen" in folder 2-10. The journal in folder 1-15 contains notes on the politics, schools, missions, and evangelization of Korea at the time of Jonathan's 1907 visit. Other references to the Korean revival have been mentioned above.

There is also data about Chinese society and political upheavals. Folder 1-2 contains a copy of a letter by Elizabeth Atwater written to her family as she and her husband were waiting to be executed by the Boxers in which she describes the advance of the foreign army in China. Jonathan's manuscript "Who Caused the Boxer Rebellion" in folder 2-11 describes in detail the domestic corruption and foreign humiliations which he believed caused the conflict. There is material in folder 2-l on the behavior of the Boxer crowds. The letters and journals contain vivid glimpses of such areas of life as transportation, the status of women, farming, and city life. In her 1920 letters, Rosalind describes the bustling and, to her, wicked city of Canton. The references to Feng in letters, journals, and articles usually of necessity contain information on the confused political situation in the twenties in which independent warlords and the leaders of the Nationalist party fought among themselves or formed ever-changing patterns of alliances. In the early thirties, China and Japan entered into the conflict over Manchuria known as the Mukden Incident. A letter of Rosalind's dated October 13, 1931, describes the growing tension that seemed certain to lead to war and comments on the strong sympathy for the Japanese among many westerners. By contrast, several of Jonathan's letters written after the war began condemn what he considered the barbaric conduct of the Japanese army. The slides and photographs in the collection contain many details on Chinese dress and lifestyle in the thirties. Jonathan's journals and letters sometimes contain indications of strong anti-western feelings among some Japanese, such as the journal in folder 1-19 and a letter dated December 17, 1910, both of which describe the same incident. The manuscripts in folder 2-8 and 2-11 contain interesting descriptions of the educated class in China and their reactions to Christianity and the West.

Accruals and Additions

The material in this collection was received from Mary Goforth Moynan in October 1981 and from Robert Joyce in 1996.

Accession 81-103, 81-111, 81-117

April 8, 1982

Robert Shuster M. Armerding

J. Malone

September 9, 1993, updated Robert Shuster M. Larson

P. Winterhalter

August 14, 2007, updated

Accession 96-77

Bob Shuster

January 17, 2014, updated Paul Ericksen

Related Materials

The following items were given to the BGC MUSEUM:

Accession 81-111

Silver engraved plaque, 9-1/2 x 6-1/2.

B Brass Buddha, 4" high with note.

Pioneer Service Pin presented to Mrs. Goforth after 41 years of service in China, Ottawa, 1929.

Two J. Goforth business cards, n.d.

Chinese edition of the Bible, n.d.

2 Banners prepared for the Goforth's farewell.

Collection 188 Papers of Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

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