Lula M. Disosway Papers

Manuscript Collection #447
Disosway, Lula M. (Lula Marjorie), 1897-1973
Physical description
0.43 Cubic Feet, 165 items , including correspondence, clippings, newsletters, photographs and photograph albums, and miscellaneous documents.
Preferred Citation
Lula M. Disosway Papers (#447), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1893-1977) including correspondence, clippings, newsletters, photographs, photograph albums, speeches, and miscellaneous.

Biographical/historical information

Lula Marjorie Disosway (1897-1973) was born in New Bern, N.C. She was graduated from the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (UNC-G), The Johns Hopkins University, and Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. A medical missionary of the Episcopal Church in China and Alaska, Dr. Disosway served as obstetrician and surgeon (1927-1947). After returning to New Bern to care for her ill mother, she became director of Good Shepherd Hospital (1954-1967) and staffed the maternity clinic at Craven Memorial Hospital (1966-1973).

Scope and arrangement

The collection primarily reflects the nature of Dr. Disosway's medical practice and missionary work in China and Alaska. She served in China from 1926 until 1941. Among the eighteen letters in the collection are several that describe her work at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Shanghai (1937-1940). The letters discuss Dr. Disosway's living quarters; the high cost of supplies caused by the Sino-Japanese War; and Dr. Disosway's heavy workload, especially in delivering babies. Also of interest are her description of Chinese refugees from Yang Chow and their extremely poor living conditions in Shanghai (Nov. 28, 1937), and the problems caused by the prospect of war between Japan and the United States (Oct. 1940). Other items pertaining to St. Elizabeth's Hospital are Dr. Disosway's brief diary (Jan.-Mar., 1926); the institution's annual reports (1937, 1939); copies of District of Shanghai Newsletter (1939, 1940), The Spirit of Missions (1938, 1940), and The China_Press Sunday Magazine (Mar. 10, 1940); a typescript by Dr. Disosway describing hospital activity under wartime conditions (1937); and a copy of a Shanghai newspaper containing a story about the first baby of the newyear (1940), delivered by Dr. Disosway. Loose photographs and photographs in two albums (ca. 1927) depict the hospital staff and patients at St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

Owing to the danger of war in 1941, Dr. Disosway was transferred to Hudson Stuck Memorial Hospital, Fort Yukon, Alaska, where she served as hospital administrator and physician- and, sometimes, as cook. Letters (1941-1942) reflect the nature of the life and people north of the Arctic Circle and discuss hospital problems. Photographs depict the hospital and its staff and patients, as well as local Indians. Articles describing the work of the hospital are found in copies of The Alaskan Churchman (Aug., 1948) and The Mission Herald (1942, 1943, 1947).

Additional material pertaining to Dr. Disosway's career includes her anecdotal sketch of Dr. John Wilson Wood, secretary of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church; diplomas, certificates, and licenses reflecting her education and practice; published articles and a speech pertaining to her career and memorials to her in New Bern; and photographs taken in the Good Shepherd Hospital in New Bern.

The collection contains a variety of material tangentially related to Dr. Disosway's career. Contained in one of the photograph albums (ca. 1927) are views of China and the Philippine Islands. Shots taken in China depict junks on the Yangtze River; street scenes and structures in Shanghai, Peking, Soochow, Hong Kong, and Hangchow; and the aircraft carrier HMS ARGUS. Shots taken in the Philippines depict street scenes and structures in Manila and Baguio in the island of Luzon; the native Igorot people engaged in a variety of activities; missionary structures and thatched roof huts of the Igorot; and rural scenes including mountains and jungles. Also in the collection is a file of correspondence and photographs (1944-1945) pertaining to the launching of the USS MOUNT KATMAI, built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, on January 6, 1945.

Administrative information
Custodial History

July 5, 1982, ca. 150 items and 2 volumes; Papers (1893-1976) of Episcopal missionary surgeon to China and Alaska, including correspondence, photographs, clippings, newsletters, certificates, photo albums, and miscellaneous. Gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Donald J. Disosway, New Bern, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald J. Disosway

Processing information

Processed by J. Smith, December 1982

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
Disosway, Lula M. (Lula Marjorie), 1897-1973
Corporate Names
Good Shepherd Hospital (New Bern, N.C.)
Hudson Stuck Memorial Hospital
Mount Katmai (Ship)
St. Elizabeth's Hospital (Shanghai, China)
Missionaries, Medical--Alaska
Missionaries, Medical--China
Women physicians--North Carolina--New Bern
Fort Yukon (Alaska)--Social life and customs

Container list
Box 1 Folder b Annual Reports and Newsletters, 1937-1948
Box 1 Folder e USS MOUNT KATMAI File, 1944-1945
Box 1 Folder f Miscellany: Diary, Wood Sketch, etc
Box 1 Folder i Photograph Album, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, ca. 1927
Box 1 Folder j Photograph Album, China, Philippines, Hong Kong, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, ca. 1927
Folder os1 Diplomas, Licenses, Certificates; Photographs of staff and patients at St. Elizabeth's Hospital; China Press Sunday Magazine,March 10, 1940