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Collection of Papers of Alexander Ramsay Mackenzie (1879-1929) and Eliza Jane Mackenzie (1879-1977)

Identifier: CSWC 19

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of: material relating to Chinese phonetics including "alphabet blocks" and the New Testament in Chinese phonetic script (c 1920s); some further items relating to the Mackenzies' time in Manchuria, these are mainly artefacts or printed reports and pamphlets (1920s-1951); a small amount of correspondence about and reports on the mission including correspondence with Chinese Christians from the 1960s; lecture and other notes by Ellie Mackenzie on theological and mission subjects; (scanned) copies of photographs of the Mackenzies and missionary work in Manchuria; and coloured posters used in evangelism and teaching.


  • Creation: [ca. 1906]-2001

Language of Materials

English Chinese

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details. This collection is open. [Decision date 17 March 2022]

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the repository for details.

Biographical / Historical

Alexander Ramsay Mackenzie, missionary with the United Free Church of Scotland in Manchuria, was born in Edinburgh on 12 April 1879. His family moved to Glasgow in the 1890s and he attended Glasgow University (the United Free Church Hall, later Trinity College) where he graduated MA, BD. He went to China as a missionary in 1907 where he worked until his death at Hing King in 1929 from typhus contracted while preaching in the local prison. He worked in the district around Liaoyang, then in 1911 was transferred to Kaiyuan and in 1913 moved to Yungling-Hing-king. He was involved in pastoral work, and was a noted administrator, acting as secretary and treasurer for the mission as well as serving on several committees such as the Moukden Medical College board of management. A scholarly man, he applied himself to the study of Mandarin and developed phonetic systems which standardised and assisted pronunciation and were in widespread use. His linguistic ability, accuracy, attention to detail and unselfishness won him the admiration of the Chinese authorities and people. In 1910 he married Eliza Jane Miller (Ellie) who had been born in Glasgow on 31 January 1879 to a family with strong missionary connections. She studied medicine at Glasgow University and graduated MC, ChB in 1903. After working in her father's practice for some time, in 1906 she was appointed a medical missionary in Manchuria, also with the United Free Church of Scotland. The Mackenzies spent a year in Scotland in 1928 while Alexander produced his survey Church and Missions in Manchuria. Ellie Mackenzie had resigned from the mission on her marriage but after her husband's death she rejoined as an evangelical missionary and started a successful bible school for women. She retired in 1940 but was delayed in Canada during the War and studied at the Canadian School of Missions in Toronto (1940-43) until her return to Scotland in 1944. She lived in Glasgow until her death in 1977. The Mackenzies had two daughters, Isabel born in 1913, and Frances who was born in 1917. Both studied at Edinburgh University, Isabel went back to Manchuria as a missionary and Frances became a language teacher working in England, France and Scotland.


2 boxes (4 posters)


The material is in two boxes arranged as follows: material relating to Alexander Mackenzie; material relating to Ellie Mackenzie; correspondence and photographs; printed material; Chinese language and phonetic material; and other Chinese items.

Custodial History

Most of the papers were given to Frances Mackenzie by her parents.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were presented to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World by Frances Mackenzie in 1992 and in 2001. The photographs were scanned and the originals returned to Miss Mackenzie. Ralph Covell made a brief list of the collection in 1992.


None expected.

Related Materials

The archives of the foreign missions of the Church of Scotland are held by the National Library of Scotland, they include correspondence with Alexander Mackenzie (1906-1928) and with Eliza Mackenzie (1905-1929); Alexander Mackenzie wrote Church and Missions in Manchuria (London: World Dominion Press, 1928) a survey of the missions in Manchuria; CSWC holds the papers of several other missionaries in Manchuria and transcripts of an interview with the Mackenzies' daughter (see small collections: Ralph Covell).; Austin Fulton in Through Earthquake Wind and Fire (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1967) describes the missionary work in Manchuria and includes a list of sources.


The originals of the photographs are held by the Mackenzie family.


The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) the collection itself, (2) interviews with Frances Mackenzie in 1992 and 2001.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379