The History of Western Medicine in China
Welcome to the resources portal of the History of Western Medicine in China project. Categories of resources are listed on the left, or they can be browsed by scrolling down this page.
This is a wide collection of information -- 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. In the future we plan to include all aspects of institutionalized medicine in China from the nineteenth century to the present, including TCM. Suggestions are welcome.
Items marked with an asterix (*) were prepared directly through project funding by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Archive and Library Guides
The following guides have been prepared for the substantial records both in and outside of China documenting the history of Western medicine there. American holdings are largely records of the work of medical missionaries and the Rockefeller Foundation, while Chinese archives include public health records, government documents and institutional archives for hospitals and medical schools. This is only a selection of worldwide records on this subject and we hope to eventually include guides to other key repositories in the United States and China, and add guides for collections in the Republic of China (Taiwan), Japan, and beyond.
United States, Canada, and Europe
The Burke Library (Columbia University Libraries) at Union Theological Seminary, NYC *
Presbyterian Historical Society *
United Church of Canada Archives, Toronto *
Other Repositories in the U.S. and Canada*
Database of Hospitals and Medical Institutions
From the early dispensaries founded by missionaries to the substantial medical infrastructure incorporated into the People's Republic of China in 1949, hundreds of institutions have left records of their work in China. Many institutions had multiple names in English and Chinese, while other small hospitals or medical schools were shuttered or formed larger and more efficient institutions.
Enter names, places, and keywords in the box below to search a database designed to help researchers track name changes and identify archival repositories that hold historical materials about them.
Suggestions and corrections are welcome. Abbreviations of the archival repositories are as follows: Burke (CUL)=Burke Library, Columbia University; Methodist GCAH=Methodist General Commission on Archives and History; PHS=Presbyterian Historical Society; RAC=Rockefeller Archives Center; SOAS=School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Yale=Yale University. See the archive guides above for more information.
Hospital and Medical School Records
These long runs of institutional reports provide information not only about individuals and institutional history, but also about diseases encountered in various regions from Canton (Guangzhou) in the south to Peking (Beijing) in the North.
- Canton Hospital reports, 1908-1941 (missing 1911-12, see Medical Missionary Reports below for earlier CHR)
- Foochow Missionary Hospital reports, 1872, 1884, 1886, 1896, 1901, 1903-04, 1917-18
- Lintsing Memorial Hospital, Shandong various documents from University of Utah collection
- Pekin hospital, Pekin, China, Report, New York: Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, 1887
- Peking Union Medical College / Hospital reports, 1908-1929 (missing 1910-1914, 1922)
- Peking Union Medical College, Addresses & Papers: Dedication Ceremonies and Medical Conference, Peking, China, 1922
- Soochow Hospital anniversary booklet, 1933
- See records related to various hospitals and medical schools sponsored by Protestant mission agencies in the Archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. Digital files of records in Series IV of the United Board archives are available at http://divinity-adhoc.library.yale.edu/UnitedBoard.
General Reports and Guides
These guides and reports provide detailed “snapshots” of health and disease conditions, in addition to the development of medical personnel and institutions in China over time.
Medical Missionary Reports, 1838-1921
- Thomas Colledge, The Medical Missionary Society, 1838
- Peter Parker, Statements respecting hospitals in China, London: Edward Suter, 1841
- Peter Parker, The first and second reports of the Medical missionary society in China: with minutes of proceedings, hospital reports &c, Macao: S.W. Williams, 1841
- Medical Missionary Society in China, Papers relative to hospitals in China, Boston: I.R. Butts, 1841
- Peter Parker, Statements respecting hospitals in China, prededed by a letter to John Abercrombie, Glasgow: J. Maclehose, 1842
- Peter Parker, Report of the Medical missionary society in China. For the year 1845, Victoria: Hong Kong Register Press, 1846.
- Medical Missionary Society in China reports to 1892
- Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China, Shanghai 1890 (discussion and debate on medical missions, related charitable institutions, and opium work, 268-361)
- William G. Lennox, The Health of Missionary Families in China: A Statistical Study, Denver: University of Denver, 1920
- Balme, Harold. China and Modern Medicine, a Study in Medical Missionary Development. London: the Livingstone bookshop, 1921
Chinese Imperial Customs Medical Reports, 1870-1910
- Imperial Maritime Customs Medical Reports
- Charles Gordon, An epitome of the reports of the medical officers to the Chinese Imperial Customs Service, from 1871-1882, London : Baillière, Tindall, & Cox, 1884
Rockefeller Medical Commission, 1914
- Medicine in China, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Chinese Medical Association Guides, 1928-1940
- Chinese Medical Guides - 中國醫界指南 all institutions and medical workers (1928, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1940)*
Medical Periodicals offer one of the best "archives" of the history of medicine in China. Two of the most important are the China Medical Missionary Journal and its successor which ran from 1887-1931 (English only), and the National Medical Journal (1915-1931). These two merged in 1932 to become the Chinese Medical Journal (in Chinese 中華醫學會, 1914-23; 1931-1966 (keyword search only, via Hathi Trust)).
