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Elsie I. Reik papers

Identifier: A 166

Scope and Contents note

The Elsie Reik Letters from Foochow (Fuzhou) China collection consists of outgoing correspondence from Reik, primarily to her family in the United States. They are an unusual collection when set against similar collections on missionary women overseas. They constitute one of the more extensive assemblages of letters written by an overseas missionary; yet, their content is often rather slim and inconsistent. Reik maintained solid ties with her family and friends in the United States. Her letters are filled with reports on other family members and requests for updates. Consequently, many of the letters contain less information on the mission, missionary work, or Chinese political, social, and cultural life than other collections offer. Moreover, there is a significant gap in these voluminous letters from 1934 to 1949.

Despite these shortcomings, the Reik collection does offer some insights on missionary work and on life in Foochow (Fuzhou). She was upset by Chinese marriage traditions that obligated some of her former students to marry non-Christian men. Reik lauded the seeming advances that missionary education provided to female converts and she offered observations on the paradox of the second generation of women students (born into Christian households). Reik said they did not appreciate the struggles that their parents generation had endured--something that opened more options to them. Yet, Reik found these young women to be more ambitious; many of them continued on to universities in China and beyond. The last letters in the Reik collection offer glimpses of the upheaval that communist successes caused in the missionary community in Fuzhou, disturbances that caused Reik to leave China.

For more information on missionary women who resided in China during the same period as Reik, see the Myra Snow Correspondence (A 186), the Myra Anna Jaquet Papers (A 180), and the Elizabeth Wright Papers (A 301); all of these women lived in Tientsin (Tianjin); or the Edith Simister Letters from China (A183) who also lived in Foochow (Fuzhou); or the Clara Dyer Letters from Ch'iangli, China Collection (A 198), who lived in Ch'iangli. All of these collections are housed in Special Collections & University Archives, at the University of Oregon Libraries.


  • Creation: 1922-1950


Conditions Governing Access note

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 note

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 note

A native of Wisconsin, Elsie Reik (1893-1985) joined missionary service in 1922 and was sent to Foochow (Fuzhou) in southeastern China. She worked at the mission school as an educator of female students. Her movements during World War II are unknown. Reik was in Fuzhou in 1949 when the communists came to political power in China. This prompted Reik's return to the United States in 1950.


0.5 linear feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



Elsie Reik was a Christian missionary in Foochow (Fuzhou) China from the 1920s through 1950, when she returned to the United States. The collection consists of correspondence that provides some documentation on missionary work and on life in Foochow (Fuzhou).

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Elsie I. Reik in 1965.

Existence and Location of Copies note

Available in microfilm as part of: Women's lives. Series 3, American women missionaries and pioneers collection (MICROFILM BV3703 .W66 2006, reel 51); Primary Source Microfilm, 12 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525.

General Physical Description note

1 container

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

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

Guide to the Elsie I. Reik papers
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Finding aid prepared by Veta Schlimgen, Manuscripts Processor
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA