Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Christian evangelistic and religious education posters and Christian scrolls and Bible verses, 1930-1949

Summary Information


Posters and scrolls produced as visual aids to education and proselytization by Protestant missionaries working in China. Most scrolls include Chinese text and use images specifically designed for the Chinese mission field.

At a Glance

Bib ID 4492575 View CLIO record
Title Christian evangelistic and religious education posters and Christian scrolls and Bible verses, 1930-1949
Physical Description 8 boxes (8 boxes)
Language(s) Chinese .
Additional Description http://library.columbia.edu/content/dam/libraryweb/locations/burke/fa/mrl/ldpd_4492575.pdf



The collection is not arranged in any particular manner. The entire collection has been digitally photographed and the images recorded on to CDRs with metadata. As the original posters are fragile, patrons are requested to consult the digital images of the posters, using the metadata sheet as a guide. The collection is unrestricted to readers. All posters, however, are in a fragile condition, and this necessitates restriction in handling. Please consult the CDs of digital copies in Series 2 Box 1. Series 1: Christian Evangelistic and Religious Educational Posters, [1930?-1949?]; Series 2: Christian Scrolls and Bible Verses , [1930?-1949?]


Scope and Content

Originally comprised of two separate collections, in June 2010 they were processed together as they contain very similar types of material. To preserve their archival integrity, however, their distinct identities have been maintained , and they appear as Series 1 and 2 of this Finding Aid.

Nearly all the items in this collection attempt to convey a specific message to the viewer, whether it is connected to the war effort, religious teachings, proper morality and behavior, or the lyrics and music of a song. Some images were copied directly from European models, but most feature Chinese figures, scenes and text, the messages having been tailored to a Chinese audience. The posters in Series 1, boxes 4-6 appear to have been intended for use as part of Sunday school education, while those in Series 2 were specifically directed toward children. Overall the items in this collection offer a window into the visual depiction of Christian teachings and Western culture in China, something that reflects the input of both Western missionary and Chinese converts regarding how this intercultural communication ought to take place.

General Note

Part of Missionary Research Library Collection : East Asia/China

In Archives.

Using the Collection

Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Preferred Citation

Item description, MRL 6 : Christian Evangelistic and Educational Posters; Christian Scrolls and Bible Verses, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library Archives, Columbia University Libraries at Union Theological Seminary, New York.

Immediate Source of Acquisition


About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Processing Information

Posters Cataloged Lynn A. Grove 07/19/88.

Revision Description

May 27, 2014 XML Instance Created by Sarah Davis.

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:"
Posters Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
China -- Religious life and customs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Christian education -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Christians -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Evangelistic work -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


Printing and publishing were important aspects of the Christian mission to China from its earliest days. With the advent of modern printing technologies, however, missions gained the ability to produce large - format poster s and scrolls in large numbers and at low cost. These printed images were an important tool in the missionaries' programs of proselytization and education. Several institutions, groups and organizations contributed to the production of large - format printed images in China in the early twentieth - century, many of them also publishing pamphlets, tracts and books.

Founded in 1877 as the Society for the Diffusion of Christian and General Knowledge among the Chinese, in 1906 the society changed its name to the Christian Literature Society for China 廣學會. Based in Shanghai, it was instrumental in publishing works on Western science and religion in Chinese, and cooperated with other organizations such as the American Presbyterian Mission Press 美華書館. The society was responsible for publishing most of the posters in Series 1 in cooperation with Jinling Seminary 金陵神學院 . Also known as Nanjing Theological Seminary, this school was founded in 1907 by the Presbyterian Church in the United States and the PCUSA. It later gained the support of the Disciples of Christ, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the MEC, South. In 1952 it was reformed into the Jinling Union Theological Seminary, and continues to be active today.

The Religious Tract Society for China 基督聖教書會 was established in 1921 through the merger of the Religious Tract Society for North and Central China, and the Chinese Tract Society. It was supported by British, Canadian and American Tract societies, and in its first year of combined operation had a reported circulation of more than two and a half million. The society published many of the posters in Series 1, and all of the items in Series 2. One year after the society's founding in 1922, the National Christian Council of China 中華全國基督教協進會 was established as a non-denominational consultative body for Protestant mission organizations in China. It is cited as having been involved in producing some of the posters in Series 1.

Two American artists are represented in the collection through their work for the United China Relief organization. James Montgomery Flagg 裴雷葛, 1877-1960, was an artist and illustrator, perhaps best-known for his depiction of Uncle Sam in an American recruitment poster from the First World War Martha Sawyers, 1902-1988, was famous for her illustrations of foreign peoples and places, and produced a number of illustrations for posters and advertisements featuring Chinese figures.