Collection 232 [October 23, 2000]
Hess, Esther Marguerite Nowack; 1906-
Papers; 1931-1941, 1945, 1959, n.d.
1 Box (DC; .25 cubic feet), Photographs
There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.
Esther Nowack Hess was born July 9, 1906, in China to missionary parents, William Henry and
Katherine Plantz Nowack. Accepted by China Inland Mission (CIM; see CN 215), she began her
language training in 1931 and served as a nurse and teacher of nurses in Kansu Province (new
spelling, Gansu) from 1932 to 1934 and in Honan Province (new spelling, Henan) from 1935 to
1941. In May, 1941, she married Lawrence Hess, who died several months later. Soon after, she
was interned, first at the Temple Hill Concentration Camp and then at Weihsien Camp, a
Japanese internment camp in China, from 1942 to 1945. Her furloughs during her term of
service took place in 1938-1938 and l945-1946. Mrs. Hess had two sisters, Helen Nowack
Frame (see CN 255) and Ruth Nowack, who also served with CIM in China.
Scope and Content
Correspondence, photographs, and two articles make up the documents in this collection. The correspondence consists of a complete set of Esther Hess's consecutive news/prayer letters from 1932 to 1945; her letters of 1941 were written jointly by her and her husband. The correspondence begins with accounts of her language training, assignment by the mission, and travel in China. They also give accounts of her work at Borden Memorial Hospital and the mission hospital at Kaifeng, including numerous illustrations of illnesses the staff treated and evangelistic opportunities available in the hospital, among them a case of demon possession.
In addition, the letters tell of the effects of the Sino-Japanese War, evacuation due to fighting, and treatment of wounded soldiers and refugees. The final letter, written after her release from Weihsien Camp, describes conditions and everyday life at the camp as well as the occasion of release from it. One article in the collection, a photocopy from the December 1945 issue of China's Millions, further elaborates on the conditions in Weihsien and on the events surrounding the liberation of the camp and other internment camps in China. The other article, written by Mrs. Hess, tells of a confrontation with and near execution by the Communists in 1948. As her parents and sisters were all in China, the letters also note the whereabouts of all the family members and give accounts of family reunions, the wedding of her sister, Helen, to Raymond Frame, and her marriage to Dr. Hess. She also frequently refers to some of her co-workers, including Dr. D. V. Rees, Dr. Robert A. H. Pearce, Dr. Jessie McDonald (see CN 246), and Paul E. Adolph.
The collection also includes a number of photographs, the most notable of which are fourteen
aerial photos of Weihsien, taken by a photographer on a B-29 bomber dropping food shipments
to POW's after the Japanese surrender. Mrs. Hess, along with students from Chefoo School,
were interned in the camp.
The materials in this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center in April 1982 from Esther Nowack Hess through the United States branch of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.
June 10, 1983
Paul A. Ericksen
CONCENTRATION CAMPS - CHINA. Weihsien, China, and nearby internment camp, 1945. Aerial photographs of a food supplies drop, surrounding locale, and Weihsien Internment Camp. 14 b&w.
FRAME, HELEN NOWACK. Frame being transported in a "Bible woman's barrow" and her marriage to Raymond William Frame in 1936. 2 b&w.
HESS, ESTHER MARGUERITE NOWACK. Includes a portrait of Mrs. Hess and one of her with her husband, Lawrence; family pictures from 1918 with her father and mother and her sisters Helen and Ruth and in 1935 with her father and stepmother, Alice Broughton Nowack, as well as her sisters, including Mary Pearl. 4 b&w.
NOWACK, RUTH LOUISE. Includes Miss Nowack with Mrs. J. O. Fraser and A. K. Heath. 2 b&w.
OVERSEAS MISSIONARY FELLOWSHIP (China Inland Mission). Missionaries in Tsingdao, China (new spelling, Qingdao), after their release from an internment camp in 1945. 1 b&w.
OMF (CIM): CHINA - CONFERENCES. Missionary Conference, Kansu, China (new spelling, Gansu), ca. 1935. Includes George Gibb, Esther Hess, Faith Leeuwenburg, Ruth Nowack, and Nettie Waldner. 1 b&w.
OMF (CIM): CHINA - LANGUAGE SCHOOLS. Women's Language School in Yangchow,
China (new spelling, Yangzhow), 1931. Photo includes A. B. Bissett, Teresa Bush, Ruth Elliott,
Helen Nowack Frame, Esther Nowack Hess, Sara Reid Kelley, Estella Hayes Kirkman, Faith
Elizabeth Leeuwenburg, Amy Weir Moore, Ruth Whitney Prentice, Marjorie Rattray, Jean
Sinclair Spence Rowe, Katharine Dodd Schoerner, Bertha May Silversides, Elizabeth Stair
Small, Julia Stunkard Snow, Elisabeth Alden Scott Stam, Eileen Aida Vorley Stewart, Laura
Grasley Street, Doris Trefren, Velma Booth Wagner, Nettie Waldner, Marion Carleson Whipple
(complete list identifying women accompanies the photograph). 1 b&w.
|1||1||Prayer letters; 1932-1941; 1945|
|2||Articles; 1945, 1959|