Papers of Helen B K Maclean

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of two versions of unpublished manuscripts by Maclean, Memoirs of a Missionary, the latter version of which includes pictures and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Helen B K Maclean (known as Nell), (United Free) Church of Scotland missionary in China, was born in a village in the highlands of Scotland. Her father was a schoolmaster and elder in the village church and she graduated from Edinburgh University (MA) in 1916. She was accepted for China by the by the mission in 1921 and spent her first six months in Beijing learning Mandarin. Further language training and an introduction to evangelising followed in Kaiyuan in Manchuria where she first met Fragrant Tree (Wang Sufen) who was to become her lifelong friend.

In 1923 she moved to Shenyang to teach in the mission's girls school, became the school's principal missionary in 1925 and was also involved in developing youth work in the area. She remained at the school for the rest of her time in China, appointing a Chinese principal, encouraging the Church to take more responsibility from the mission and seeing the school through a difficult period when the Japanese occupied Manchuria.

After Pearl Harbour in December 1941 Maclean was put under house arrest for six months and the school was closed. With other colleagues she was sent to Japan for internment but was returned home as an exchange prisoner before the end of 1942. The Church of Scotland sent her to work in Ghana from 1944 until 1946 when she was able to return to Manchuria and the school. When the communists entered Shenyang in November 1948 her position became more difficult, she suffered from bouts of dysentery and after the school was closed in 1949 she was ordered home. From 1951 until 1954 she worked in Jamaica then returned to Inverness in Scotland. She kept in touch with Fragrant Tree who secured permission to leave China in 1963 and joined Maclean in Scotland. Fragrant Tree looked after Maclean during her final illness and after Maclean's death moved to an old people's home where she died.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers. It is essential to arrange an appointment in advance to view the archive in order that someone can be available to help. Please contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX

Acquisition Information

The papers were presented to the Centre by Mrs I D P McCulloch.

Other Finding Aids

A paper catalogue is available to archive users at the Centre.

Archivist's Note

Description originally written and researched by Caroline Brown in June 2001. This had been added to Archives Hub in August 2012 by Louise Williams.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction of materials (for example by digital camera) is free for private research and educational use, although we ask researchers to sign an agreement. Please contact us for enquiries on using the material in a commercial setting, for which there will be a fee. Contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX.

Accruals

No further additions to this collection are expected.

Personal Names

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Geographical Names