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Emma DeLong Mills papers

Identifier: MSS-002

Scope and Content

This collection documents the personal, educational, and professional life and activities of Emma DeLong Mills, Wellesley College, class of 1917, dating from 1884 to 2007.

Materials in the collection cover Mills' youth and education at St. Agatha School (NY), Wellesley College (BA), the Army School of Nursing (MD), and Columbia University (NY). Mills' school experiences, travels, and post-graduate work are documented through extensive personal correspondence with family members, friends, and associates, as well as extensive journals. Most notable is Mills' correspondence with May-ling Soong Chiang, a classmate at Wellesley College.

Also documented in the collection is Mills' Chinese activism and philanthropy work at the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (ABMAC), The True Light Foundation, and the Chinatown Planning Council, among other organizations. Materials include correspondence, articles, pamphlets, clippings, brochures, publications, and reports. Primary sources from the Chinese Activism and Philanthropy portion of the collection include publications, clippings, correspondence, minutes, press releases, and reports.

The collection includes letters, articles, pamphlets, clippings, brochures, reports, catalogs, post cards, maps, meeting minutes, publications, press releases, photographs, manuscripts, a casette tape, and journals.


  • 1888-2007

Language of Materials Note

The materials are primarily written and printed in English. Some additional Chinese materials included.




Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

Emma DeLong Mills was an American philanthropist and activist for the Chinese Nationalist cause. She was born on September 16, 1894, in Stamford, Connecticut, to Dr. Walter Sands Mills and Sylvie (DeLong) Mills. She attended St. Agatha School in New York City before traveling to Massachusetts to attend Wellesley College. At Wellesley, Mills became friends with May-ling Soong, who would later become Madame Chiang Kai-shek, fourth wife of the Generalissimo.

After graduating from Wellesley College in 1917, Mills worked as a "farmerette" in Kinderhook, New York, as one of a group of women helping to maintain agricultural efforts in the United States while many farmers were overseas during World War I. She then attended the Army School of Nursing at Camp Meade, Maryland, and was commissioned as a student nurse in December, 1919. Mills would attend Columbia University intermittently for the next two and a half decades, including a period in the mid-1940s where she completed an intensive sub-professional engineering course and then worked on the Manhattan Project.

In 1922, Mills traveled to China where she taught English at the North China Language School and worked on the Shanghai Gazette. She was offered a job tutoring the young woman who was to marry the brother of Pu Yi, China's last emperor, which she accepted. Mills returned to the United States in 1925. After her mother passed away, and she stayed with her grandmother, Emma Wotton DeLong, widow of the famous arctic explorer George Washington DeLong. In the following decades, Mills corresponded heavily with friends and family, including May-ling Soong and a young Carson McCullers, whom she met at a writing class in the 1930s.

In 1937, Mills began her work with the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (later the American Bureau for Medical Advancement in China), or ABMAC. She would eventually serve as the Executive Secretary, making a trip to Taiwan on behalf of the association in 1950. After World War II, Mills worked tirelessly with the True Light Foundation, which supported the True Light Middle School of Hong Kong. She helped to found the Chinatown Planning Council (CPC), a non-profit organization providing educational, social, and occupational services and assistance to the Chinese community in New York City. She served on the CPC executive board for over two decades. She was elected president of the CPC in 1968, the only person of western descent to have been so appointed. Mills was rewarded for her indefatigable work on behalf of China and Chinese Nationalist causes, as a recipient of a Medal of Honor from the Chinese National government.

Mills wrote prolifically, whether publicly or privately, throughout her life. Her journals bridge the entirety of her lifespan, as do her collections of correspondence. She had several articles and letters to editors published during her lifetime as well. Emma DeLong Mills died on August 26, 1987, at the Southport Manor Convalescent Hospital in Connecticut, at the age of 92.


12 Linear Feet ( (10 file boxes, 7 oversize boxes))


This collection documents the personal, educational, and professional life and activities of Emma DeLong Mills (1894-1987). Mills was an American philanthropist and activist for the Chinese Nationalist cause, and a close personal friend of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, both members Wellesley College, class of 1917. Materials include letters, articles, pamphlets, clippings, brochures, reports, catalogs, post cards, maps, meeting minutes, publications, press releases, photographs, manscripts, a cassette tape, and journal volumes.


This collection is arranged into seven series: I. General/Biographical, II. Education, III. Correspondence, IV. Chinese Activism and Philanthropy, V. Mayling Soong Chiang Correspondence, VI. Other Projects, and VII. Writings and Journals. Some series are further subdivided into subseries based on format or content. Correspondence and journal volumes are ordered chronologically.

Custodial History Note

Thomas A. DeLong, conservator of the estate, maintained custody of the materials from the death of Emma DeLong Mills in 1987 to the time of their donation to the Wellesley College Archives.

Acquisition Information

Bequeathed by Emma DeLong Mills, 1987-1988, and donated by Thomas A. DeLong, 2010-2011.

Alternative Forms of Material

Some materials from this collection have been microfilmed and are available for viewing at the Wellesley College Archives.

Related Materials

Additional archival material may be found in Mills' biographical file, the Records of the President's Office, Records of the Class of 1917, and Records of the Publicity Office. The class of 1917 Legenda (yearbook) is available online:

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sarah J. Wetherbee under the supervision of Jane Callahan, Fall 2011. A finding aid for the Papers of Emma DeLong Mills, comprising accessions A87-026 and A88-058 (2.8 linear feet of the collection), was written by Wilma R. Slaight.
Emma DeLong Mills papers, 1888-2007: a guide.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository