Western Medicine in China, 1850-1950
A new responsive interface will be incorporated on Friday, October 9th, 2020.
These digital collections are part of the History of Western Medicine in China project. The project contains archive guides, primary sources, digitized materials –- selected to assist lay people and undergraduate students, as well as established scholars and graduate students. Most sources to date focus on the period from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the formation of the People's Republic of China. 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 materials.
See History of Western Medicine in China Project.
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, publications, audiovisual recordings, and photographic collections.
ABMAC Photographs: The Photographs were taken on behalf of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (ABMAC), many appear in ABMAC publications.
News of China: Newsletter of the United China Relief Fund, vol. 1-5 (1942-1947).
ABMAC Bulletin: Monthly newsletter of ABMAC, volume 1-11, (1939-1949).
ABMAC Recordings: Phonograph records and other recordings, including speeches by such ABMAC supporters as Mme. Chiang Kai-Shek, Pearl S. Buck, Wendell Willkie, and a number of movie stars.
For additional sources:
- John R. Watt, A Friend in Deed : ABMAC and the Republic of China, 1937-1987 (New York: ABMAC, 1992) [to be digitized]
- History of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, (New York: ABMAC, 1954) from Columbia archives
- 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?])
- Biography of Robert K.S. Lim, Director of ABMAC in 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:
A broad range of sources is to be found in both published and primary archival material from the contents of the Mission Research Library (MRL) and the Charles Cuthbert Hall Memorial Library of Christian Missions which were merged within The Burke Library. These images were located in an unprocessed archives materials a group of lantern slides depicting Chinese hospitals were recently been brought to light by the Luce funded project.
Listing of institutions and medical workers (1928, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1940).
These irregularly published directories were created by the Chinese Medical Association and list all known institutions of Western medicine in China along with other valuable information. Some (but not all) include details about medical institutions, and complete lists of all physicians with English and Chinese names.
Volumes 5-9 (1919-1923).