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Thelma Mills papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Ax 857

Scope and Contents

The collection contains diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, travel mementos, postcards, and photographs.

The two diaries Mills kept during the period 1925-1927 when she was in China reveal only a few social and political observations. Most entries concern her friends, sister (who was the head of the Home Economics Department at Yenching University in Peking, China from 1922-1933), fellow teachers, school politics, travel, purchases, food, and social events. Included are entries regarding self-evaluations of her teaching, as well as student performance.

The diaries from Taiwan (1968-1971) reveal information about business matters, travel, social events, purchases, and reactions of the people in Taiwan. Observations of political events are also included. There are eleven total diaries for this period.

Correspondence is separated into incoming and outgoing sections.

Outgoing correspondence includes two notebooks entitled "War Letters" and contain information and impressions of the civil war in China. Photographs of Chinese soldiers are included. This section also includes letters to her family during 1925-1927.

Incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically by organization title, last name, or first name of sender. There are also twelve incoming postcards.

Manuscripts consist of speeches entitled "China Today," and "I have known 2 China's, But There is a Third." Material includes reference material used, notes, photographs, articles, and maps. There is also a typed draft of a manuscript titled, Chinese New Year.

Miscellaneous material includes travel mementos, photographs, a list of addresses of "all American citizens in Tientsin, China in 1927," pages of expenses and receipts from China, ship passenger lists (1925; 1927), a school exercise notebook containing student essays, newspaper clippings, and postcards from Taiwan.

Also available are over 900 photographs, including photos from China.


  • Creation: 1925-1976


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Thelma Mills graduated from Willamette University in 1923. Mills began her career by teaching high school English in Raymond, Washington. From 1925 until the 1970's Mills worked with foreign students, particular Chinese students, in the US and abroad.

From 1925-1927 Mills taught English and choir at Methodist Missionary school in Tientsin, China. During that time she observed the Chinese civil war and traveled throughout China, taking many photographs.

From 1928-1930 Mills tutored Chinese students at International House in New York City. In 1930, she became a foreign student advisor at Whitman College and remained until 1950. From 1968 till 1971 Mills worked for the YWCA in Taipei, Taiwan.


1.5 linear feet (1 container) : 1 record storage box

Language of Materials



Thelma Mills worked in education, primarily with foreign students, in China, Taiwan and in the US; while in China (1925-1927) she observed the Chinese civil war. The collection contains diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, travel mementos, postcards, and photographs, 1925-1976.


Material within this collection is minimally arranged. Any arrangement is either derived from the records' creators or custodians or from staff at the time of initial processing. It may be necessary to look in multiple places for the same types of materials.

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections & University Archives.

Existence and Location of Copies

Collection is available online in the Papers of American Missionaries to Asia: Missionaries associated with Fujian and Taiwan, 1889-1976 in Gale Primary Resources.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nancy Hoos, 1979.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal organization and rehousing.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents.

Guide to the Thelma Mills Papers
Complete Description
Tanya Parlet and Kira B. Homo.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA