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Lewis Frederick Havermale papers, 1916-1935.

Emory University

Pitts Theology Library

1531 Dickey Drive, Suite 560

Atlanta, GA 30322


Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rq33x

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Havermale, Lewis Frederick.
Title: Lewis Frederick Havermale papers, 1916-1935.
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 351
Extent: 1.6 cubic feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:Consists of the correspondence, training materials, and literature collection of Lewis Frederick Havermale, Methodist missionary to China.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


[after identification of item(s)], Lewis Frederick Havermale papers, MSS 351, Archives and Manuscript Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.


Processed by Pitts Theology Library staff, February 2012.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Lewis Frederick Havermale (b. June 1886) was an American Methodist pastor from Canton, Illinois. He and his wife Clara (b. ca. 1888) served as missionaries in West China from October 1916- Spring 1922, and again from October 1923-March 1927. From 1929-1931, Havermale worked on the Religion faculty at West China Union University in Chengdu, China. Over the span of these fifteen years, the Havermales and their son Jerrold (b. May 30, 1923 in the U.S.) lived in several locations across the “Chunking district” and elsewhere, including Chengdu (written by Havermale as Chendu), Chongking (Chungking), Linxia City (Hochow), and Tzechow. The primary aspects of the Havermale ’ work in West China included the establishment and development of hospitals and schools throughout the Chungking district, as well as fundraising, treasury-keeping, and the organization of social events. Lewis’s pastoral role as a self-described “circuit-rider” often took him away from home to preach and work throughout the region.

The Havermales left Vancouver in the fall of 1916 to take up missionary work in West China, replacing John W. Yost. After arriving at the port city of Shanghai, they traveled down the Yangtze River to Chengdu, which would be their on-again, off-again home for the next decade. In January 1917, the Havermales moved to Chungking. In Chungking, they experienced the first rumblings of an ongoing civil war, as the insurrection and inter-province fighting that characterized China’s “Warlord Era” stood constantly in the background of their missionary work. At one point in the summer of 1917, provincial troops from the city of Kweichow (Guizhou) passed near their home. Lewis wrote home about the distant but frequent sound of rifle shots within earshot of the house. Chungking would serve as the Havermales ’ home and base of operations until March 1918, when they moved again, this time to Hochow. In November of that year, Lewis was appointed “missionary-in-charge” for the town of Tzechow. Clara served as superintendent of schools for the Tzechow district, where they would live and work until their “furlough” of Spring 1922-Fall 1923. It was during this furlough period in the United States that Lewis and Clara’s son Jerrold was born.

The Havermales (all three of them) returned to Tzechow, now controlled by a different faction, in the fall of 1923. The period from 1923-1927 was a chaotic one, as political conditions in West China deteriorated. Lewis was frequently away from his new family, while Clara dealt with theft and other forms of mayhem at mission schools resulting from the turmoil of the civil war. Politically, the Havermales supported Yang Sen, the Nationalist leader and warlord, and expressed an overt anti-bolshevism. However, they also expressed concern about some of the more extreme Nationalist measures to suppress Communism in the area. Furthermore, despite rumors of anti-Christian sentiment in the mission schools and among student-agitators, there are no indications in this collection that the Havermales or any Methodist missionaries were ever threatened or placed in overt danger by any side during the civil war. Nevertheless, by March of 1927 the situation had deteriorated to the point where the U.S. consulate ordered the withdrawal of all American Methodist missionaries from Tzechow.

While information as to the Havermales’ whereabouts and work in the years immediately following the evacuation is spotty, they likely spent some time in Shanghai in 1928. By 1929 Lewis had been appointed a member of the Religion faculty at West China Union University in Chengdu, while Clara worked as an English tutor. In 1931, the Havermales embarked on a world tour, traveling to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe before returning to the United States. Circa 1932-33, after another year in Chengdu, it is likely that the family returned to the United States again.

Scope and Content Note

The Lewis Frederick Havermale Collection is housed in four archival boxes and is arranged chronologically. The bulk of the collection is composed of correspondence covering the period 1916-1935, the majority of which Lewis and Clara Havermale spent as missionaries in West China. Also included in the collection are instruction materials used by the missionaries circa 1916-1917, correspondence dealing with the evacuation of U.S. missionaries from Tzechow in 1927, photocopied documents and photographs from the Havermales' trip to Manila and around the world in 1931, and various unidentified photographs. A mission log detailing the statistics of the Havermales' missionary project and featuring photographs of them, their colleagues, and friends is a highlight.

