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Papers of Myra Carpenter (1900-1978)

Identifier: CSWC 18

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of: letters from Carpenter to her parents sometimes enclosing letters from others (1922-1951); notes, correspondence, reports and other material relating to Tanishan Orphanage (1924-1954); reminiscences, notes, articles, addresses and talks by Carpenter on her time in China and on women in China (1928-1960s); pamphlets, circulars and other material relating to the China Inland Mission (also OMF) and the British and Foreign Bible Society (from circa 1920s mainly 1951-1970); pamphlets and newspaper cuttings on China, Taiwan and Christianity (1943-1970s); material (some Chinese language) used for preaching and teaching (circa 1920s-1940s); and musical scores, maps, photograph and pictures.


  • Creation: 20th century

Language of Materials

English Chinese

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details.

Conditions Governing Use

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Biographical / Historical

Myra Carpenter (known as Mollie) was a China Inland Mission missionary in Szechwan (Sichuan), China. After having her first application turned down she was accepted for missionary training by the CIM in London in 1925. She left for China in October 1928 arriving in Yangchow in December where she spent some time studying the language. In April 1929 she began her journey to Szechwan where she was to spend most of her working life. From August 1930 she was based in Kwangyuan near Paoning (Langchung) sometimes spending time at Sintientsi. Her time was occupied with learning the language, taking classes and meetings, and, when possible, travelling through the surrounding country evangelising. Between 1933 and 1935 increasing unrest meant that Carpenter was evacuated from the Paoning area four times. She spent periods at Mienchow, Liangshan, Chühsien, Chienkoh, Chongking, and Tienkiang before settling in Tahsien (or Suiting) in November 1935. She remained there until she went on furlough between April 1936 and September 1938. On her return to China she spent some time in Shanghai before leaving in December 1938 for Tanishan near Paoning which she reached at Easter 1939. At Tanishan she was in charge of the mission's orphanage but also spent time taking classes and travelling to surrounding towns and villages such as Chienfuhchang. She continued to view the evangelical side of her work as important and regarded the area in which she worked as her 'parish'. Her next furlough was from May 1947 until October 1948. On her return to China she was based in Paoning but continued to visit the surrounding area and the orphanage at Tanishan. With the arrival of the communists she found her work increasingly difficult and finally left China in early 1951. Once back in England she reluctantly accepted that her health would not allow her to work in any of the Mission's new fields in Asia. She settled at her late mother's house in Chippenham and did some work as a companion to elderly ladies and occasionally in rest homes. She also wrote articles, presented classes on China and took classes on religious themes as well as representing the British and Foreign Bible Society. She continued to keep in touch with developments in China by collecting news cuttings and articles until her death in the 1970s.


6 boxes


The material was arranged either by Myra Carpenter, or later by Ralph Covell, into series such as correspondence, diary material, news-cuttings and photographs. These distinctions have been kept although there are some overlaps.

Custodial History

On her return to England Myra Carpenter went through the letters she had written to her family, and made extensive notes from them, using them as the basis for the diary material and some of the addresses that are in the collection, along with other material accumulated by her. The papers were originally offered to an anthropological museum in Cambridge. The museum kept Carpenter's photographs which were copied onto slides and the slides were returned to the Carpenter family with the rest of the material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were presented to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western world by her family. The collection was briefly listed, and further reorganised, by Ralph Covell in 1992.


None expected.

Related Materials

The archives of the China Inland Mission (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) are held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Davies, Hannah. Among Hills and Valleys in Western China. London: S. W. Partridge and Co., 1901 describes CIM missionary work east Szechwan but at an earlier period.


The original photographs are in Cambridge.


The biographical history was compiled using the collection itself.

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