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Educating the Women of Hainan

Educating the Women of Hainan: The Career of Margaret Moninger in China, 1915-1942

Kathleen L. Lodwick
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Educating the Women of Hainan
    Book Description:

    For Margaret Moninger -- a brilliant, fun-loving, and dedicated young woman from Iowa -- a career as a missionary in China promised adventure and the chance for responsibility and authority denied most American women of her time. In 1915 she went as a Presbyterian missionary to Hainan Island, China's southernmost territory, where she remained until repatriated in 1942.

    During her years in Hainan, Moninger played many roles: she headed a girls' mission school, wrote scholarly articles on the Miao aborigines, collected botanical specimens for scientists at home, and served as mission treasurer. She was responsible for communications with American diplomatic personnel and was one of only six women appointed to the Presbyterian China Council, which set mission policies for all of China.

    Kathleen Lodwick's biography, the first devoted to a single woman missionary, is based primarily on the long, newsy letters Moninger wrote her family every Sunday of her missionary years, and on those of a fellow missionary. It will be of interest to scholars in Asian studies, religious studies, and anthropology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6174-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    David D. Buck

    As a historian, Kathleen L. Lodwick, it seems, was inevitably drawn into the huge trove of Mary Margaret Moninger’s letters once she discovered their order and clarity in the Presbyterian Mission archives. Miss Moninger’s letters record in measured weekly installments her twenty-three years as a missionary on Hainan Island. These letters were written in an open, balanced schoolmarm’s hand with a favorite Waterman pen on Sunday afternoons and posted by long stages, overland and overseas, in order to present to her family a seemingly casual, but carefully crafted, portrait of her life as a teacher, a missionary, and a member...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xv)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Educating the Women of Hainanis the story of Margaret Moninger, an American woman who spent nearly half her life in China in the early years of the twentieth century.BrilliantandGeniuswere the words her colleagues used to describe her. The family that produced her was far from typical. Eldest child of a genteel Iowa farm family, her parents were both college graduates and her four grandparents had pioneered in the state. In China in the 1930s, her colleague Esther Morse, M.D., termed Margaretbourgeoisin her attitudes. Indeed, that was her background. Not many farmers would spend...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Joining the Hainan Mission, 1915
    (pp. 13-45)

    Circus elephants were unloading at the Marshalltown, Iowa, train station on 22 July 1915, distracting eight-year-old Jack Moninger as his family gathered on the platform to see their eldest daughter, Margaret, off to China and to her new life as a Presbyterian missionary. Travel was one of the exciting elements of the life of a missionary. Before making the decision to go to China, Margaret had never been farther from home than Des Moines, where she had attended the state fair. Once her decision was made, she traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, to a convention of the Student Volunteer Movement...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Young Missionary, 1916–1921
    (pp. 46-94)

    After completing her first year in Hainan, Margaret could no longer be considered a newcomer. She had acquired enough fluency in the language to carry on simple conversations and had become versed in the work of the mission. Hainan was still an exotic place to her, but it was increasingly becoming her home.

    During the next five years, up to the time of her first furlough, Margaret gradually assumed more responsibility within the mission, first serving as principal of the girls’ schools in Kachek and then in Kiungchow replacing older missionaries who went home on furloughs. She served as editor...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Turmoil and Flight, 1922–1927
    (pp. 95-137)

    Violence marked Margaret’s second term in Hainan, culminating in the murder of the Reverend George D. Byers at Kachek in 1924. Unrest, so widespread in China in the 1920s, reached the island as various factions competed for control, as in the absence of a strong central government, no one exercised real authority on Hainan. Brigandage plagued the island, and in turn one after another of the missionaries fell victim to bandits or to mobs who ransacked mission property. Death also came to the mission in the form of a sawmill accident that took the life of the Reverend William Stinson....

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. CHAPTER FOUR Come Rejoicing, 1928–1935
    (pp. 138-169)

    Margaret originally planned to use her second furlough to work on a doctorate at Grinnell College.¹ After arriving home, however, she decided to accept a position teaching Latin and mathematics at the high school in Washington, Iowa, in part because of the financial difficulties the Board of Foreign Missions was facing.² While employed as a teacher, Margaret was placed on the rolls of furloughed missionaries by the Board, yet she found that the Board continued to rely on her for various tasks.

    In February 1928, for example, Board members found themselves preparing for the annual General Assembly of the Presbyterian...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Warfare, 1936–1942
    (pp. 170-210)

    Margaret spent most of her third furlough traveling to churches to give talks about her mission work. Shortly after she returned to Hainan, World War II began in China. The Japanese bombed Hainan in 1937, occupied it in 1939, and placed the missionaries under house arrest in July 1941. But these events were in the future when Margaret returned to the island in 1936 and took up her post as head of the Pitkin School in Kiungchow. With the others at the school, she would flee to the relative safety of the inland town of Nodoa in 1937. During these...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 211-217)

    When Margaret arrived home that summer day in 1942, her life changed as drastically as it had the summer day in 1915 when she first departed for China. Her father, to whose home she returned, had given up the family farm and moved to Marshalltown shortly after his wife died in 1928. Margaret had been to the house in town on her furlough in 1935, but now it would be her home. Her youngest sister, Louise, also lived there, acting as housekeeper for their Margaret celebrated her fifty-first birthday a month after her return. She would live another seven and...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 218-243)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 244-246)
  16. Index
    (pp. 247-255)