Ola V. Lea Papers, 1893-1973

Manuscript Collection #351

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Ola V. Lea Papers
Creator: Lea, Ola V., b. 1892
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1893-1973) including of correspondence, notebooks, pamphlets, books, photographs, newsletters, family letters, photographs, slides, maps.
Extent: 5.43 Cubic feet, 1600 items, consisting of correspondence, notebooks, pamphlets, books, photographs, and miscellaneous materials.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

January 16, 1978, ca. 1,600 items [not including almost 1,700 slides and photos]; Papers (1914-1973) of Baptist missionary to China and Taiwan, including correspondence, reports, photographs, pamphlets and miscellaneous. Gift of Mr. Fred Hyatt, Greensboro, N.C.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

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

Preferred Citation

Ola V. Lea Papers (#351), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mr. Fred Hyatt

Processing Information

  • Processed by C. Cook; J Smith, December 1983

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services

Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Ola V. Lea (b. 1892), a Baptist missionary to Southern China and Taiwan for thirty-seven years, was born in Ringgold, Va., and educated at Radford Normal School and Virginia Intermont College, Bristol, Va. Beginning in 1912 she spent seven years teaching in public schools before entering the Women's Missionary Training School. Following graduation in 1925 she accepted her first assignment teaching in Soochow, China, until 1939, when she became principal of the Women's Missionary Union Training School in Shanghai. Later she served as Dean of Women at China Baptist Theological Seminary in Kaifeng, remaining in China through the Japanese invasion (1939-40) and the Chinese civil war (1947-1949). The World War II years (1941-1945), however, were spent stateside.

The Communist takeover in 1949 forced her removal to Taipei, Taiwan, where she continued her missionary work as an assistant professor at the National Taiwan University Hospital until her retirement in 1962. During regular furloughs and after retirement, Miss Lea continued her studies and lectured about her work at various churches and church camps throughout the U.S. Following retirement she made her home with her sister in Greensboro, N.C.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The bulk of the correspondence in the collection consists of newsletters sent to Miss Lea by missionaries stationed throughout the world. These newsletters contain information about local political, social, and economic conditions, as well as discussions of progress made in the missionary field- including accounts of particularly touching conversions.

Early correspondence (1925-1932) reflects activities at Soochow Station, including the operation of Yates School, legal efforts to close the school, and church services at the mission. Several letters refer to the Japanese occupation of China (1939-1945) and the subsequent civil war (1947-49). They describe conditions in Japanese-occupied Canton (June 3, 1939) and the evacuation of approximately one-fourth of the Foreign Mission Board missionaries in the Orient; the daily raids on Shiuchow (April 13, 1941); difficulties between missionaries and government authorities, such as the "Freezing," or the seizure of the Christian's property by Japanese (Feb. 22, 1944); the evacuation of missionaries due to the Japanese occupation (September 26, 1944); wartime inflation, Baptist activities in China, and the evacuation of Kwelin (Oct. 24, 1944); liaison positions between Chinese and American forces which were held by a number of missionaries in Chungking (Jan. 17, 1945); impressions of the effects of war on Shanghai (April 29, 1946); the evacuation process (Oct., 1950); the difficulty of obtaining exit permits and the imprisonment of missionaries (Jan. 22, 1951); incidents of torture and execution in northwestern China (Jun 4, 1951); the trial of three pastors and the imprisonment of others (Sept. 5, 1951); a radio appeal for aid to mainland China made by President and Madame Chiang (April 4, 1952); and daily bombings of Quemoy (Fall, 1963).

Other letters describe a Chinese pastor's opinion on the positive effects of communism on the Christian movement (Dec., 1966); Indonesian attitudes toward religion and religious tolerance (Dec., 1966); the Hindu Diwali or Festival of Lights (Dec., 1965); the effects of a drought in Jordan (Mar., 1959); the political and economic situation in Indonesia (Mar. 31, 1967); and National Taiwan University's religious policy of "benevolent neutrality" (Nov. 3, 1950).

