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Myra Snow papers

Identifier: A 186

Scope and Contents note

The collection offers a very brief, though descriptive glimpse into the political struggles and social transitions that took place in northern China during the early 1930s. While Snow's perspective, that of an American missionary, was limited, her letters offer insightful commentaries beyond the walls of the Keen School mission in Tientsin.

Similar to her fellow missionaries, Snow narrated cultural and social differences she encountered in Tientsin to her American readers. Her letters describe currency, a trip to Peking [Beijing], a Chinese play, and Chinese New Year celebrations as well as attempts to eliminate the lunar New Year. She was also attentive to the poverty and suffering that her neighbors endured. These differences prompted Snow to tell her family that after three months of teaching, she needed a vacation in order to escape the "constant association with an alien people [the Chinese]" as well as the "constant political and economic unrest" (14 January 1929).

Indeed, Snow offers other observations on events and persons not directly associated with the mission. In this regard, the Snow collection is unique. Many of the related collections associated with the lives of missionary women in the University of Oregon's Special Collections & University Archives do not offer similar references. Snow commented on the seeming local popularity of the "Christian General" (Feng Yu-hsiang or Feng Yuxiang) as well as his fall from grace as part of anti-Christian movements. She offered details on the convergence of traditional Chinese culture with Christianity in events such as a memorial service and a wedding. On her vacation to Beijing, Snow described sights like camel pack trains and the rebuilt summer palace but she also commented on the difficulty of creating equal opportunity in China. This seems to be something that concerned Snow. Elsewhere, she lamented the popularity of communism. While she argued that communism and Christianity shared the same goal--"lifting... people out of the depths of degradation," she believed Christianity the better way to accomplish this goal.

There is a significant gap in the Snow collection from 1931 to 1936. Her correspondence resumed in 1937 and describes the Japanese take-over of Tientsin. This collection includes the Myra Jaquet account of the internment of American missionaries after 1941. Researchers should consult related collections housed in this repository such as the Myra Jaquet Papers (A 180), the Clara Dyer Letters from Ch'angli collection (A 198), the Edith Shufeldt Papers (A 208) and the Edith Winifred Simester Letters from China collection (A 183).


  • Creation: 1928-1944


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

Myra Snow entered Methodist missionary work in the late 1920s and began teaching in Tientsin, in northern China, in the fall of 1928. A native of Los Angeles, Snow taught at Keen School (associated with Gamewell School), an all girls' institution, throughout the 1930s. Along with other American (and British) missionaries, Snow was interned by the Japanese in 1941 as a prisoner of war. She was repatriated to the U.S. in 1943, and the collection offers no clues about her life after World War II.


0.25 linear feet (4 containers) : 4 folders

Language of Materials



Myra Snow was a Methodist missionary in Tientsin, northern China from the late 1920s through the early 1940s. The collection comprises letters that reflect her work as a missionary.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Myra L. Surn in 1966.

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 53); Primary Source Microfilm, 12 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525.

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 Myra Snow papers
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Finding aid prepared by Veta Schlimgen, Manuscripts Processor
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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