The Collection's correspondence was written primarily by Lewis and Clara Havermale, although beginning with 1933 the letters come primarily from the Havermales' replacements in China. The vast majority of the correspondence is personal and depicts the everyday and often mundane experiences of a missionary family in China, but virtually every letter mentions something about the details of Methodist missionary work going on there in the teens, twenties, and thirties. Especially notable are the Havermales' experiences with regard to the civil war taking place during this period, known in Chinese history as the "Warlord Era." There are numerous examples of letters in which the Havermales relate their own proximity to various military engagements and the war's effect on their missionary work; the period from 1925-1927, culminating in the withdrawal of all American missionaries from Tzechow at the order of the U.S. consulate, is especially rich with such detail. However, most of the correspondence is primarily casual and familiar in tone, as the Havermales were writing mostly to friends and relatives in the United States. As a result the collection is quite rich with the small and mundane details of everyday life, especially domestic life. This is true for almost all of the correspondence, but after 1923 much of the correspondence is written by Clara, who includes almost atomistic detail regarding the raising of her baby son Jerrold in West China.

The collection is useful in a purely historical sense as well. Correspondence from the years 1917 and 1918 includes the Havermales' perceptions of the First World War, as well as some of their anxieties about the enlistment of some of their friends in the United States. A Cholera outbreak in the summer of 1920 and Jerrold's bout with dysentery in July of 1924 highlight a widespread concern for public health among missionaries in West China. The earliest letter from 1923 provides insight and reactions from the Havermales and others regarding the Great Kanto Earthquake, which hit Tokyo shortly before Lewis and Clara returned to China after the birth of their son. The letters of the early 30s reveal some anxieties about the emergence of Communism as a powerful political force in China as well as the effect of the Great Depression in the United States. The non-correspondence part of the collection is quite interesting and includes many photographs, drawings, and statistics. The teaching material from 1916-1917 provides insights into the methods of missionary teachers in China during this period. The West China "mission log," which according to correspondence likely dates from 1924-1925, is full of statistics regarding the Methodist mission in West China, as well as some biographical information about the Havermales.

The material is in fairly good condition as a whole. However, some of the correspondence is hard to read and the carbon paper on which much of it is typed is quite thin and fragile; care is advised. Chronologically, the correspondence is most comprehensive for the periods 1916-1922 and 1923-1927; the period from 1929-1935, beginning with the Havermales' return to Chengtu after the evacuation from Tzechow and ending with their likely return to the United States, is more spotty. Overall, the vast majority of the material is routine but quite comprehensive; a thorough examination of it will likely yield interesting and valuable insights.

Boxes 1 and 2 of the collection have been digitized and are available in PDF documents by folder.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by type, then date.

Selected Search Terms

Topical Terms

Container List

Box Folder Content
1 1 Correspondence, 1916
1 2 Correspondence, 1916-1917
1 3 Correspondence, 1917
1 4 Correspondence, 1918
1 5 Correspondence, 1918-1919
1 6 Correspondence, 1919
1 7 Correspondence, 1920
1 8 Correspondence, 1920-1921
1 9 Correspondence, 1921-1922
2 1 Correspondence, 1923-1924
2 2 Correspondence, 1924-1925
2 3 Correspondence, 1925
2 4 Correspondence, 1925-1926
2 5 Correspondence, 1926
2 6 Correspondence, 1927-1929
2 7-8 Correspondence, 1930
2 9 Correspondence, 1931
2 10 Correspondence, 1932
2 11 Correspondence, 1933
2 12 Correspondence, 1934-1935
3 1 Instruction Materials, 1916-1917
3 2 Tzechow vs. USA Consul - Evacuation, 1927
3 3-4 Travel from Chengtu to Manila, 1931
3 4 West China Mission Log, undated
4 Pamphlet, circa 1959
4 Unidentified Portrait, undated
4 Unidentified Portrait, undated
4 Three Photographic Panoramas, undated