Billy Graham Center

Papers of Otto Frederick Schoerner - Collection 55

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent.]

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Table of Contents

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Audio Tapes and Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Box List)

Otto Schoerner's autobiography (not a part of the BGC Archives collection) is online at


Audio file and transcript for T1

Audio file and transcript for T2


Collection 55
[October 6, 2008]

Schoerner, Otto Frederick; 1906-2008
Papers; ca. 1949-2006
1 box (DC) Audio tapes, photographs (0.24 cubic feet)

Brief Description:

Papers of Otto Frederick Schoerner a Wheaton alumnus and missionary with China Inland Mission in Sinkiang, Honan, and Kangsu Provinces of China from 1931-1951. Collection includes an oral history interview, correspondence, autobiography, and photographs.


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Full name

Otto Frederick Schoerner


August 20, 1906, Uniontown, Pennsylvania


May 17, 2008, Carol Stream, Illinois




Herman and Magdelena Meidinger Schoerner



Anne, Elsie, William


Marital Status

Married Katharine Hastings Dodd, November 25, 1938, Shanghai, China



James Albert (1941), Anna Marjorie (1943), Stephen William “Bill” (1945), Charles Benjamin (1949) , David Paul (1954)


While a teenager




Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois



Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois




Missionary with China Inland Mission in the northern part of Sinkiang Province



Schoerner and five other young male missionaries, William Drew, Dr.Emil Fischbacher, George Fox-Holmes, Raymond Joyce, and Aubrey Parsons, set off with Rev. George Hunter to assist Hunter with his work in Sinkiang Province. After a trip of two months and almost 1800 miles in Ford trucks, the group reached Urumchi in Sinkiang.



Left Sinkiang to go to Shanghai via India to marry Katharine Hastings Dodd



Furlough in the United States



Missionary in Hwang-Chaun, Honan Province and later in Lanchow, Kangsu Province where Schoerner became business manager of Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanzhou, China



Furlough in the United States



Business manger of Borden Memorial Hospital and for a time superintendent



Worked at Moody Bible Institute as Director of the Alumni Placement Office (1951-1961) and later in the Stewardship Department (1961-1972)



Trip to Asia and Europe to encourage church missionaries and family members serving the Lord

Other significant information



Moves to Windsor Park Manor Retirement Center in Carol Stream, Illinois

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

Scope and Content:

Series: I. Paper Records
Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title
Date Range: 1950-2006
Volume: 0.2 cubic feet
Geographic coverage: China
Type of documents: Correspondence, programs, financial and statistical reports
Correspondents: Arthur Glasser, J. Morris Rockness, John R. Sinton
Subjects: Missions in China
Notes: In folder 1-1 are photocopies of correspondence sent to Schoerner from CIM, two reports from Borden Memorial Hospital (statement of accounts and statistics on patients, 1950), and two pages from the 1952 CIM Retired Workers and Former Members Reserve List on which the Schoerners are listed. Also is a program for Schoerner’s 100th birthday celebration and a memorial service bulletin for Melvin David Suttie, 2006. Schoerner’s autobiography Serving Christ containing 51 pages with an index and map is in folder 1-2. The autobiography covers Schoerner’s entire life including his trip across the Gobi Desert, work in Chinese Turkestan, administrator of Borden Memorial Hospital, living under the Communists, departure from China, and new career in the United States.

Correspondence in folder 1-1 include three letters from CIM, all dated December 12, 1950, concern Schoerners request for a leave of departure and their children in school. The December 13, 1950 letter gives detail steps to be taken in preparing for leaving China and the correspondence dated January 20, 1951 “To Whom It May Concern” states that the Schoerners are in “good standing” with CIM. A letter dated September 15, 1966 from Arthur Glasser in which he invites Schoerner to become a member of the Midwest Council of OMF.

Series: II. Oral History Interviews.
Arrangement: Chronological by when the interview was taped.
Date Range: Interviews were taped 1979-1980.
Volume: 0.04 cubic feet
Geographic coverage: China, United States
Type of documents: Archives has reel-to-reel audio tapes and transcripts.
Subjects: Missions in China
Notes: Otto Schoerner was interviewed by Robert Shuster on December 13, 1978 and January 31, 1979 at his home in Evergreen Park, IL. The dates covered by the interview were ca. 1910-1972. See audio tape location records for additional information.

