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Western Medicine in China, 1850-1950

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The following photographs were taken on behalf of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (ABMAC). ABMAC was founded in 1937 to give aid to Chinese medical and public health services by working through existing Chinese medical agencies. Between 1937 and 1945 more than ten million U.S. dollars in aid was given to China. After World War II, ABMAC concentrated on aiding six national medical colleges by administering a fellowship program for faculty members of these colleges to spend a year of study in the United States, by sending American medical faculty members to the six colleges as visiting professors, and by providing technical assistance in the form of books for medical libraries, textbooks for the classroom, equipment for laboratories and other educational materials. In 1949 when the Peoples Republic of China was established, ABMAC shifted its aid to Taiwan.

ABMAC records are held in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library Butler Library at Columbia University. The holdings include all official correspondence and a significant photographic collection. We thank the Luce Foundation for financial support, Butler Library for providing staff support, and Dr. John Watt of ABMAC for his help in selecting the following photographs.

Additional resources about ABMAC:

1) John R. Watt, A Friend in Deed : ABMAC and the Republic of China, 1937-1987 (New York: ABMAC, 1992) [to be digitized]

2) History of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, (New York: ABMAC, 1954) from Columbia archives

3) 60 ABMAC pictures at National Library of Medicine website:
from publication:
American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, Pictures of the Emetgency [sic] Medical Service Training Schools at Kweiyang (New York : American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, Inc., [1943?])

4) Biography of Robert K.S. Lim, Director of ABMAC in China during the war
Horace W. Davenport, “Robert Kho-Seng Lim, October 15, 1897 – July 8, 1969,” Biographical Memoirs National Academy of Sciences, 51 (1980), 280-307
available online at:

Visit the project's website at: for additional research resources.

Last updated by lcalvert on 12/15/2014