Papers of John David Hayes

Scope and Content

Copies of material illustrating the life of John David Hayes, compiled by his widow Barbara. The collection includes: biographies of the Hayes family; articles by Barbara Hayes about the life of herself and her husband in China; articles written by John David Hayes; transcripts written by Hayes for his 1951 trial; letters written by Hayes; memorials to Hayes written following his death; and a play by Hayes, The Invincibles.

Administrative / Biographical History

John David Hayes, American Presbyterian missionary in China and Indonesia, was born in 1888 in Shandong Province, China, the son of American missionaries. He was educated at Princeton then won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford, England after which he studied at New College, Edinburgh and Princeton Theological College, graduating from the latter in 1917. He went to China in the same year accompanied by his wife, Barbara (née Kelman) whom he had met at Oxford and had married in 1916.

Hayes was based in Beijing where he was in charge of student Christian work, and, being keen to promote unity, was largely instrumental in the formation of a nation-wide Chinese Student Christian Union. From the mid 1920s he was also involved with language teaching at the College of Chinese Studies in Beijing. He was an active member of many Church, community and mission councils and was particularly involved with organising the mission's response to famine in the surrounding provinces and acting as a spokesman for the mission in its dealings with the authorities after Japanese occupation.

Barbara Hayes did mission work with women and with the children of missionaries as well as raising five children herself. The Hayes were on furlough from 1923-24 and from 1936-37 when Hayes studied in London and at New York and Yale. In 1941 Barbara Hayes and her two youngest children were sent to the Philippines then repatriated to America in 1943. Hayes himself stayed on in China: he was interned in 1943, with his parents, at Weixian compound and was returned to America in September 1945. He worked for a while as assistant pastor in a church in Washington, received his DD degree in 1948 from Wooster College and returned to China in the same year at the invitation of the Church of Christ in China.

The Hayes were assigned to the province of Guizhou in the south-west. In 1949, with the approach of the communists, Barbara Hayes was evacuated to Hong Kong where she worked for 18 months in the Church of Christ in China liaison office. John Hayes remained in Guizhou teaching in a government university and school until he was arrested in 1951 and charged with being a spy. On his release in September 1952 he returned to America and spent the next two years travelling and speaking about his experiences. In 1955 he was appointed to Indonesia where again he worked with students and built up the Christian Normal College at Salatiga. On March 4 1957 he died as a result of injuries received in a car accident. After his death Barbara Hayes travelled throughout America speaking on behalf of the mission until her retirement in 1959 in New York.

Access Information

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 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.

Other Finding Aids

A paper version of this description is available to researchers 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 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.

Custodial History

The collection was assembled by Barbara Hayes in 1973, when she was asked to deposit the papers of her husband with the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, United States.Since Mrs Hayes could find little original material, she created a biographical sketch and added additional material where appropriate.


No further additions to this collection are expected.

Location of Originals

The papers held at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity are copies of those held by the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, United States, and of those held by Yale University, United States, in Divinity Library Special Collections.

Geographical Names