Full access to the National Medical Journal (and many other Chinese language medical journals) is available through the digital database 大成老旧刊全文数据库 at major research institutions in the U.S. and China (one month trial access may be available through your library). That database is missing the volumes scanned and available below for the years 1919 to 1923. See OCLC Worldcat for paper holdings.
China Medical Missionary Association, 1886-1907 (1907 name changed to China Medical Association, in 1932 merged with National Medical Association to form the Chinese Medical Association and Chinese Medical Journal)
- China Medical Missionary Journal 1887-1907 (English)
- China Medical Journal 1907-1931 (English)
National Medical Association 中華醫學會 (1915-1932, when it merged with China Medical Association, English name became Chinese Medical Association, Chinese Medical Journal).
- National Medical Journal of China 中華醫學雜誌 (Volumes 5-8, 1919-1923, missing 5.1 and 8.3)*
- Chinese Medical Journal 1937-1966 (keyword search only, via Hathi Trust)
The following missionary periodicals also provide valuable information about medical work:
- China's Millions (China Inland Mission)
- West China Missionary News
Digitized Photograph and Image Collections
The following collections of images and photographs provide visual evidence of the evolution and variety of Western medicine in China from Lam Qua's grotesquely beautiful paintings of tumors, to black and white photographs of the vaccination work of ABMAC during WWII, to the stunning posters of the mass mobilization campaigns of the People's Republic of China. Please see each collection's website for copyright issues.
Late Qing China (19th century to 1911)
- Nineteenth-century medical portraits of Lam Qua, 1830s
Peter Parker Collection, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University
- Manchurian Plague Photos, 1911
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard, Strong Papers
Republican China (1912-1949)
- Medical Missions in China, c. 1910s-30s*
More than 100 images of missionary medicine and science from the MRL Collection at Burke Library, Columbia University
- International Mission Photography Archive, c. 1910s-1940s
More than 600 images related to medicine in China, multiple
- Peking University Health Science Center, 1912-2012 (formerly National Medical College)
Historical Development of Peking University Health Science Center, PUHSC Archives
- Peking Union Medical College (see second half of photo-essay)
China Medical Board, Photo Essay with primary documents, 1914-1949, Rockefeller Foundation Archives
- American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (ABMAC)*
Founded in 1937 to give aid to existing Chinese medical agencies, Butler Library, Columbia University
- Portraits of women doctors working in China, c. 1890-1939
Harvard University, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute (if error message, copy/paste entire title to browser)
People's Republic of China (1949 to present)
- Chinese Public Health Posters, 1933-1970
Curated by Liping Bu, held at the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, USA
- Chinese Family Planning Posters, 1950s to present
Curated by Liping Bu, held at the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, USA
The project is building a bibliography of relevant works in the history of Western Medicine in China. This bibliography is housed externally with Zotero to allow for better exporting and searching capabilities. Suggestions for additional references are welcome.*
Selected Electronic Texts
Selections below are organized by chronologically by period. Thanks to the Internet Archive and the Medical Heritage Library where many additional texts are available, with particular strengths in pre-1923 texts about medical missions.
- Francesco Maria Nigrisoli, Febris china chinae expugnata, seu, Illustr. aliquot virorum opuscula, quae veram tradunt methodum, febres china chinae curandi, Ferrariae: Apud Lilium, 1700
- William Baldwin, ed. A short practical narrative of the diseases which prevail among the American seamen, at Wampoa in China: in the year 1805 ... Philadelphia: Thomas T. Stiles, 1807
- William Lockhart, The Medical Missionary in China: a narrative of twenty years' experience, London: Hurst and Blackett, 1861.
- Charles Gordon, China from a medical point of view in 1860 and 1861, London: J. Churchill, 1863.
