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Emily Hatfield Hobart papers

Identifier: A 188

Scope and Contents

The Emily Hatfield Hobart Papers consist of Mrs. Hobart’s outgoing correspondence, along with a few letters variously exchanged between Rev. Hobart, Mrs. Hobart’s mother, and the four children. The collection also includes a short typewritten account of Elizabeth Hobart’s experiences in a prisoner-of-war camp during the Japanese occupation of China in WWII. The majority of the letters predates the twentieth century, and while they are all quite legible, their fragility demands that they be handled very carefully.

The Hobart collection is organized into four series, each of which is arranged chronologically.

Series I: Outgoing Correspondence from Mrs. Hobart makes up most of the collection and primarily consists of letters written to Mrs. Hobart’s mother, along with a few others to her father, sister, and brothers. Of particular note here are the descriptions of Mrs. Hobart’s many pregnancies, the evolution of her daily routine of childcare and homeschooling, and her attitudes toward native Chinese men and women as she interacts with them through mission work. Also remarkable is the final folder in this series, which contains letters which document the burgeoning political conflict, ending with an unfinished letter (which Rev. Hobart completed and posted) written moments before Mrs. Hobart’s death.

Series II: Outgoing Correspondence from Rev. Hobart contains a few letters to the couple’s children beginning just after Mrs. Hobart’s sudden death and ends with Rev. Hobart’s return to Evanston, Illinois.

Series III: Miscellaneous Correspondence compiles random letters exchanged between the Hobarts’ four children and between the children and their maternal grandmother.

Series IV: Elizabeth Hobart’s “Friendship Village” is the story of Ms. Hobart’s experiences with a group of British and American prisoners-of-war during six months of internment by the invading Japanese Army in 1943.


  • 1884-1943


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

Emily Hatfield Hobart’s legacy is one of self-sacrifice, and her papers are remarkable for the perspective they offer on the domestic affairs of missionary life in China. Born August 14, 1860, Emily Hatfield spent her young life in Evanston, Illinois, was educated at Northwestern University. She married Reverend William M. Hatfield in 1881, then joined him on a Methodist mission to China. Arriving there in 1882, the Hobarts first lived in Peking for several years (with annual summer vacations in the western highlands to avoid the seasonal epidemics of smallpox and scarlet fever sweeping the crowded city), as Rev. Hobart acclimated to the demands of missionary work. Mrs. Hobart meanwhile studied Mandarin in order to better teach groups of native women the Christian doctrine, a task which she undertook with considerable disdain. A dedicated daughter to her adoring parents, and a loving sister to her three siblings, Mrs. Hobart similarly committed herself to beginning and keeping a large family. She was pregnant for most of her young life, losing several children to prenatal and early childhood complications while also raising to maturity two daughters, Elizabeth (“Bessie”) and Louisa (“Louie”), and two sons, Robert (“Bob”) and Marcus.

Since western elementary education was unavailable, Mrs. Hobart took responsibility for her childrens’ schooling, which added considerably to the demands of her daily life. Once Rev. Hobart received charge of a mission, the family moved west to Tsun Hua in 1893, although civil troubles began there shortly afterward in 1895. Although she made clear her devotion to raising her family in China, Mrs. Hobart grew increasingly lonely for her relations in the U.S. following another miscarriage in 1896. Her uneasiness was compounded by two months’ convalescence from a nearly fatal illness during the summer of 1898, and when Mrs. Hobart recovered she ended seventeen continuous years in China as she and her children went to live with her mother in Florida.

After her children were grown, however, Mrs. Hobart travelled back to her husband in Peking in 1909, returning alone to the U.S. in 1913. In 1927 Mrs. Hobart rejoined her husband for work in the large Shautung mission, just as major civil strife began with Chiang Kai-shek’s three-year terror campaign against hundreds of thousands of communists in Chinese cities. Although she was encouraged to leave Shautung for safety in Tsinan on April 28, 1928, Mrs. Hobart felt she would be deserting her duty, and she remained along with her husband within the mission compound for protection. However, on the following day Mrs. Hobart was fatally shot through a window of her home by nationalist troops firing over the compound’s walls. Rev. Hobart succeeded her in death shortly after his return to the U.S. in April, 1932.

In memory of her sacrifice, Northwestern University erected an all-women’s dormitory in 1928 which was named Hobart House in honor of Mrs. Emily Hatfield Hobart as an alumna. Today, this building houses the university’s Women’s Residential College.


0.25 linear feet

Language of Materials



Emily Hatfield Hobart was an Christian missionary to China. The collection includes her outgoing correspondence, as well as a few letters exchanged among Rev. Hobart, Mrs. Hobart's mother, and Mrs. Hobart's four children. The collection also includes a short typewritten account of Elizabeth Hobart's experiences with a group of British and American prisoners-of-war during six months of internment in China by the invading Japanese Army in 1943. Of particular note in Mrs. Hobart's correspondence are the descriptions of Mrs. Hobart's many pregnancies, the evolution of her daily routine of childcare and home-schooling, and her attitudes toward Chinese men and women. Also remarkable are letters which document the political conflict in China, including an unfinished letter written moments before her death.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection has been microfilmed. Microfilm reels are available for purchase, or via Inter-library Loan. When requesting reels for this collection, please request: “Women’s Lives, Series 3, American Women Missionaries and Pioneers Collection, reel(s) 1."

Microfilms of this collection have been digitized. Digital images prepared from microfilm copies are available upon request from Special Collections & University Archives, and available online through Gale’s "Women's Studies Archive: Women’s Issues and Identities."

General Physical Description note

1 container

Processing Information

Collection processed by Bryan Duncan, July 2002.

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 Emily Hatfield Hobart Papers
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Finding aid prepared by University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team
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Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA