Billy Graham Center

Interview with Martha Henrieta Philips - Collection 314

[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. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Martha Henrieta Philips

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Click to listen to an excerpt from this interview. Click to visit the exhibit Web page featuring this and other excerpts with transcripts, visuals and audio links.

Transcript 3

Brief Description.

Interview in which Philips describes her childhood, education, missionary work in China with China Inland Mission at Chefoo School as a teacher of missionary children, her internment by the Japanese at Temple Hill and Wei Xian, repatriation, working with Wycliffe Bible Translators among the Zapotec Indians in southern Mexico, and traveling throughout the world representing the mission. Recorded on 9/26/85 by Paul Ericksen.

Collection 314 [March 7, 2008]
Philips, Martha Henrietta; 1905-1996
Interview; 1985

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Martha Henrietta Philips was born near Pullman, Washington, on October 21, 1905; she had two brothers and two sisters. Her father worked as a farmer in several locations in Washington; in those communities he also helped to found several nondenominational congregations. Philips was educated in the pre-med program at Washington State University in Pullman, intending to become a medical missionary. Unable to immediately enter medical school for financial reasons, she worked as a teacher in Spokane for five years. Philips enrolled at Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, in 1934, completing the program in two years. Immediately after graduating in 1936, she joined China Inland Mission (CIM), hoping to work among one of China's tribal groups. Shortly after arriving in China, however, she was assigned to teach at Chefoo School, CIM's school for its missionary children in Chefoo (now Yantai), Shandong Province; Philips oversaw the education of American students (10 years and older) in the largely British institution.

The school was captured by the Japanese army in 1938, after which the staff and children were placed "under Japanese protection." On December 7, 1941, the day on which the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the staff and children were placed under house arrest. In October or November of 1942, they were transferred to the nearby Temple Hill school, where they were kept until September 1943. The Americans from the school were then transferred to a facility in Wei Xian, Shandong, where they remained three weeks before being repatriated. Philips, along with twenty-five American children and approximately fifteen American adults returned to New York via South Africa and Rio de Janeiro on the repatriation vessel, the Gripsholm. She returned to the Seattle area where she taught for two years at the University of Washington, as well as studied to return to China as a translator.

With the Communist takeover and subsequent expulsion of missionaries from China, Philips applied to and was accepted by Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1950, which initially assigned her to work in Mexico. She had two short term translating assignments in Mitla, Oaxaca, and Tasquillo, Hidalgo, before she was assigned to work among the Zapotec Indians. She, along with another woman, were based northeast of Oaxaca in Yazatchi el Bajo and then nearby Yazatchi de Alto, where they remained until 1956. After a year of furlough/deputation in the United States, Philips was given a worldwide deputation assignment, which took her to Australia for eighteen months, New Zealand for a year, New Guinea, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana. Initially of indefinite length, Philips' traveling on behalf of the mission was extended until her retirement in 1973. She died January 25, 1996.

Scope and Content

Martha Henrietta Philips was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on September 26, 1985, at the Archives office in Wheaton, Illinois. The dates of the events covered by the interview were 1910-1973. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

T1 - side 1 (Click to link to the full transcript of this tape.
01:15 Introduction to interview on morning of September 26, 1985.
01:30 Family religious background, personal conversion and spirituality; father's role in forming congregations.
04:45 Decision to become a missionary: early exposure to missionaries, first awareness of China, influences.
09:45 Prairie Bible Institute: decision to attend, evaluation of education, facilities.
17:00 Outreach with Canadian Sunday School Mission in rural Canada: personal contacts, programs, speaking.
23:00 Prairie Bible Institute: determination to go to China, campus spiritual life, chapels, missionaries visitors on deputation.
27:30 China Inland Mission: influences to join, John & Isobel Kuhn, sibling feelings about her call to missions, application process, orientation in Vancouver.
32:00 Marriage/singleness on the mission field; engagement to prospective missionary.
35:15 Meeting CIM council, impact of Stam executions; assignment preferences, travel to China and Chefoo, tensions in area between China and Japan.
41:45 Chefoo School for missionaries' children: courses taught, average school day.
46:15 End of side 1.