- John H. Dudgeon, The Diseases of China: their causes, conditions and prevalence, contrasted with those of Europe, Glasgow: Dunn & Wright, 1877
- Patrick Manson, The Filaria sanguinis hominis and certain new forms of parasitic disease in India, China and warm countries, London: H.K. Lewis, 1883
- Dugald Christie, Ten Years in Manchuria: A story of medical mission work in Moukden, 1883-1893, Paisley: J. & R. Parlane, 1895.
- Saneyoshi, Yasuzumi, Suzuki, S. The Surgical history of the naval war between Japan and China: during 1894-95; translated from the original Japanese report, Tokio: Tokio Printing Co., 1900
- Elliot I. Osgood, Breaking down Chinese walls, from a doctor's viewpoint, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1908
- Omar Kilborn, Heal the sick: an appeal for medical missions in China, Toronto: Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, 1910.
- James Menzies, Link by link, Toronto: Board of Foreign Missions, Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1913
- Elma Paget, The claim of suffering, a plea for medical missions, London: Society for the Propogation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1913
- Belle J. Allen, A crusade of compassion for the healing of the nations: a study of medical missions for women and children, West Medford, Mass.: Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions, 1919
- John Charles Keyte, Andrew Young of Shensi: adventure in medical missions, London: Carey Press, 1924
- Albert Leroy Shelton, Pioneering in Tibet: a personal record of life and experience in mission fields, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1925
People's Republic of China/Maoist China:
- Joseph R. Quinn, Medicine and Public Health in the People's Republic of China, Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, 1973.
Links to the resources related to the larger history of medicine and science in China.
Accommodating the Chinese: The American Hospital in China, 1880-1920
Australian-based historian Michelle Renshaw's visual supplement to her 2005 book of the same name.
History of Medicine and Culture in China, Marta Hanson
Johns Hopkins historian of medicine in China, includes bibliographies, syllabi and links to relevant sources
Chinese Science and Medicine, Nathan Sivin
University of Pennsylvania historian of Chinese science and medicine, includes annotated bibliographies and other guides
Morning Sun: Cultural Revolution Medicine and Public Health
Traditional vs. Western Medicine - what is the line between traditional medicine as cultural heritage and traditional medicine as feudal ignorance? Produced by Longbow group.
Hygiene in Asian Societies
Research group at Academia Sinica, Taipei, ROC
Research Group on the History of Health and Healing
at Academia Sinica, Taipei, ROC
Asian Society for the History of Medicine
D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science and Technology in East Asia
Dedicated to furthering the study of the history of science and technology in East Asia since the start of the 20th century through fellowhips and grants to graduate students and young scholars.
Needham Research Institute
A centre for the study of the history of East Asian science, technology and medicine.
EASTM: East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Journal published by the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine (ISHEASTM).
East Asian Science Technology and Society: An International Journal
Journal sponsored by the National Science Council of Taiwan, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (EASTS) aims to bring together East Asian and Western scholars from the fields of science, technology, and society (STS).
Contextual and Cultural Links
These links are helpful to demonstrate the role of imperialism, Christianity, and the urban environment upon the development of medicine in modern China.
MIT Visualizing Cultures
stunning images, essays on historical context of European and Japanese imperialism.
Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity 華人基督教史人物辭典
Some Chinese Christian physicians and medical missionaries.
The Ricci 21st Century Roundtable on the History of Christianity
in China 點睛論壇：中國基督宗教史研究電腦信息庫
Archives for the history of Christianity in China.
Virtual Tianjin 天津
The focus of award-winning work on public health by Ruth Rogaski and Chinese historians like Yu Xinzhong, Tianjin's unique nine nation concession zone provides a comparative study of hygiene and medicine in semi-colonial China.
Virtual Shanghai 上海
Primary source maps, images, texts and essays by historians of Shanghai. About 50% of Chinese physicians and medical institutions were in Shanghai before 1949.
Virtual Beijing 北京
Beijing was also a focus of institutions of Western medicine. See also 1928 Chinese Medical Guide which focuses on medical institutions in Beijing.
Virtual Suzhou 蘇州
Maps, images, texts. Suzhou also had signficant medical institutions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Historical Photos of China
This project aims to locate, archive, and disseminate photographs from the substantial holdings of images of modern China held mostly in private hands overseas.
A JISC-funded project to allow users to explore and enhance more than 8000 digitised images of photographs of China taken between 1850 and 1950.
International Mission Photography Archive (University of Southern California Digital Library, add keywords to narrow search)
Offers historical images from Protestant and Catholic missionary collections in Britain, Norway, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the United States.