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Arthur Henderson Smith papers

 Collection
Identifier: MC 101

Scope and Contents

This collection includes many examples of Arthur Henderson Smith's original writing, such as correspondence, a Civil War diary, biographies, and handwritten manuscripts, along with published versions of his various articles and books. There are also some articles about Smith, photographs, and an autograph book Smith kept featuring signatures and handwritten notes from many prominent figures of the 19th century, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, P. T. Barnum, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Millard Fillmore, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and William Howard Taft.

The diary, autograph book, and other select writings are accompanied by transcriptions. Several other published volumes are cataloged in the Beloitana special collection housed in the Beloit College Archives.

Dates

  • 1852-1932, 1964, 1989-1992

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research; however, certain materials are fragile and require Archives staff for handling, or use may be restricted altogether.

Biographical / Historical

Excerpted with edits from the Claremont Courier (September 2, 1932), selections from the Beloit Alumnus (December, 1927), and other primary source materials from the collection.

Dr. Arthur Henderson Smith was born in Vernon, Connecticut, July 18, 1845, the son of a Congregational minister. He enlisted as a volunteer in Company B, 40th infantry of Wisconsin, and served in the Civil War in the year 1864.

He was graduated by Beloit College in 1867 and studied in Andover Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York, in preparation for the work to which he had dedicated himself upon the foreign field.

In 1871 he was married to Emma Jane Dickinson of Beloit, Wisconsin. Together they went to China under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1872, where he served continuously for 54 years. His remarkable abilities as scholar and as administrator began early to manifest themselves. Very few men have known Chinese life so intimately or have been able to interpret it so accurately and vividly.

Nine volumes have come from his pen, including Chinese Characteristics, which has been translated into French, German, Chinese and Japanese, and The Uplift of China, which has been translated into German, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

Dr. Smith has much to do in organizing and distributing Chinese relief during various famines which have devastated China. He was present at the siege of Peking during the Boxer raid in 1900; and when the Chinese government proposed to pay to the United States an indemnity, he made a trip to America to suggest to President Theodore Roosevelt the return of the indemnity with the idea that it be used to make possible education of promising Chinese youths in American colleges. President Roosevelt cordially approved and put into operation the suggestion of Dr. Smith. Through his interview with Roosevelt, Arthur Smith inaugurated a change in Western policies toward China, a tendency toward fair and equal friendship.

In 1906 the American Board asked that he be relieved of all local responsibilities that he might become missionary-at-large to interpret through his voice and his pen the meaning of the missionary movement in this rapidly changing world.

Dr. Smith died on August 31, 1932 in Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California. He and his wife Emma had three children. One daughter, Florence, died at one month old. Another daughter, Marie, lived to the age of 18. Their son, Henry Dickinson Smith was graduated from Beloit College in 1902 and later became student secretary of the institution. He was drowned in Lake Geneva on August 8, 1906 while making a heroic but unsuccessful attempt to rescue a companion.

Extent

1 Linear Foot (3 boxes)

Overview

Arthur Henderson Smith, Beloit College class of 1867, was a Civil War veteran and prominent missionary to China, along with his wife Emma, best friend and classmate Henry Porter, and Porter's wife, Elizabeth Chapin Porter, and sister, Mary Porter. Smith wrote many volumes on China for Western audiences, including Chinese Characteristics, Village Life in China, and The Uplift of China. He was in Shandong during the Boxer Rebellion and was instrumental in the United States returning China's indemnity for use in educating Chinese students in American schools.

This collection includes many examples of A. H. Smith's original writing, such as correspondence, a Civil War diary, biographies, and handwritten manuscripts, along with published versions of his various articles and books. There are also articles about Smith, photographs, and an autograph book Smith kept featuring signatures and handwritten notes from many prominent figures of the 19th century.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The autograph book and selected materials were the gift of Francis C. Tucker. Mr. Tucker was born in China and grew up with well-known Beloit alums, including Arthur Henderson Smith and Henry and Elizabeth (Chapin) Porter. Mr. Tucker's brother, the late Arthur Smith Tucker, was named after Arthur Henderson Smith.

In 1989, Arthur H. Smith's Civil War 100-Day Diary was donated to the Beloit College Archives by the Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, where Smith lived and died. The transaction was a result of Beloit College Professor of History Nelson Van Valen requesting to view the diary in order to transcribe it. Documentation on the donation and transcription is included in the collection.

A copy of Smith's book China in Convulsion was a gift to the Beloit College Library from Ellen Chapin.

Related Materials

Title
Arthur Henderson Smith papers
Status
Completed
Author
Michelle Tom
Date
March, 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Beloit College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
700 College St.
Beloit WI 53511 USA
608-363-2485