The History of Western Medicine in China
Welcome to the resource portal. Categories of resources are listed on the left, or they can be browsed by scrolling down this page.
This is a wide collection of information -- archive guides, primary sources, digitized materials –- selected to assist lay people and undergraduate students, as well as established scholars and graduate students. Most sources to date focus on the period from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the formation of the People's Republic of China. In the future we plan to include all aspects of institutionalized medicine in China from the nineteenth century to the present, including TCM. Suggestions are welcome.
Items marked with an asterix (*) were prepared directly through project funding by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Archive and Library Guides
The following guides have been prepared for the substantial records both in and outside of China documenting the history of Western medicine there. American holdings are largely records of the work of medical missionaries and the Rockefeller Foundation, while Chinese archives include public health records, government documents and institutional archives for hospitals and medical schools. This is only a selection of worldwide records on this subject and we hope to eventually include guides to other key repositories in the United States and China, and add guides for collections in the Republic of China (Taiwan), Japan, the United Kingdom, and beyond.
United States and Canada
NEW!: Peter Parker Papers (Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University)
Database of Hospitals and Medical Institutions
From the founding dispensaries by missionaries to the substantial medical infrastructure incorporated into the People's Republic of China in 1949, hundreds of institutions have left records of their work in China. Many institutions had multiple names in English and Chinese, while other small hospitals or medical schools were shuttered or formed larger and more efficient institutions.
Enter names, places, and keywords in the box below to search a database designed to help researchers track name changes and identify locations with historical materials about them. Suggestions are welcome.
Hospital and Medical School Records
These long runs of institutional reports provide information not only about individuals and institutional history, but also about diseases encountered in various regions from Canton (Guangzhou) in the south to Peking (Beijing) in the North.
- Canton Hospital reports, 1908-1941 (missing 1911-12, see Medical Missionary Reports below for earlier CHR)
- Foochow Missionary Hospital reports, 1872, 1884, 1886, 1896, 1901, 1903-04, 1917-18
- Pekin hospital, Pekin, China, Report, New York: Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, 1887
- Peking Union Medical College / Hospital reports, 1908-1929 (missing 1910-1914, 1922)
- Peking Union Medical College, Addresses & Papers: Dedication Ceremonies and Medical Conference, Peking, China, 1922
- Shantung Christian University (Cheeloo) and Yenching Universities, Agriculture Sanitation Medical work, 1939
- Soochow Hospital anniversary booklet, 1933
General Reports and Guides
These guides and reports provide detailed “snapshots” of health and disease conditions, in addition to the development of medical personnel and institutions in China over time.
Medical Missionary Reports, 1838-1921
- Thomas Colledge, The Medical Missionary Society, 1838
- Peter Parker, Statements respecting hospitals in China, London: Edward Suter, 1841
- Peter Parker, The first and second reports of the Medical missionary society in China: with minutes of proceedings, hospital reports &c, Macao: S.W. Williams, 1841
- Medical Missionary Society in China, Papers relative to hospitals in China, Boston: I.R. Butts, 1841
- Peter Parker, Statements respecting hospitals in China, prededed by a letter to John Abercrombie, Glasgow: J. Maclehose, 1842
- Peter Parker, Report of the Medical missionary society in China. For the year 1845, Victoria: Hong Kong Register Press, 1846.
- Medical Missionary Society in China reports, 1858-1885 (missing 1860-61, 1879)
- Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China, Shanghai 1890 (discussion and debate on medical missions, related charitable institutions, and opium work, 268-361)
- William G. Lennox, The Health of Missionary Families in China: A Statistical Study, Denver: University of Denver, 1920
- Balme, Harold. China and Modern Medicine, a Study in Medical Missionary Development. London: the Livingstone bookshop, 1921
Chinese Imperial Customs Medical Reports, 1870-1910
- Imperial Maritime Customs Medical Reports
- Charles Gordon, An epitome of the reports of the medical officers to the Chinese Imperial Customs Service, from 1871-1882, London : Baillière, Tindall, & Cox, 1884
Rockefeller Medical Commission, 1914
- Medicine in China, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Chinese Medical Association Guides, 1928-1940
- Chinese Medical Guides - 中國醫界指南 all institutions and medical workers (1928, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1940)*
Medical Periodicals offer one of the best "archives" of the history of medicine in China. Two of the most important are the China Medical Missionary Journal and its successor which ran from 1887-1931 (English only), and the National Medical Journal (1915-1931). These two merged in 1932 to become the Chinese Medical Journal (in Chinese 中華醫學會, 1916-present).
