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Alzo John Fisher papers

Identifier: Ax 430

Scope and Contents

The Alzo John Fisher Papers contain letters, reports, articles, manuscripts, publications, and other information produced or collected by Fisher, all of which pertain to his missionary service in China. Because he held an administrative role in the church, there is a wealth of dry, bureaucratic information. The collection also contains many histories of Chinese Christian missions, which relate many of the historical, political, and social events in China.

Series I, Correspondence consists of outgoing and incoming letters of Fisher and a few other individuals. Subseries A contains outgoing letters of Fisher, most of which are formal letters detailing current events and matters of mission business. The letter of March 1932 relates rising political conflict between China and Japan, which preceded the Second Sino-Japanese War. Subseries B contains his incoming letters. These letters maintain a business focus, and relate the reports of missions. Subseries C contains more administrative correspondence with some reports on the development of the Communist revolution.

Series II, Reports/Minutes contains the reports of several missionary organizations. Subseries A contains a 1946 report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church to China. Subseries B contains a report concerning the union of the Union Theological College and Lignan University. Subseries C contains miscellaneous reports and minutes of mission organizations affiliated with the Church of Christ, including three annual reports of the Canton mission from 1895, 1896 and 1905.

Series III, Periodicals contains various magazines and newsletters of Christian and missionary groups, typically focusing on the Chinese front. Some of these are very specific to Fisher's sphere of influence and others have a broader scope.

Series IV, Publications and Ephemera contains papers affiliated with specific organizations, miscellaneous papers, a book on mission history and papers in Chinese. Subseries A contains administrative publications of various Chinese missionary organizations. Subseries B contains various publications, predominately in the form of religious or informational pamphlets. There is a map of China and a handful of memoirs in this section. Subseries C contains the History of the South China Mission by Harriet Noyes. This book notes some historical events and references Fisher's work. Subseries D contains of variety of materials with Chinese text. There are some interesting items in this section, including educational primers, pictures with text, school yearbooks, and a war oriented picture book.

Series V, Literary Manuscripts, contains a book length manuscript by Fisher, shorter manuscripts, drafts, and notes. Subseries A contains the lengthy manuscript for Building a Christian Church in China. Along with church history, this manuscript contains brief mention of historical events from 1922-1942. Subseries B contains a second version of this manuscript and has a helpful table of contents. Subseries C contains fragments, notes, appendices and indices for this manuscript. Subseries D contains a history of the Presbyterian mission in China. At its conclusion there is an outline of historical events of the corresponding time period. Some details of the Second Sino-Japanese War are related on page 35. Subseries E contains fragments of this manuscript. Subseries F contains a chapter of a book, and details the histories of many Presbyterian synods with some attention to historical events. Subseries G is a biography of Leung Ah Faat, the first ordained minister of the Protestant church in China. Ah Faat was a unique figure and this manuscript contains many interesting stories from the 19th century, including a description of the Taiping Rebellion.

Series VI, Literary Manuscript by W. H. Dobson, contains a book length manuscript, History of South China Mission. This book presents a chronological history with great attention to social and political events like the Taiping rebellion, the Boxer rebellion, the Linchow massacre, the National revolution, Communist uprisings, and the Second Sino-Japanese War. There is also some interesting cultural commentary, provided with a Christian slant.

Series VII, Miscellaneous Writings contains writings by Fisher, Dobson, and other authors, along with histories and some biographical information. Subseries A contains typed manuscripts and articles by Fisher, addressing general Chinese topics. Subseries B contains similar writings by Dobson. Subseries C contains predominately administrative articles from various authors. Subseries D contains various mission histories, including some which focus on schools. Subseries E contains biographical information of Fisher and includes two chronologies and a brief story.

Series VIII, Photographs consists of photographs, postcards and newsprint pictures. This section contains an image of Fisher, several pictures of Chinese Christian students and adults, and postcards of Shanghai.

Series IX, News Clippings contains typed manuscripts, religious pamphlets, newspaper clippings and articles from religious periodicals. Several articles describe Japanese bombings of China during the Sino-Japanese War. An article from the Fullerton News-Tribune contains an interview with Fisher and his prediction that the "Chinese will overcome communism."

