Billy Graham Center

Papers of Jessie McDonald - Collection 246

[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.]

Since we are migrating our website to a new platform, we will no longer be updating this earlier version our site. Please visit our Archon database for online guide descriptions. In early 2018, look for our new site, currently under construction, linked in the BGC Archives section on the Library and Archives page. (12/11/2017)

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Jessie McDonald

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

List of Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)

List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)

Brief Description.
Correspondence, diaries, notes, articles, photographs, and annual reports relating to McDonald's medical work in China from 1913-1952 with China Inland Mission. The documents include information on evangelistic outreach and the nature of health conditions in China. The materials also describe the political and social upheavals occurring in China during the first half of the 1900s.

Collection 246 [November 29, 2000]
McDonald, Jessie; 1888-1980
Papers, 1907, 1914-1924, 1926-1951, n.d.
1 Box (RC; 1.1 cubic feet), Photographs


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Jessie McDonald was born in Canada in 1888. Her educational background consisted of medical studies in London, Glasgow, and Vienna, receiving an M.B. from Toronto University. She held internships in Boston and Philadelphia. She also studied at the Glasgow Bible Training Institute. With this preparation, Dr. McDonald went to China as a missionary surgeon with the China Inland Mission (CIM) in 1913. She worked at CIM's Kaifeng Hospital in Honan Province (new spelling, Henan) from 1913 to 1939, serving as a surgeon, medical teacher, and administrator. With the evacuation of the hospital, she did some itinerant medical work before being stationed from 1940-1952 in Tali (new spelling, Dali) in Yunnan Province, which was near the Burma Road running through Paoshan. On several occasions, Dr McDonald also studied and worked at the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) in Peking (new spelling, Beijing). She took her furloughs in 1920, 1928, 1936, and 1945, and left China as part of CIM's general evacuation in 1952. In 1954, following her departure from China, Dr. McDonald joined the faculty of Biola School of Missionary Medicine. She died in 1980.

Scope and Content

The documents in this collection include correspondence, diaries, notes, annual reports, articles, and photographs, all related to Dr. McDonald's medical work in China. The correspondence by Dr. McDonald is supplemented by some correspondence of her co-workers which is interspersed in her papers. The titles of the folders and their arrangement by record type (alphabetically) were supplied by the archivist; the chronological arrangement of the correspondence remains as it was received from the donor. Duplicate copies of material have been removed for the collection and returned to the donor.

The correspondence of Dr. McDonald (folders 1-4 through 1-29) comprises the major portion of this collection. The letters were mainly written to her mother or family and contain an abundance of detail about everyday life. A number of folders contain not only the handwritten letters from Dr. McDonald but also typed excerpts prepared by her family for distribution in North America. Throughout, the correspondence depicts the busy life of a medical missions station (often understaffed), how medical work augmented evangelistic outreach, and the nature of health conditions in China.

In recording events at the hospitals at Kaifeng and Dali, Dr. McDonald refers to many missionaries from CIM and other missions, a few of whom stand out, most significantly Mabel E. Soltau, whose correspondence is included and who wrote joint prayer letters with Dr. McDonald. Other co-workers, some of whose correspondence is also in the collection, include: Paul and Vivien Adolph, Lois Blott, Emily Dives, Edith G. Dreyer, F. Eitel, Mr. Gardiner, Dr. and Mrs Gibson, G. Whitfield Guinness, Henry Guinness, A. Harris, Lawrence and Esther Nowack Hess, Lila G. Jackson, Dr. Judd, Lucy Kao, Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy, Mary Li, Lorna S. MacColl, Miss Madden, Elizabeth E. Miles, Dr. and Mrs. Murray, Dr. Anna M. Pirie, D. V. Rees, Catherine Simmons, Maybeth Standen, John Toop, Dr. and Mrs. R. N. Walker, E. Winstanley Wallis, Lilian Watney, Ernest Weller, and Clair Williams.

Dr. McDonald's term of service covered a period of rapid change in China, which included the emergence of the Kuo min tang and communist party, the rule of General Feng in Henan Province, the occupation by and subsequent defeat of the Japanese, the civil war in the late 1940s, and the coming to power of the communists. These developments are all noted in Dr. McDonald's writing, as well as treatment, coordinated with the Red Cross and International Relief Committee, given to wounded soldiers and refugees resulting from the turmoil these changes brought, and several evacuations form the Kaifeng facility.

While the primary focus of Dr. McDonald's writing was her medical work, she also touches on relations with other missions, Pentecostal expressions of Christianity (folder 1-15), feelings about her singleness (folder 1-4), and anti-foreign feeling against the missionaries (folders 1-9, 1-21). Also included in folder 1-14 are impressions of Japan and Korea which Dr. McDonald visited, and comparisons between them and China.

Along with the correspondence, folders 1-1 and 1-2 consist of annual reports prepared on the medical work at Kaifeng and Dali. These offer an overview of developments in these two hospitals, representing the official positions complemented by Dr. McDonald's personal correspondence. Folder 1-31 contains handwritten medical notebooks with information on symptoms and various diseases in China, recommended treatments, and the compositions of various medicines. Folder 1-34 contains notes on the place of Jews in Chinese religious history.



The materials for this collection were received by the Center in May 1982 from Mrs. Margaret McDonald, through the United States Branch of Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

Accession 82-60
August 18, 1983
Paul A. Ericksen
J. Nasgowitz

Accession 82-60
Type of material: Photographs
The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by Folder Titles (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below. All the photos are black and white, unless otherwise noted.

OVERSEAS MISSIONARY FELLOWSHIP: KAIFENG HOSPITAL, CHINA. Medical staff of the hospital at Kaifeng, including the following persons: Lucy Kao, A. R. Kennedy, Bessie Kennedy, Dr. Jessie McDonald, Dr. T. R. Murray, Mrs. Murray, Esther (Hess) Nowack, Dr. Anna M. Pirie, Evelyn D. E. Silver, Mabel E. Soltau, Dr. & Mrs. R. N. Walker, Clair Williams. 1 photo, 1936.

OVERSEAS MISSIONARY FELLOWSHIP: HEALTH FACILITIES - CHINA. Medical facilities, including the Gospel Hospital, in Kaifeng, China. 1 photo, ca. 1927.

Box Folder Description
1 1 Annual reports: CIM hospitals, Kaifeng, Honan; 1907, 1915-1924, 1926, 1930, 1933, 1936-1938
1 2 Annual report: CIM hospitals, Tali, Yunnan; 1947-1949
1 3 Clippings; n.d.
1 4 1914-1915
1 5 1916-1917
1 6 1918-1919
1 7 1920-1924
1 8 1926
1 9 1927
1 10 1928
1 11 1929
1 12 1930
1 13 1931-1932
1 14 1932
1 15 1933
1 16 1934
1 17 1935
1 18 1936
1 19 1937
1 20 1938
1 21 1939
1 22 1940
1 23 1941
1 24 1942
1 25 1943
1 26 1944
1 27 1945-1946
1 28 1947
1 29 1948-1950
1 30 Diary; n.d.
1 31 Notebooks: Medical - Symptoms, medications, and treatments; 1950, n.d.
1 32 Notes; n.d.
1 33 Notes: Chinese language; n.d.
1 34 Notes: Chinese religious history - Jews in China; n.d.
1 35 Pamphlets; ca. 1948
1 36 Publication: Pearl's Secret (notes on McDonald); 1951

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 11/29/00
Expiration: indefinite