Additional correspondence from Miss Lea's friends, family, and church groups reflects their interest in and support of her missionary work. Family letters deal primarily with the illness of one of Miss Lea's sisters, while friends write of their travels and missionary experiences and of the esteem in which they hold missionaries who travel to foreign countries to spread Christianity. Of interest is a series of letters (1940s) which discuss various people's horror at the prospects of the institution of a drinking water fluoridation program in North Carolina.

Among Miss Lea's notebooks (1930-1962) are volumes containing notes pertaining to Bible and Sunday school classes, chapel talks, Southern Baptist Convention sessions, Chinese vocabulary, and a variety of other topics.

The collection includes a large number of photographs and slides. The photographs are mostly of churches, schools, and groups of teachers and students. Many of the slides in the collection were produced by the Foreign Mission Board and depict the life and scenery in several southeastern Asian countries. Notable among the slides of Japan are view of ground zero at the Hiroshima City Hall, the National Diet Building in Tokyo, and Kin Kakuii in Kyoto, possibly just after it was rebuilt. Slides of Hong Kong include depictions of refugee shacks, the Dragon Festival, warships and a Buddhist temple. Many photographs of Buddhas are present, including good examples from Taiwan and Thailand. The Taiwan/Formosa slide series is particularly interesting in that it includes Taiwanese street scenes, a farmer plowing rice fields with a water buffalo, agricultural terracing, and several views of a Confucian temple which shows the amalgamation of the Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist religions.

The one filmstrip in the collection is a promotional aid for the China Baptist Seminary in Kaifeng. A cassette tape (1975), distributed by the World Literature Crusade, mentions that organization's methods of raising money for missionary programs.

An oversized folder contains photographs of wedding parties, and a student group.

The map file contains a street map of Taipei, a colorful map of Taiwan annotated in Chinese, and a map (1932) of mission locations in China.

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Card Catalog Entries Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Reading Room's card catalog. This system is no longer maintained, but it is left in place to help on-site researchers locate particular topics in the collection.

Geographic Entries :

  • China, Soochow and Shanghai
  • Taiwan, Taipei

Autograph Entries :

    • Ervin, Sam[uel] J., Jr. 1966
    • McLendon, L[ennox] P., Jr. 1965

Subject Entries :

    • CHINA— Canton— 1939
    • CHINA— Economy— 1944
    • CHINA— Kwelin— 1944
    • CHINA— Quemoy— 1963
    • CHINA— Sino-Japanese War
    • CHINA— Sino-Japanese War— Canton
    • CHINA— Sino-Japanese War— Shanghai
    • CHINA— Sino-Japanese War— Shiuchow
    • CHINA— Social Life and Customs— Celebrations
    • CHINA— Shiuchow— 1941
    • DISASTERS— Droughts— Jordan
    • ECONOMY— China— 1944
    • EDUCATION— Mission Schools— China
    • HEALTH AND MEDICINE— Public Opinion
    • INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS— Communism— China
    • INDONESIA— Economy
    • INDONESIA— Politics and Government
    • INDONESIA— Religion
    • RELIGION— Baptist— Mission
    • RELIGION— Baptist— Missionaries
    • RELIGION— Hinduism
    • RELIGION— Persecution— China
    • SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS— Holidays— China
    • WAR— SINO-JAPANESE— Prisoners of War

Map Entries :

  • ASIA: CHINA (1932)
  • ASIA: TAIPEI (undated)
  • ASIA: TAIWAN (undated)

Date Entries :

  • 1940-1949
  • 1950-1959
  • 1960-1969

Images below are listed alphabetically by subject. This list reflects only those portions of the collection for which negatives have been prepared.

