Maxwell, Papers of Dr. James Laidlaw and his son Dr. James Preston Maxwell

Reference code(s): GB 0151 DA26
Held at: Birmingham - University of, Information Services, Orchard Learning Resources Centre
Domain: archival
Title: Maxwell, Papers of Dr. James Laidlaw and his son Dr. James Preston Maxwell
Date(s) of contents: circa 1851-circa 1959
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 16 manuscript boxes containing a total of 2440 items of correspondence, journal and journal notes, photographs, printed material and reports, scrapbook, albums, and sketches


Name of creator(s):
Maxwell | James Laidlaw
Maxwell | James Preston

Administrative/Biographical history: James Laidlaw Maxwell Sr. was born in Scotland in 1836. He studied medicine and took his degree in Scotland. He worked in London at Brompton Hospital and in Birmingham at Birmingham General Hospital. He was also an Elder in the Broad Street Presbyterian Church. He later became the pioneer medical missionary for the English Presbyterian Missionary Society, working in China on the Island of Formosa. He retired in London where he formed and became the first secretary of the Medical Missionary Association. He married Mary Anne Goodall (d Jan, 1918) of Handsworth on 7th April, 1868 in Hong Kong. Maxwell died in March, 1921.

He had two sons, James Preston and James Laidlaw Jr., both of whom also became medical missionaries. James Preston Maxwell (d circa 1960-1961) worked in China at Yungchun Hospital, Fukien, 1899-1919, and Changpoo, Amoy. He was Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Peking Union Medical College, circa 1920-circa 1940. He married (Edith) Lilly Isaacson (16 December), 1899. She died 14 October, 1954. They had one child, Marjorie (Steen, nee Marjorie Gordon Maxwell, b 1908).

Custodial history: The Maxwell papers were presented as a gift to the Selly Oak Colleges Central Library [later forming part of the Orchard Learning Resources Centre] by a member of the Steen family in 1982. Cataloguing of the papers was undertaken by the Special Collections department, University of Birmingham, in March 2000, as a result of the University of Birmingham's relationship with Selly Oak Colleges endowment trust.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Scope and content/abstract: Personal and professional papers of Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell Sr. and his son Dr. James Preston Maxwell, medical missionaries in Taiwan and China; including correspondence of Mary Maxwell (nee Goodall; wife of James Laidlaw Maxwell), Lilly Maxwell (nee Isaacson; wife of James Preston Maxwell), and various personal and professional acquaintances; contains reports, printed materials, journal notes, photographs, albums and watercolour sketches; relating to medical missionary work in China and Taiwan from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.

System of arrangement: Correspondence is arranged by correspondent, thereunder chronologically.


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Open.

Conditions governing reproduction: Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections (email: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Physical characteristics: One small patent box and one small attache case which came with the original deposit have been retained with the collection; notes on any previous storage conditions are included with the physical description.

Finding aids: A catalogue of this collection to file and item level is available on the University of Birmingham Information Service Online Archive Catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at the Orchard Learning Resources Centre and in the Special Collections Department reading room.


Related material: Approximately 380 printed books and pamphlets, mostly written in Chinese, and approximately 50 sheets of music; to be catalogued separately with printed material and music.BR The archives of the Foreign Missions Committee of the Presbyterian Church of England is held at the School of Oriental and African Studies.


Date(s) of descriptions: Created 12/14/2000, modified 09/5/2002 Bassettp

Medical missionaries
Medical missionary work
Missionary work
Religious activities
Religious groups
Wives of missionaries

Personal names
Maxwell | Edith Lilly | d 1954 | née Isaacson | missionary and wife of James Preston Maxwell
Maxwell | James Laidlaw, Junior | 1873-1951 | doctor and Presbyterian medical missionary
Maxwell | James Laidlaw, Senior | 1836-1921 | medical missionary
Maxwell | James Preston | d circa 1960-1961 | doctor and Presbyterian medical missionary
Maxwell | Mary Anne| d 1918 | née Goodall | wife of James Laidlaw Maxwell, Senior
Maxwell | Millicent | missionary
Steen | Marjorie Gordon | née Maxwell | b 1908

Corporate names

East Asia