T1 - side 2
00:05 Overlap from side 1.
01:15 Chefoo School: continuation on average school day, dorm life, counseling role of teachers, school year and vacations, school discipline.
08:45 End of side 2.

T2 - side 1. (Click to link to the full transcript of this tape. Or click here to listen to an excerpt from this interview. You can also visit the Archives exhibit with the audio excerpt and accompanying transcript.)

00:00 Beginning of tape.
01:00 Chefoo School: corporal punishment, students' adjustment to separation from parents, Satanic role in maladjustment, quarantining Western students from Chinese children to prevent disease and exposure to immoral influences.
09:15 Japanese capture of school in 1938, attitudes toward the Japanese, Christians among Japanese soldiers, conditions of house arrest in 1941, conflict between Japanese army and navy.
12:45 Relationships between American and British students.
13:30 Temple Hill internment camp: transfer from Chefoo, living conditions and facilities, population, answered prayer, communication from outside the camps, treatment by Japanese.
26:45 Contact with Japanese missionary pastor, fellowship and evangelism by Japanese.
32:30 Transfer to Weishien internment camp, comparison of living conditions with Temple Hill, Eric Liddell's influence in camp, repatriation of Americans, repatriation process, death of a teenager.
44:00 End of side 1.

T2 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:05 Overlap from side 1.
00:30 How children came through internment.
02:00 End of interview.

T3 - side 1 (Click to link to the full transcript of this tape.
00:00 Beginning of tape.
01:00 Introduction to interview on afternoon of September 26, 1985.
01:30 Internment: relationships, Japanese treatment, answered prayer and financing the children's food, revival.
10:00 Repatriation: conditions on the ship, route, recuperation.
26:15 Wycliffe Bible Translators: preparation and inability to return to China, redirection to working in Mexico, application process.
31:00 Initial and long-term assignments, teaching reading.
34:30 Zapotec Indians: location, culture, drinking, food, nominal Catholics, Christmas celebration.
43:30 Value of translation to communicate.
45:15 Belief system: historical background.
46:15 End of side 1.

T3 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:05 Overlap from side 1.
01:45 Continuation on Zapotec religious beliefs: integrating tribal beliefs and Catholicism (syncretism); cultural redemptive analogies.
06:30 Methods for starting work with tribal people, linguistic beginnings.
08:15 Australian aborigine's vision and availability of missionary.
13:15 Work with Zapotec Indians: duration, worship among Christians.
16:00 Deputation work: value of communicating needs, stimulating prayer, changes observed in attitudes towards missions in North American churches.
23:30 Deputation assignments in US, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Liberia; political turmoil in Ghana.
32:45 Lessons learned: deputation more than raising funds, role of prayer, influential courses at Prairie Bible Institute.
37:30 Recollections of Jennie Fitzwilliams from Chefoo School.
39:45 Value of obedience and prayer.
44:30 End of interview.


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in September 1985 from Martha Philips.

Accession : 85-160
December 12, 1990
Paul A. Ericksen
C. Easley

Accession : 85-160
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 55 minutes. One side only. Interview with Martha Philips by Paul Ericksen. Discussion of call to missionary work, education at Prairie Bible Institute, evangelism in rural Canada, and working with China Inland Mission as a teacher at Chefoo School, its school for missionaries' children in China. Recorded on September 26, 1985.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 45 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview on T1. Discussion of work and life at Chefoo School, and the staff and students' capture and internment by the Japanese. Recorded on September 26, 1985.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 90 minutes. One side only. Interview with Martha Philips by Paul Ericksen. Discussion of internment by the Japanese and repatriation, joining Wycliffe Bible Translators and carrying out preliminary linguistic work among the Zapotec Indians of Mexico, and traveling throughout the world representing the mission. Recorded on September 26, 1985.

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