Women's Missionary Association: Lingtung/Swatow & Hakka mission districts

Scope and Content

Hakka and Lingtung minutes and correspondence, diaries of Catherine Ricketts, first single woman missionary of the PCE.; plans of mission compounds and buildings.

Administrative / Biographical History


Catherine Ricketts, who was born in 1841, became the first WMA missionary. She was appointed to the Swatow [Shantou] Mission in 1877 where she remained until her death in 1907. She had engaged in philanthropic and educational work in Brighton where she had began a branch of the YWCA and had also served as a member of the School Board. In Swatow she took part first in teaching girls, a girls' school had been founded in 1873, but then became absorbed in establishing and teaching in a training school for Bible women. Some years later, in 1905, a Woman's Bible School was also opened at Chao-chow-fu [Chaozhou] which had become another centre of PCE missionary work in the district.

In 1903 a Women's Hospital was opened at Swatow with first Dr Tina Alexander and, after her marriage, Dr Nina Beath in charge. Like many other missionary hospitals the hospital provided training for Chinese nurses and midwives. In 1924 a girls's school at Sua-bue was started and new school buildings provided in Swatow. In 1925 a Chinese headmistress was appointed at Swatow and because of political pressures missionaries were withdrawn for a time. In 1933 the main centre of women's work moved to Chao-chow-fu. In 1939 both Swatow and Chao-chow-fu were occupied by the Japanese. Few WMA missionaries were in Swatow following the outbreak of war between Britain and Japan. Dr Ruth Milne of the Women's Hospital who was in Hong Kong was taken prisoner there and interned throughout the war.


Work with women began in 1883 with the arrival of the Mrs Ridell, wife of the PCE missionary doctor, at Wuking-fu (Wujing). With the help of Shoe Pak-me, a Christian bible woman, she carried out work among women and opened and successfully ran a boarding school for girls for more than twenty years despite, it seems, having a problem with acquiring languages (Band, p. 218). With the appointment of three WMA missionaries in the late 1880s and 1890s itineration in the country regions was developed and a summer school for women workers begun but the work in this region remained small scale, largely due to a lack of missionaries and of funding. During the annual women's meeting, in July 1925, groups of soldiers attacked and looted the mission station at Wuking-fu. All missionaries were consequently withdrawn from the mission field until 1928. WMA missionaries returned in that year and carried on working despite difficulties. Missionary work also continued during the war years and WMA missionaries did what they could to help during the famine of 1943-44. All missionaries had withdrawn by 1952.


Records from the Swatow and Hakka mission districts have been listed together here as joint meetings of the Swatow and Hakka Mission Councils took place and many of the records relate to both districts.

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