Rare Book & Manuscript Library

William Henry Donald letters, 1924-1946

Summary Information


The William Henry Donald letters primarily consist of correspondence between William Henry Donald (1875- 1946) and his friend, Harold K. Hochschild (1892-1981) where he described about his work in China, his involvement in the Xi'an Incident, and his life later in the Pacific Islands and return to China. Other materials in the collection include biographical information, a sketch of Donald, and news clippings about Donald.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0353
Bib ID 4078704 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Donald, William Henry, 1875-1946
Title William Henry Donald letters, 1924-1946
Physical Description 0.25 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



Arranged chronologically.



The William Henry Donald letters consist of correspondence primarily between William Henry Donald (1875- 1946) and Harold K. Hochschild (1892-1981), Donald's long-time friend with personal and business interest in China who was also the Executive of the American Metal Company in New York, dating from 1924 to 1946. Other correspondent also include Li, Kuo Ching, a Chinese businessman in New York City, Gertrude Sergievsky, and Herbert Berridge Elliston. The correspondence in the collection focuses on Donald's experience and his knowledge of Chinese politics as well as his personal relations to prominent Chinese Republican officials during his life in China. The highlight of Donald's letters is the one which he wrote on January 17th, 1937, where he described his role as a mediator during the Xi'an Incident (西安事變). The papers also include a drawing of Donald and other biographical materials and news clippings about Donald's death as well as his role in Chinese politics during the Chinese Republican era.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William Henry Donald letters; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Material

Lewis, Winston George. (1872). Winston George Lewis - Papers, 1887-1996, concerning W. H. Donald, Together with Papers of the Donald Family, Ca. 1872-1978. MLMSS 7594. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. Finding aid

William Henry Donald papers, 1945-1946. Forms part of: Miscellaneous Manuscripts collection. Library of Congress Manuscript Division. Finding aid

Alternate Form Available

The entire collection is on microfilm.

Ownership and Custodial History

Estate of Harold K. Hochschild via East Asian Institute, 1982.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Hochschild, Harold K. Estate via East Asian Institute. Accession number--M-82.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 06/--/1989. Finding aid revised in July 2018 by Yingwen Huang.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2018-09-14 EAD finding aid was updated.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Drawings (visual works) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Letters (correspondence) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Obituaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American Metal Company Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chiang, Kai-shek, 1887-1975 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chiang, May-ling Soong, 1897-2003 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- Description and travel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- Foreign relations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- History -- 1928-1937 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- History -- Warlord period, 1916-1928 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- History -- Xi'an Incident, 1936 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- History, Military Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- Politics and government -- 1912-1949 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
China -- Politics and government -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hochschild, Harold K., 1892-1981 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalism -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Li, Guoqing, 1916- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manchuria (China) -- Description and travel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manila (Philippines) -- Description and travel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Prisoners of war -- Japan Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Selle, Earl Albert Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Shanghai (China) -- Description and travel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zhang, Xueliang, 1901-2001 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zhang, Zuolin, 1875-1928 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zhili Sheng (China) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

William Henry Donald (also known as Duan'na, 端纳) was born in Lithgow, Australia, 1875. Mr. Donald went to Hong Kong in 1903 as a journalist for the Hong Kong Daily and China Mail (德臣報). He soon became the Managing Editor of China Mail and covered mainly events in China. He later also became an editor at the Far Eastern Review based in Shanghai where he reportedly exposed Japan's Twenty-One Demands on China to the western presses. In 1920, he resigned from the Far Eastern Review and began working at the new Bureau of Economic Information in Beijing. He associated closely with Sun Yat-sen and the Soong family. He was the adviser to the Young Marshal, Zhang, Xueliang. During the Xi'an Incident in 1936, Madame Chiang sent Donald as a mediator to negotiate for Chiang Kai-shek's release. Donald successfully convinced the Young Marshal to release Chiang. He later became an advisor to Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang. Donald left China in 1940 and toured the Pacific Islands. Subsequent to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was arrested in Manila by the Japanese army and held at the internment camp in 1941. He was release three years later along with over 2,000 POWs and civilian prisoners during the U.S. Raid on Los Banos. He briefly visited New York City in 1945 after his release. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1946. He returned to Shanghai where he was treated at the Country Hospital (華東醫院) and died on November 9th, 1946.