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Margaret Moninger papers

Identifier: Ax 705

Scope and Contents

The Margaret Moninger Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, various publications, a scrapbook, photographs, and a two volume Hainese – English dictionary. This collection provides a wealth of information on the distinctive culture of Hainan.

Series I, Correspondence contains three letters of outgoing correspondence sent to the son of a fellow missionary and to Moninger’s father and one letter of incoming correspondence from a Presbyterian administrator, praising Moninger’s book The Isle of Palms.

Series II, Manuscripts consists of various writings. There are religious parables in this series and essays on the ethnic groups of Hainan.

Series III, Publications contains missionary newsletters, articles written for academic journals, religious publications describing missions and personal stories, and a textbook. The 50th Anniversary edition of the Hainan Newsletter relates some circumstances of the Boxer Rebellion. The Kachek Station newsletters relate Hainese communist threats during the 1930’s. In general, the newsletters contain articles by Moninger, or her editing, or simply brief mentions of her doings. The academic journals contain brief essays by Moninger on cultural practices of the Hainan people or their ethnic characteristics.

Series IV, Scrapbook contains articles, poems, book reviews and magazine photos. There are several articles written by Moninger for U. S. newspapers and religious publications about experiences in Hainan. The article “A Marshall County Girl in China” describes feuding and crime in Hainan. “A Marshall County Woman Between Bolshevik and Anti-Bolshevik Chinese Armies” describes a communist takeover of Kiungchow. In “Conditions in China,” Moninger writes of Hainese refugees fleeing from Japanese invaders. One interesting newspaper clipping in the scrapbook is a published Ivory soap ad, which features a letter by Moninger praising the benefits of Ivory to missionaries.

Series V, Photographs contains photos depicting the people, culture, architecture and natural environment of Hainan. They are interesting and informational, particularly the scenes which portray Hainese agriculture and economy.

Series VI, Oversize consists of the two volumes of Moninger’s Hainese – English Dictionary. The dictionary is handwritten in a large, bound book with lined paper. Each entry contains a Hainese character, then a phonetic spelling followed by a English translation.


  • Creation: 1915-1939


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

Mary Margaret Moninger was born near Marshalltown, Iowa on September 23, 1892 to two farmers, William Ringland Moninger and Mary Helen Kellogg. Moninger graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Grinnell College in 1913. She received her M.A. from Grinnell in 1922. She was a teacher for two years in New Providence, Iowa until leaving for Hainan, China in 1915 as a member of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. Her regular duties as a missionary were teaching and acting as a principal at several girls’ schools throughout the island of Hainan. She served as secretary, treasurer and agent of her missionary organization.

Moninger was a prolific writer with an keen eye for the unique culture of Hainan. She compiled an immense, unpublished dictionary of the Hainese colloquial dialect. She also penned a mission publication, The Isle of Palms: Sketches of Hainan, in 1919. Moninger wrote several casual articles for religious publications, and newspapers in the United States. She also wrote anthropological essays for the benefit of scientific organizations. She edited her community’s publication, the Hainan Newsletter. According to her biographer, Kathleen Lodwick, Moninger also was interested in botany and her Hainese specimens can today be found at Harvard, Iowa State University, and the national arboretum of the Philippines.

During Moninger's stay in China, the country experienced periods of civil unrest. She witnessed the military actions of the Nationalist party in the 1920’s, communist and anti-Christian uprisings during the 1930’s, and old struggles between Hainese tribes. In 1937, the Japanese invaded Hainan, a part of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Moninger saw the affected Chinese and later encountered the war first hand and faced house arrest during the Japanese occupation. Her missionary service was cut short by the United States’ entrance into World War II. She returned to Iowa to live with her father and sister in 1942 and taught for two years until she had a stroke. She died March 21, 1950 in Marshalltown.


1.75 linear feet (7 containers)

Language of Materials



Margaret Moninger was a missionary in China for more than two decades. This collection of her papers provides a wealth of information on the distinctive culture of Hainan. The papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, various publications, a scrapbook, photographs, and a two volume Hainese-English dictionary.


Collection is organized into the following series: Series I. Correspondence; Series II. Manuscripts; Series III. Publications; Series IV. Scrapbook; Series V. Photographs; and Series VI. Oversize.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was a gift of Helen Moninger Moffatt in 1972.

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) 10-12.”

Related Materials

Margaret Mary Moninger papers, 1915-1941, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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 Margaret Moninger Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Aaron Poor
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
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