Description: Mr. and Mrs. Riggan, Miss Lee's landlords
Location: Virginia
Date: 1912
Call Number: p-351/755(664)

Description: Factory and water tower, Railroad tracks
Location: Virginia
Date: 1910s
Call Number: p-351/1021(638)

Description: Caskets and broken tombstones
Location: China
Date: 1930s
Call Number: p-351/635(678)

Description: Castle guarding city
Location: China— Tsingtao
Date: 1937
Call Number: p-351/637(679)

EDUCATION— PRIVATE SCHOOLS— Baptist Theological Seminary
Description: Teacher and students
Location: China— Kaifeng
Date: 1919
Call Number: p-351/408(684)

EDUCATION— PRIVATE SCHOOLS— Baptist Theological Seminary
Description: Group of young American women
Location: China— Kaifeng
Date: 1939
Call Number: p-351/244(628)

Description: Four young men
Call Number: p-351/931(656)
Date: 1930s

MEN— Clothing and Dress
Description: Man in cravat
Call Number: p-351/936(649), 1020(652)
Date: 1890s, 1920s

Description: View from road
Location: China— Lao Shan Tsingtao
Date: 1937
Call Number: p-351/534(682)

Description: Man on banjo, woman on guitar
Location: Virginia?
Date: 1900s
Call Number: p-351/1019(636)

RELIGION— China— Ceremonies
Description: Paper house, ancestral family shrine for ceremonial fire
Location: China
Date: 1930s
Call Number: p-351/631(674), 632(675), 633(676), 634(677)

RELIGION— Missionaries— Evangel House
Description: View from
Location: China— Tsingtao
Date: 1937
Call Number: p-351/636(680)

Description: Three Chinese children in front of shrine
Location: China
Date: 1930s
Call Number: p-351/407(683)

Call Number: p-351/1012(653), 1013(651)

Description: Six young women standing on train engine
Location: Virginia
Date: 1900s
Call Number: p-351/241(365)

Description: Two couples under tree
Call Number: p-351/250(622)
Date: 1900s

Description: Boys on sawhorse drinking soda
Call Number: p-351/1022(637)
Date: 1900s

SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS— Entertainment— Picnics
Description: Young men and women at edge of woods; group next to split rail fence
Call Number: p-351/249(634), 934(642)
Date: 1900s

Description: Lee relatives
Call Number: p-351/245(629), 246(630), 247(631), 248(632), 1014(661)

Description: Chinese family with Ola Lee
Call Number: p-351/644(672)
Date: 1930s

Description: Family group in front of home
Call Number: p-351/1004(644)
Date: 1880s

SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS— Family Life— Children
Description: Carrie Adams Barlow
Location: Virginia
Date: 1900s
Call Number: p-351/756(666)

SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS— Family Life— Children
Description: Bill; girl with dog; O. Carter; young girl holding baby; young man; twin girls with large bonnets
Call Number: p-351/752(663), 753(662), 757(665), 929(640), 930(655), 933(657)
Date: 1920s

SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS— Holidays— Christmas
Description: Christmas Play
Location: China— Wei Ling
Date: 1947?
Call Number: p-351/644a(673)

Description: Chinese wedding, American dress
Location: China
Date: 1964
Call Number: p-351/639(670)

Description: Bridesmaids?
Location: China
Date: 1964
Call Number: p-351/642(669)

Description: Chinese men in wedding party?
Location: China— Soochow
Date: 1964
Call Number: p-351/640(667), 641(669)

Location: China
Date: 1930s
Call Number: p-351/594(681)

WAR— WORLD WAR I— Army— Personnel
Description: Soldier
Call Number: p-351/1003(641)
Date: 1918

Call Number: p-351/932(647), 937(650), 1005-1006(648, 645), 1011(646), 1023(639)
Date: 1920s, 1880s

Description: Woman in summer dress and wide brim hat, various portrait poses
Call Number: p-351/935(643), 1015-1018(660, 658, 659, 654)
Date: 1910s

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Box 2#0351.2
Correspondence, June, 1951-Dec., 1958
Box 3#0351.3
Correspondence, 1959-Oct., 1973, undated
Box 4#0351.4
Notebooks, class notes, lesson plans, minutes of meetings, passport, financial records
Box 6#0351.6
Financial and medical papers, church bulletins, newsletters and pamphlets, mission meeting minutes, newspapers and clippings
Box 11#0351.11
Assorted notebooks
Box 12#0351.12
Slides, filmstrips, and cassette of speech for World Literature Crusade, "One Hour Watch"

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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