|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series: Series 1: Correspondence; and Series 2: Clippings and publications.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains correspondence written by John Horton and Helen Daniels covering the period during which they lived and worked in China, including the final years leading up to the establishment of the People's Republic and the eviction of the missionaries, and John Horton Daniels's internment in the Philippines. This collection also contains clippings and publications related to the Daniels' work in China, as well as the Nanking Massacre of 1937.
Burke Library record group:
Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL6, China
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, MRL 6: John Horton Daniels and Helen (Dunn) Daniels papers, 1919-1959, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL6: Matilda Calder Thurston Papers, 1902 – 1958, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Formerly part of the independent Missionary Research Library (MRL), these records were accessioned by the Burke Library at the time of the MRL's closure in 1976.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Acidic items were photocopied on to acid-free paper, and the fragile originals separated by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. Any items in an advanced state of deterioration were placed in Mylar envelopes. The finding aid was created by Gregory Adam Scott in 2010, reviewed and updated by Brigette C. Kamsler in 2014 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.
2022-02-24 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
John Horton Daniels was born on September 22, 1891 in Minneapolis, MN, the son of Frank Birchard Daniels and Florence Louisa Farrington. He graduated with a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1914 and entered the medical school that fall, but transferred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in 1916, receiving his M.D. in 1918. Helen Dunn was born on May 11 1892 in Minneapolis to Frederic Earle and Harriet Augusta (Lewis) Dunn. She received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1915, and was involved with the YMCA at the University of Wisconsin. She and John Horton were married on August 14, 1919, and later that year went to China as missionaries under the auspices of the Presbyterian General Board of Foreign Missions. The two initially studied at the Language School at the University of Nanking, and John Horton worked as a member of the medical staff of the University Hospital. During the 1927 "Nanking Incident," when troops of the National Revolutionary Army assaulted the warlord armies controlling Nanjing, the couple had to flee to the safety of an American gunboat. They were eventually brought home to Minneapolis where Helen gave birth to their first child, John Horton. The elder John Horton worked at the Student Health Service at the University of Minnesota from 1927 to 1930, after which the family returned to Nanjing. He was appointed head of the University Hospital, while Helen researched a history and guidebook for the city, which was never published. The family was on furlough during the Nanjing Massacre of December 1937, but returned to the city in August 1938 and remained for three years. In January 1941, the growing military threat from Japan prompted most of the family to return to Minneapolis while John Horton remained in Nanjing. In the fall of that year Helen became ill and John Horton intended to return to her, but was en route in Manila when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was interned as a civilian by the Japanese military, and managed to do some work as a physician in the camp. He was eventually released in 1943 as part of a prisoner exchange with the United States. After the end of the war, the couple returned to Nanjing to resume their work, but nearly a decade of conflict had drained the resources of the hospital. After working for one year under the new People's Republic of China, the couple returned home in 1950. John Horton served as director of the Associated Mission Medical Office of the National Council of Churches' Division of Foreign Missions, part of the NCCCUSA. He retired in 1960 and died in Los Angeles in 1974. Helen died in Los Angeles in 1978.