Full access to the National Medical Journal (and many other Chinese language medical journals) is available through the digital database 大成老旧刊全文数据库 at major research institutions in the U.S. and China (one month trial access may be available through your library). That database is missing the volumes scanned and available below for the years 1919 to 1923. See OCLC Worldcat for paper holdings.
China Medical Missionary Association, 1886-1907 (1907 name changed to China Medical Association, in 1932 merged with National Medical Association to form the Chinese Medical Association and Chinese Medical Journal)
National Medical Association 中華醫學會 (1915-1932, when it merged with China Medical Association, English name became Chinese Medical Association, Chinese Medical Journal).
Digitized Photograph and Image Collections
The following collections of images and photographs provide visual evidence of the evolution and variety of Western medicine in China from Lam Qua's grotesquely beautiful paintings of tumors, to black and white photographs of the vaccination work of ABMAC during WWII, to the stunning posters of the mass mobilization campaigns of the People's Republic of China. Please see each collection's website for copyright issues.
Late Qing China (19th century to 1911)
- Nineteenth-century medical portraits of Lam Qua, 1830s
Peter Parker Collection, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University
- Sun Yatsen and the Canton Hospital, 1866-1894
"求学与立志救国 (To seek knowledge and strive to save the nation)," Sun-Yatsen University Archives,
- Manchurian Plague Photos, 1911
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard, Strong Papers
Republican China (1912-1949)
- Medical Missions in China, c. 1910s-30s*
More than 100 images of missionary medicine and science from the MRL Collection at Burke Library, Columbia University
- International Mission Photography Archive, c. 1910s-1940s
More than 600 images related to medicine in China, multiple
- Peking University Health Science Center, 1912-2012 (formerly National Medical College)
Historical Development of Peking University Health Science Center, PUHSC Archives
- Peking Union Medical College
China Medical Board, Photo Essay with primary documents, 1914-1949, Rockefeller Foundation Archives
- American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (ABMAC)*
Founded in 1937 to give aid to existing Chinese medical agencies, Butler Library, Columbia University
- Portraits of women doctors working in China, c. 1890-1939
Harvard University, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute (if error message, copy/paste entire title to browser)
People's Republic of China (1949 to present)
The project is building a bibliography of relevant works in the history of Western Medicine in China. This bibliography is housed externally with Zotero to allow for better exporting and searching capabilities. Suggestions for additional references are welcome.*
Selected Electronic Texts
Selections below are organized by chronologically by period. Thanks to the Internet Archive and the Medical Heritage Library where many additional texts are available, with particular strengths in pre-1923 texts about medical missions.
- Francesco Maria Nigrisoli, Febris china chinae expugnata, seu, Illustr. aliquot virorum opuscula, quae veram tradunt methodum, febres china chinae curandi, Ferrariae: Apud Lilium, 1700
- William Baldwin, ed. A short practical narrative of the diseases which prevail among the American seamen, at Wampoa in China: in the year 1805 ... Philadelphia: Thomas T. Stiles, 1807
- William Lockhart, The Medical Missionary in China: a narrative of twenty years' experience, London: Hurst and Blackett, 1861.
- Charles Gordon, China from a medical point of view in 1860 and 1861, London: J. Churchill, 1863.
- John H. Dudgeon, The Diseases of China: their causes, conditions and prevalence, contrasted with those of Europe, Glasgow: Dunn & Wright, 1877
- Patrick Manson, The Filaria sanguinis hominis and certain new forms of parasitic disease in India, China and warm countries, London: H.K. Lewis, 1883
- Dugald Christie, Ten Years in Manchuria: A story of medical mission work in Moukden, 1883-1893, Paisley: J. & R. Parlane, 1895.
- Saneyoshi, Yasuzumi, Suzuki, S. The Surgical history of the naval war between Japan and China: during 1894-95; translated from the original Japanese report, Tokio: Tokio Printing Co., 1900
- Elliot I. Osgood, Breaking down Chinese walls, from a doctor's viewpoint, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1908
- Omar Kilborn, Heal the sick: an appeal for medical missions in China, Toronto: Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, 1910.
- James Menzies, Link by link, Toronto: Board of Foreign Missions, Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1913
- Elma Paget, The claim of suffering, a plea for medical missions, London: Society for the Propogation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1913
- Belle J. Allen, A crusade of compassion for the healing of the nations: a study of medical missions for women and children, West Medford, Mass.: Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions, 1919
- John Charles Keyte, Andrew Young of Shensi: adventure in medical missions, London: Carey Press, 1924
- Albert Leroy Shelton, Pioneering in Tibet: a personal record of life and experience in mission fields, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1925
People's Republic of China/Maoist China:
- Joseph R. Quinn, Medicine and Public Health in the People's Republic of China, Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, 1973.