Edith Ivy Thompson and Francis Johnstone White left Kansas to become missionaries to China in 1901, shortly after his graduation from Rochester Seminary and their marriage. Both had attended Ottawa University in Kansas, not to be confused with the University of Ottawa, Canada.

They both served as missionary educators and social reformers in China until 1935 except for periods when they returned to the USA for various reasons, several times travelling via Europe.

Francis, Frank, was one of the founders of Shanghai Baptist College and Seminary, and the first president (1907-1927) of the united college and seminary which became known in English as the University of Shanghai; the Chinese name would be written in Roman letters as Hujiang Daxue. Not to be confused with the historic Shanghai University organized in joint cooperation between the KMT and the Communists, 1922-27. Also not to be confused with the present Shanghai University which encompasses several institutions, not the least being, from our perspective, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, USST, that occupies the site and campus of the first University of Shanghai.

Their four children, Frances, Roberta, Gilbert and Phillip, were all born in China; they were raised and educated there, graduated from the Shanghai American School and then continued on to college in the USA.

The blog title, myfamilyschinahistorywithsocialistcharactersitics, is a play on the slogan made famous by Deng Xiaoping, Marxist Socialism with Chinese characteristics. But I doubt he invented it and I suspect that it may have evolved from similar or parallel expression like Christianity with Chinese characteristics that I think I have read in several places including letters from Edith in California in the 1930s about meeting a Chinese Christian on a lecture tour of the US. Are there older antecedents?

Name-calling is most effective to influence people who are ignorant of their own history and the words’ or labels’ history and evolution. People adapt and develop partly through their tools, including language. However, I don’t like to see words high-jacked or misused and misappropriated in the attempt to discredit others when it is the abusers who should be discredited for their ignorant and fatuous attitude.

I mean words like: socialist, anarchist, heretic, stoic, cynic, radical, liberal, conservative, fascist…

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pat Stanfield
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 15:18:35

    I was searching Mokansan because my mother was born there in 1917 to Presbyterian Missionaries. The photo of your Mokansan home looks very much like where my mom lived. I believe the compound in Mokansan held missionaries from varying churches – but I’m completely fuzzy on these details. Perhaps you know exactly where Mokansan is and other details you’d be willing to share? Thank you.


  2. twhite48
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 09:44:39

    I am hoping soon to set up a mirror or similar site hujiangdaxue.com and then post more to the blog.

    Hujiang was the old name for Shanghai and combined with Daxue (big school) was the Chinese name for the U-S.

    For more accounts of Moganshan (the current pinyin spelling) you can look for copies of the books below. Try the library or second hand stores/online; they should be cheap second hand.

    Mark Kitto, recent publication Chasing China. He is a Welshman who moved there and revived the tourist business in the last 10 years. His Chinese wife owns the Moganshan Lodge; you can find their website online. Mark helped us locate the family cottage which is still there but remodeled and diminished. He is the expert on the subject of historical ownership and records.

    MKS as my grandparents abbreviated is north of Hangzhou. It was relatively easy access from Shanghai especially after a train line was extended from Shanghai to Hangzhou. Draw a line from Shanghai passing below Tai Lake, the big lake near Suzhou, to the closest mountains.

    John Espey whose parents were Presbyterian missionaries in Shanghai has several chapters in his books that are about MKS. Minor Heresies and The Other City are the titles of the books with the most about MKS. That is according to notes I made a year and a half ago but I can’t find the books on my shelf to confirm.

    Heaven Below, E. H. Clayton, also several chapters related to MKS.


  3. twhite48
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 13:32:13

    The two memoirs of growing up in Hangzhou around that period are Hangzhou, My Home, and Foreign Devil, the later by Janet Fitch. I ran across a page or two that I copied from the second and that reminded me to tell you it’s more likely you will find mention of your family there if at all.


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