Beyond Gentility: The Mission of Women Educators at Yenching

in Journal of American-East Asian Relations
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Abstract

American missionaries in the early years of the twentieth century viewed China’s women as a vast resource for conversion and for leadership.“The only college for women in the northern half of China,”proclaims the brochure North China Union Women’s College in 1919.“The only chance of 200,000,000 people to secure a higher education for their daughters; the only institution to which an ancient but newly awakening people can look for highly trained leadership for its womanhood just now in the throes of confusion because of the passing of the old and the imperfect understanding of the new.” Such inspirational rhetoric, reiterated in pamphlets and circular letters intended to open the minds and purses of donors in the United States, hardly hints at the problems faced, during the May Fourth movement and its aftermath, by two dedicated American administrators who struggled to establish, expand, and maintain higher education for China’s women.

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