Tape T1 (96 minutes). (Click to link to audio recording and transcript).
Family background; return to Germany; return to United States; religious background; Charles Troutman, Sr.; commitment to Christ; Lutheran missions; Moody Bible Institute (MBI); educational background; missionary medical courses at MBI; Business College in Butler, PA; met Katharine Hastings Dodd; China Inland Missions' (CIM) two hundred recruits; Elisabeth Scott Stam; call to China; Charles Troutman, Sr.; William Whiting Borden; Borden Memorial Hospital; joining the CIM; obligation to stay single for two years; language school in China; crossing the Pacific; the Japanese; arriving in Shanghai; impressions of Shanghai; first impressions of China; language school; assignment to Sinkiang to work with Moslems; denominational and territorial divisions with the CIM; Hunan; administrative structure in the field in the CIM; isolation of Sinkiang (Chinese Turkestan); strategy of the CIM; medical work and evangelism; financial support of the missionaries; financial conditions of China; currency fluctuations; method of paying missionaries; selling American checks; silver dollars; cost of living in China; language exams; requirements for advancement in CIM; the Chinese language; national language; simplification of the language by the Communists; other subjects studied; prayer in Chinese; Chinese slang; use of foreign words; translation into Chinese; trip to Sinkiang; traveling in Ford trucks; crossing the Gobi Desert and Mongolia; supplies; gasoline problems; sights seen along the way; contacts with the Mongols; travel of George Hunter to Shanghai; Outer Mongolia; medical aid given during the moslem uprising in Sinkiang; deaths of Percy Mather and Emil Fischbacher; evangelization among Chinese and Turkish people; difficulty preaching to local women; pattern of life and work of Mr. Schoerner in Sinkiang; Back to Jerusalem movement; fruits of the work; growth of Russian influence; trip to Shanghai to be married in 1938; furlough and return to China; traveling from Occupied China to Free China; working with elders of the Chinese Church; fleeing from the Japanese and moving to Northwest China; furlough and attendance at Wheaton College; return to China 1948; work at the Borden Memorial Hospital; arrival of the Communists in 1949; training people with Communist ideas; the Korean War; attitude toward America; relations with Communists; pressure on the landlords; disappointment of some people's hopes for land; isolation from the community and Chinese Communists; trouble within the hospital; accused of being a spy for the United States; unable to go to Japan; adjustment to life in the United States; work at Moody Bible Institute.


Tape T2 (85 minutes). (Click to link to audio recording and transcript).
Arrival in Shanghai in 1931; The Chinese-Japanese War; meetings with Owen Lattimore; Moslem revolt in Sinkiang in 1932; government use of white Russians to put down the revolt; common medical problems in Sinkiang; lack of proper facilities; relations with the local government in Sinkiang; impressions of George Hunter and Percy Mather; opposition of Mather to bringing more missionaries into Sinkiang; evangelization among Chinese communities and caravans; success of the missionary work in Sinkiang; size of the church; a typical working day in Sinkiang; outline of years in service; duties in Kangsu Province; arrival of Communists; problems under Communism; the Church in Lanchow; evacuation; turning the hospital over to the Chinese staff; the routine of a day at the hospital; desire to stay in China; dealings with Communist authorities; Chinese reactions to the Gospel; the church in China; interest of students in the Gospel; ministry among Moslems; among Lepers; ways of presenting the Gospel to Chinese; difficulties in presenting the Gospel; the disadvantage of being a foreigner; the "big noses;" posters used to present the Gospel; Buddhist reactions; contact with Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism; effect of Buddhism and Confucianism on the Chinese; attitude of Nationalist government toward Christianity; bowing to Sun Yet Sun; impressions of the National government and Chiang Kai Shek; failure of Nationalist military effort; causes of the Nationalist defeat; contacts with Japanese Army; bowing to Japanese guards; size of the Borden Memorial Hospital; staff of the hospital; appeal of Communism in China; the kind of people to whom it appealed; Communist land reform methods; taxation of land holders; attempts by the Communist government to control the church; Marcus Cheng; Three Self principles; questionings by the Communist of foreign affairs; attitudes of Americans toward China; criticism of Nationalist government; visit to Taiwan in 1972; attitudes of Americans toward China; value of missions work in China.


The materials for this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center Archives in December 1978, January 1979, and December 1997 from Otto Schoerner and December 2006 from James Schoerner.


Acc. # [no accession # for the first interview] 79-14 
February 7, 1979
Robert Shuster
M. Schimmels


Acc. #97-93, 06-49
October 6, 2008
Wayne D. Weber


Accession: [no accession # for first interview, 79-14
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file.
Item# - Reel or cassette, speed, length, number of sides, contents (title of session, participants) according to the program, date.












96 min


Interview with Otto Frederick Schoerner by Robert Shuster. Discussion of Schoerner's childhood, education at Moody Bible Institute, missionary service in China with China Inland Mission and Communism.

Dec. 13, 1978




85 min


Interview with Otto Frederick Schoerner by Robert Shuster. Discussion of missionary service in China, Buddhism, Communism, and the Chinese government.

Jan. 31, 1979

Accession: 79-14
Type of material: Photographs
The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.


SCHOERNER, OTTO FREDERICK. Staff of Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanchow, China, and portrait photo of Schoerner from the Promotion Department of Moody Bible Institute. Ca. 1949, 1952. 2 b&w.




Folder Title





1950- 1966, 2006



Serving Christ by Otto F. Schoerner


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Last Revised: 2/24/15
Expiration: indefinite

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