Series X, Oversize contains publications, unidentified Chinese texts and a map of China. The publications contain articles focusing on Chinese subjects.


  • Creation: 1922-1957


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

Alzo John Fisher was a Presbyterian minister in China from 1902 to 1947. He was born August 20, 1877 in Cleves, Iowa and raised nearby in Ackley. He graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids in 1899. He then attended Princeton seminary, graduating in 1902. He received his Doctor of Divinity from Coe in 1916.

Fisher became a missionary in South China in 1902 after his graduation from seminary college. He married Amenda Elliott shortly after his arrival; she had arrived the prior year. Two years after Amenda died in 1927, Fisher married Dorothy MacKeown in 1930. He had two sons of undetermined maternity.

His first 15 years of missionary service were spent in Sheklung, a rural community, where he established many village chapels, the Sheklung Church, Christian schools and a training center. From 1919 to 1940, Fisher was a member of the Canton Evangelistic Association. Later, he worked with Y. S. Tom, General Secretary of the Kwongtung Synod of the Church of Christ in China. Fisher was concerned with developing Chinese Christian leaders and a self-supporting church in China. His dedication to the Chinese people is evident in this collection, and can be contrasted with the attitudes of many other missionaries. From 1937 to 1940, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, he resided in Canton and looked after a Chinese refugee camp of some 3,000 mothers and children. During World War II, Fisher became associate general secretary to Tom. He was placed under house arrest by the Japanese in December of 1941 and later moved into an internment camp in Shanghai, where he wrote a history of the Church of Christ in China. Fisher repatriated in 1944; he returned to the General Assembly of the Church of Christ in 1946. A prolific writer, Fisher was also interested in Chinese culture and history.

In 1947, Fisher retired from missionary service to Pasadena, California. He became a member of the Los Angeles Presbytery, representing them with the Board of Foreign Missions. During his retirement he was a member in several senior citizen's groups, and edited one of their publications, the Vanguard Bulletin, until his death, December 17, 1967.


3 linear feet (7 containers)

Language of Materials



Alzo John Fisher was a Christian missionary. The Alzo John Fisher papers comprise letters, reports, articles, manuscripts, publications, and other information produced or collected by Fisher, all of which pertain to his missionary service in China. The collection also includes histories of Chinese Christian missions, which discuss many of the historical, political, and social events in China.


Collection is organized into the following series: Series I. Correspondence, Subseries A. Outgoing, Subseries B. Incoming, Subseries C. Other; Series II. Reports/Minutes, Subseries A. Report of the Deputation of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church of the USA to China 1946, Subseries B. Papers concerning the proposed union of Union Theological College and Lingnan University, Subseries C. Reports/Minutes; Series III. Periodicals; Series IV. Publications and Ephemera, Subseries A. Concerning specific organizations, Subseries B. Miscellaneous publications and ephemera, Subseries C. Book. History of the South China Mission, Subseries D. Publications and ephemera in Chinese; Series V. Literary Manuscripts by A. J. Fisher. Subseries A. Building a Christian Church in China-1st version, Subseries B. Building a Christian Church in China-2nd version, Subseries C. Building a Christian Church in China-fragments, Subseries D. Presbyterianism in China, Subseries E. Presbyterianism in China-fragments, Subseries F. Synods of the Church of Christ in China (Chapter II of Four Hundred Years of World Presbyterianism), Subseries G. Leung Ah Faat: Hero of the Christian Faith; Series VI. Literary Manuscript by W. H. Dobson; History of the South China Mission; Series VII. Miscellaneous Writings. Subseries. Subseries A. By A.J. Fisher, Subseries B. By W. H. Dobson, Subseries C. Miscellaneous writings, Subseries D. History, Subseries E. Biographical information on A. J. Fisher; Series VIII. Photographs; Series IX. News Clippings; and Series X. Oversize.

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 Alzo John Fisher Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Matt Kimlinger and Aaron Poor.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Finding aid written 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