Carpenter, Myra

Reference code(s): GB 0237 Edinburgh University, CSCNWW 18
Held at: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh
Title: Carpenter, Myra
Date(s) of contents: 1914-early 1970s
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 6 boxes


Name of creator(s): Carpenter, Myra (d 1970s)

Administrative/Biographical history: Myra Carpenter (known as Mollie) was a China Inland Mission missionary in Szechwan (Sichuan), China. After having her first application turned down she was accepted for missionary training by the CIM in London in 1925. She left for China in October 1928 arriving in Yangchow in December where she spent some time studying the language. In April 1929 she began her journey to Szechwan where she was to spend most of her working life. From August 1930 she was based in Kwangyuan near Paoning (Langchung) sometimes spending time at Sintientsi. Her time was occupied with learning the language, taking classes and meetings, and, when possible, travelling through the surrounding country evangelising. Between 1933 and 1935 increasing unrest meant that Carpenter was evacuated from the Paoning area four times. She spent periods at Mienchow, Liangshan, Chühsien, Chienkoh, Chongking, and Tienkiang before settling in Tahsien (or Suiting) in November 1935. She remained there until she went on furlough between April 1936 and September 1938. On her return to China she spent some time in Shanghai before leaving in December 1938 for Tanishan near Paoning which she reached at Easter 1939. At Tanishan she was in charge of the mission's orphanage but also spent time taking classes and travelling to surrounding towns and villages such as Chienfuhchang. She continued to view the evangelical side of her work as important and regarded the area in which she worked as her 'parish'. Her next furlough was from May 1947 until October 1948. On her return to China she was based in Paoning but continued to visit the surrounding area and the orphanage at Tanishan. With the arrival of the communists she found her work increasingly difficult and finally left China in early 1951. Once back in England she reluctantly accepted that her health would not allow her to work in any of the Mission's new fields in Asia. She settled at her late mother's house in Chippenham and did some work as a companion to elderly ladies and occasionally in rest homes. She also wrote articles, presented classes on China and took classes on religious themes as well as representing the British and Foreign Bible Society. She continued to keep in touch with developments in China by collecting news cuttings and articles until her death in the 1970s.

Custodial history: On her return to England Myra Carpenter went through the letters she had written to her family, and made extensive notes from them, using them as the basis for the diary material and some of the addresses that are in the collection, along with other material accumulated by her. The papers were originally offered to an anthropological museum in Cambridge. The museum kept Carpenter's photographs which were copied onto slides and the slides were returned to the Carpenter family with the rest of the material.

Immediate source of acquisition: The papers were presented to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western world by her family. The collection was briefly listed, and further reorganised, by Ralph Covell in 1992.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection consists of: letters from Carpenter to her parents sometimes enclosing letters from others (1922-1951); notes, correspondence, reports and other material relating to Tanishan Orphanage (1924-1954); reminiscences, notes, articles, addresses and talks by Carpenter on her time in China and on women in China (1928-1960s); pamphlets, circulars and other material relating to the China Inland Mission (also OMF) and the British and Foreign Bible Society (from c 1920s mainly 1951-1970); pamphlets and newspaper cuttings on China, Taiwan and Christianity (1943-1970s); material (some Chinese language) used for preaching and teaching (c1920s-1940s); and musical scores, maps, photograph and pictures.

System of arrangement: The material was arranged either by Myra Carpenter, or later by Ralph Covell, into series such as correspondence, diary material, news-cuttings and photographs. These distinctions have been kept although there are some overlaps.


Language: English and some Chinese.

Conditions governing access: Contact the repository for details.

Conditions governing reproduction: Contact the repository for details.

Physical characteristics: The collection includes 35 mm slides and lantern slides but the images on these can be viewed without special equipment.

Finding aids: A handlist is available.


Related material: The archives of the China Inland Mission (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) are held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Among Hills and Valleys in Western China by Hannah Davies, (London: S. W. Partridge & Co., 1901) describes CIM missionary work east Szechwan but at an earlier period.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brown, Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, Edinburgh University.

Note: The biographical history was compiled using the collection itself.

Date(s) of descriptions: 4 June, 2001


Personal names
Carpenter | Myra | d c 1975

Corporate names
China Inland Mission