Papers of Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell, and his son Dr James Preston Maxwell

Scope and Content

Personal and professional papers of Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell (1836-1921) and his son Dr. James Preston Maxwell (d c 1960) relating to medical missionary work in China and Taiwan from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. Includes correspondence of Mary Maxwell (nee Goodall, wife of James Laidlaw Maxwell), Lilly Maxwell (nee Isaacson, wife of James Preston Maxwell), and various personal and professional acquaintances; reports, printed materials, journal notes, photographs, albums and miscellanea.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Laidlaw Maxwell senior was born in Scotland in 1836. He studied medicine and took his degree in Scotland. He worked in London at Brompton Hospital and in Birmingham at Birmingham General Hospital. He was also an Elder in the Broad Street Presbyterian Church. He later became the pioneer medical missionary for the English Presbyterian Missionary Society, working in China on the Island of Formosa. He retired to London where he formed and became the first secretary of the Medical Missionary Association. He married Mary Anne Goodall (d. January 1918) of Handsworth on 7th April, 1868 in Hong Kong. Maxwell died in March, 1921. He had two sons, James Preston Maxwell and James Laidlaw Maxwell Jr., both of whom also became medical missionaries. James Preston Maxwell (d. circa 1960-1961) worked in China at Yungchun Hospital, Fukien, 1899-1919, and Changpoo, Amoy. He was Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Peking Union Medical College, circa 1920-circa 1940. He married (Edith ) Lilly Isaacson December 1899. She died 14th October, 1954. They had one child, Marjorie (Steen, ne Marjorie Gordon Maxwell), b 1908.

Reference: University of Birmingham, Online Archive Catalogue ( ). Accessed April 2002.


Correspondence is arranged by correspondent, thereunder chronologically.

Access Information

Open. Access to all bona fide researchers. All papers held at the Orchard Learning Resources Centre will be viewed at the Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department. Please contact the University Archivist for further information.

Acquisition Information

The Maxwell papers were presented as a gift to the Selly Oak Colleges Central Library (later forming part of the Orchard Learning Resources Centre) by the daughter of James Preston Maxwell, in 1982.

Other Finding Aids

Please see online catalogue for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

Following the merger of the Selly Oak Colleges and the University of Birmingham in 1999 the custodial ownership of collections belonging to the Selly Oak Colleges and held at the Orchard Learning and Resource Centre (OLRC) was transferred to the University. These collections now form part of the University's Special Collections Department and are available for consultation at the Main Library on the University's Edgbaston Campus.

Related Material

The collection includes approximately 380 printed books and pamphlets, mostly written in Chinese, and approximately 50 sheets of music, which will be catalogued separately.

Associated material may be found at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in the Presbyterian Church of England (now The United Reformed Church ) Foreign Missions Committee archives. The Orchard Learning Resources Centre and the University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department holds a rich collection of archives relating to missions, charities and other religious and ecclesiastical organisations and individuals.