Billy Graham Center

Interview with Esther Salzman - Collection 52

[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 Esther Salzman

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Audio file and written transcript for T1

Brief Description.
Oral history interview with Salzman, a Wheaton alumna and missionary to China in the 1940's and to the Philippines from 1950 to 1972. Discusses education at Wheaton College, medical work in China and the Philippines, and communism in China. This is part of the Missionary Sources Collection.

Collection 52
[February 4, 2000]
Salzman, Esther I; 1906-1996
Interview; 1978
Audio tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Esther Salzman was born into a Baptist home on September 23, 1906, in Kankakee, IL. After graduating from Kankakee High School, she spent four years at Wheaton College, participating in the college literary society, the YWCA, baseball, and the women's athletic association. She graduated on June 12, 1929, with a B.S. degree. From there, she went on to earn her RN degree from the Presbyterian School of Nursing in Chicago. In addition, she took courses from the teacher's college at Columbia University in New York.

In 1939, Miss Salzman was appointed a missionary by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and went to China the following year. In China she served as the only nurse at a hospital in Kinwa. She was evacuated from the country twice to avoid approaching armies.

In 1948, she left China and returned to the United States to earn an M.S. in nursing from the University of Chicago. She went to the Philippines in 1950 as a member of the staff of the Iloilo Mission Hospital, where she was coordinator of nursing. In cooperation with Central Philippines University, a college of nursing was started which granted degrees for graduates. She was dean of the college for many years before turning over the job to one of the nationals.

Miss Salzman returned from the Philippines in April 1972. In October of the same year, she was the key speaker at the fall rally of the Chemung Association of the American Baptist Church in New York. In 1978, she resided in Kankakee and taught nursing at the Olivet Nazarene College until her retirement. She died December 3, 1996.

Scope and Content

Miss Salzman was interviewed by Wheaton College student Fred Baker on October 28, 1978 at her home in Kankakee, IL. 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.

Tape T1 - Side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Beginning of tape
01:15 Family background
02:30 Decision to come to Wheaton
04:30 Experiences at Wheaton
07:15 Academic difficulty of the college
08:30 Standards of conduct
09:15 Prohibition
10:30 Friends remembered
12:15 Decision to go to the mission field
15:30 Change in students as a result of the depression
16:15 More on call to the mission field
17:00 Recollections of Dr. Edman
17:30 More on call to the mission field
18:00 Call to China
18:30 First impressions of China
19:30 Learning the language
22:45 Culture shock
24:00 How nursing in China differed from nursing in America
25:30 How she adjusted to the conditions of the hospital
26:45 Travel to Shanghai
35:00 Her trust in the Lord
36:30 Binding of feet
37:00 Relationship to missionaries of other mission boards
40:00 Problems with malaria
40:15 Final evacuation from China
45:45 More on malaria
46:00 End of Side 1

Tape T1 - Side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Recap of Side 1
02:00 Time at the University of Chicago
02:30 Going back to China
04:45 The hospital at Kinwa, Chekiang
05:45 The Communist movement
09:00 Having to leave China
11:30 Experiences in retrospect
13:00 Family life in China
15:45 Evangelism
17:15 Hopes for Chinese evangelism
17:30 Anti-Western feeling
19:00 Mission schools
20:15 Official government position on the Christian work
21:45 Response of the people to the gospel
22:00 Catholic missionary groups
23:00 Relationship to Catholic groups
23:30 Prevalent diseases
24:45 Classes of people who came to the hospital
25:30 Chinese attitude toward extraterritorial rights
26:15 The problem of loneliness
27:30 Movement to nationalize the churches
28:30 Influence of Marxism
30:15 Attitude of mission board toward China
32:15 Experiences in the United States after coming back from China
35:00 Catholicism in the Philippines
35:45 Nature of work in the Philippines
36:15 Schools of nursing and the degree program started
38:30 Evangelism in the Philippines
41:15 Changes in attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church
44:00 Transferring the directorship over to a national
45:30 End of side 2

Tape T1 - Side 3
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:07 Recap of side 2
01:15 Post-missionary experiences
02:30 Election to the Wheaton National Honor Society
03:30 Return visit to the Philippines
04:00 Hopes for the church in the Philippines
06:30 End of Side 3


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in October 1978 from Esther Salzman.

Accession # : [no accession #]
December 19, 1978
Robert Shuster
F. Baker
M. Schimmels

Accession # [no accession #]
Type of Material: Audio tapes

The items listed below are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3 3/4 ips, 96 minutes. One side only. Interview with Esther Salzman by Wheaton College student, Fred Baker. Discussion of education at Wheaton College, missionary service in China, Communist movement, and the Philippines. Recorded on October 28, 1978.

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Last Revised:2/14/00
Expiration: indefinite