Harman, Dr Douglas and Mrs Gladys

Reference code(s): GB 0102 MS 380815
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Harman, Dr Douglas and Mrs Gladys
Date(s) of contents: 1909-2004
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 3 boxes of files and photographic material, plus outsized display boards


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: Douglas Harman (1915-2003) trained as a doctor at the University of Edinburgh (1933-1938), where he joined the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society, and decided to undertake medical missionary work with the London Missionary Society (LMS). After graduation, Harman completed a year of hospital work in England, and was then assigned by the LMS to Changchow Union Hospital in Changchow [Zhangzhou], Fujian, China. Harman and his wife Gladys (born Mary Gladys Gunstone; 1914-2003) sailed for China in 1939, arriving in Amoy in December 1939. After nine months of language study in Amoy, the Harmans moved to Changchow in autumn 1940, where Douglas Harman commenced work at the Changchow Union Hospital.

The LMS's medical mission in Changchow had been commenced in 1887 by Dr Ahmed Fahmy, whose hospital continued until Dr Fahmy's return to Britain and retirement in 1920. Medical work was resumed in 1928 when Dr Wilfrid Busby was posted by the LMS to Changchow. Dr Busby carried on in Dr Fahmy's hospital until his resignation from the LMS in 1939. By then it had been agreed that the Changchow hospital would be operated jointly by the London Misssionary Society, the English Presbyterian Mission and the Reformed Church in America Mission, with a medical staff drawn from the LMS and the Reformed Church in America Mission. Local oversight of the hospital was in the hands of a joint committee of the missionary societies known as the Three Missions Council. By the time Douglas Harman commenced work in 1940, Changchow Union Hospital had been relocated to the buildings of the Changchow Theological College in order to escape Japanese bombing. It remained at the College for the remainder of the Second World War. As Changchow was outside the zone of China occupied by the Japanese, the Harman family were able to continue in Changchow until 1944, when a Japanese offensive led to the evacuation of European staff to India. The Harmans arrived in Britain in January 1945.

Douglas and Gladys Harman returned to Changchow in August 1946. In 1947-1949 Douglas Harman was involved in the building of a new Changchow Union Hospital, made possible by funds donated by Susan Duryee Fahmy, the widow of Dr Ahmed Fahmy. Following the rise to power of the Communist Party, the LMS decided to withdraw its missionary staff from China, and the Harmans returned to Britain in 1950. In 1952 Douglas Harman was assigned by the LMS to the hospital at its mission station in Mbereshi, Northern Rhodesia [Zambia]. Gladys Harman remained in Britain with the Harman's children. Harman served at Mbershi until 1955, when he was seconded to the Mission to Lepers in Hong Kong. Harman moved to Hong Kong with his wife and part of his family, and continued to work at the leprosarium until 1960. The family then returned to London, where Douglas Harman worked at the Leprosy Study Centre until his retirement.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Scope and content/abstract: The collection primarily comprises papers relating to Douglas Harman's medical missionary service at Changchow Union Hospital, Changchow [Zhangzhou], China in 1939-1950, and his service at the LMS hospital in Mbereshi, Northern Rhodesia [Zambia] in 1952-1955. 1. Changchow material The bulk of the Changchow material comprises loose photographs, glass slides, film strips, and a large collection photographs mounted on display boards which may have been used in publicity for the London Missionary Society.

The non-photographic material includes minutes and other papers relating to the Three Missions Council (some of it pre-dating Harman's arrival in Changchow); reports, statistics and other papers relating to the Changchow Union Hospital; a circular letter and an article by Douglas Harman; and later correspondence between Douglas Harman and other former Changchow missionaries and their families, including the families of Dr Ahmed Fahmy and Dr Wilfrid Busby. Some maps and two brochures relating to Zhangzhou Municipal Hospital relate to later contacts with Zhangzhou by the Harman family.

2. Mbereshi material BR Most of the material relating to Harman's service in Mbereshi is also photographic, including loose photographs, negatives and 35mm slides mainly of scenes in and around the mission and hospital at Mbereshi, including photographs of hospital personnel, patients and medical cases. Some of the photographs can be related to accompanying lists of photographs which Harman sent back to his family in Britain. However, it is also clear that many photographs in the collection do not appear in the lists, while many photographs which are mentioned in the lists do not form part of the material transferred to SOAS. The non-photographic material includes circular letters from Harman at Mbereshi, a report for Mbereshi hospital, magazine cuttings, and a small number of commemorative booklets.

System of arrangement: *


Language: English, Chinese, Bemba

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to SOAS Archives in first instance.

Finding aids: Catalogued on SOAS Archives automated system.


Related material: Papers relating to Douglas Harman are held in the archive of the London Missionary Society (now the Council of World Mission) at the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies


Archivist's note: Description originally compiled by Peter Garrod, SOAS Archives

Date(s) of descriptions: 3rd March 2005

Medical missionary work

Personal names
Harman | Douglas | 1915-2003 | Medical missionary
Harman | Mary Gladys | 1914-2003 | Missionary wife

Corporate names
London Missionary Society