Katie Murray Papers

Manuscript Collection #216
Murray, Katie, 1897-1982
Physical description
0.65 Cubic Feet, 367 items , diaries, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Katie Murray Papers (#216), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1927-1963) consisting of correspondence, reference of Chinese social practices and customs, diaries, letters of missionaries, Chinese Civil War.

Biographical/historical information

Margaret Catherine Murray was born on February 8, 1897, in Kenansville (Duplin County), N.C. Upon her mother's death in 1905, she went to live with her Uncle George and Aunt Louise in Rose Hill, N.C. In 1920 Miss Murray relinquished a high school teaching position to attend a Women's Missionary Union training school in Louisville, Kentucky. Two years later she traveled to Peking, China, to attend a foreign language school where she learned the Mandarin dialect. In 1927 she commenced her missionary career in Chengchow which served as the Southern Baptist Missionary base of operations for gospel work in the five counties of Honan Province. After a furlough in Rose Hill in 1936, she returned to Chengchow and was within a year caught up in the turmoil of the Sino-Japanese War. The war came to Chengchow on February 14, 1938, when the city experienced its first air raid. Soon Miss Murrary and her co-workers became actively involved with refugee relief work and remained so until 1944. Japanese aerial reconnaissance and bombardment continued and in April, 1939, Miss Murray narrowly escaped death during an air raid while visiting the outstation of Mi Hsien. On October 4, 1940, Japanese troops entered Chengchow but left within the month. Miss Murray continued her work until April, 1944, when the Japanese again threatened the city. She fled over the mountains to Sian; and, after reaching Chunking in late May, she flew to Calcutta en route to her home in North Carolina. In March of 1946, Miss Murray returned to China and resumed work in Honan Province. Two years later she was forced to flee by the advance of the Chinese Communists and she settled in Kwangsi Province. The Chinese Communists entered Kweilin (Kwangsi Province), in January of 1950. Miss Murray left the Chinese mainland for the third and final time in October, 1950. She returned to the Orient in 1954 and completed her last years of missionary service on Taiwan in 1959.

Scope and arrangement

Throughout the correspondence (which comprises the bulk of the collection) there are numerous references to Chinese social practices and customs, such as idolatry, foot-binding, and Buddhist vegetarianism. Demon exorcism, individual and group conversions, and the religious activities of the various Protestant missionaries in the area are also referred to frequently.

The largest segment of the correspondence is for the years 1937-1941. Items of special interest during this period include the annual evangelistic reports for the Chengchow mission field and correspondence between Miss Murray and the Foreign Mission Board.

Also included are extracts from the letters of missionaries describing the Japanese struggle for and occupation of Tsining and the Japanese aerial bombardment of gospel boats on the Yellow River (January - February, 1938). Excerpts from the letters of Kaifeng (Honan Province) missionaries describe the Japanese occupation of that city (June, 1938). There is also much correspondence during this period telling of the refugee work performed by the missionaries of Chengchow and the condition of the provincial populace. In her correspondence with relatives in North Carolina, Miss Murray describes the air raids on Chengchow, its occupation by the Japanese (October, 1941) and their behavior, local Chinese military policy, social and economic conditions, and her work among the mountain tribes of Honan Province.

Correspondence during the years 1945-1950 deals primarily with mission activities and the deterioration of the Chinese social fabric during the Chinese Civil War. Miss Murray's correspondence from Kwangsi Province frequently contains comparisons of life in North and South China. Items of interest in this period include a copy of "Ebinezer Echoes," a missionary newsletter, in which a missionary couple describes their "exodus" from China during World War II (travel conditions, Sino-American currency exchange rates and wartime inflation). A letter dated march 4, 1946, from another missionary couple gives a detailed description of the civil war in the Shanghai area. The mission report for the year 1949 and a letter dated November 7, mention the short-lived effort to begin a project in newspaper evangelism. Correspondence in 1950 deals primarily with conditions under Chinese Communist rule in Kwangsi Province and its effect on missionary activities.

Correspondence for the years 1954-1958 emanates from Kaohsiung, Formosa (now Taiwan). Again missionary work is the major topic. Of special interest are her references to the Hakka mountaineers living on the island. A letter dated July 8, 1956, expresses dismay that Taiwanese missionaries changed currency at illegal rates. The effect of the American presence on the Taiwanese as well as the effect of the influx of mainland refugees are discussed by Miss Murray. Finally, in a letter which is totally unrelated to mission work (October 9, 1956), Miss Murray expresses her opinion of the Pearsall Plan for public school integration in North Carolina.

The undated materials contained in the collection are for the most part individual testimonies of Christian converts. One undated letter describes the "show trial" of three Chinese pastors in Kaifeng and the anti-Christian policy of the Chinese communists in that city.

Other undated materials of interest are a two-page biography of Miss Murray and a tract by Mrs. Wilson Fielder about the Chengchow Mission during the years of 1930-1948.

The collection also includes five diaries. Although much of the material contained therein is supplementary to the correspondence, the source of the most significant information is the appendices. A close perusal of the appendices will be of value to those interested in the economy of China during the war years. Prices of labor, goods, exchange rates, etc. are given.

A very detailed description of the Japanese occupation of Chenghow is given in the 1941 diary (October) and entries for the months of April through October of 1944 describe Miss Murray's escape from China.

Entries for 1950 pertain to efforts to continue missionary work during the Chinese Communist occupation of Kwangsi Province and Miss Murray's subsequent departure from the Chinese mainland.

See also Katie Murray Oral History Interview #8.

Administrative information
Custodial History

November 30, 1972, 334 items; Papers (1927-1963), including correspondence, diaries, reports and miscellaneous written from China. Gift of Miss Katie Murray, Rose Hill, North Carolina.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Miss Katie Murray

Processing information

Processed by R. Kepner, November 1973

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Murray, Katie, 1897-1982
Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945
China--Description and travel
China--Economic conditions--20th century
China--History--Civil War, 1945-1949
China--Social life and customs
Taiwan--Description and travel