Emma DeLong Mills papers
Scope and Content
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.
Language of Materials Note
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))
Custodial History Note
Alternative Forms of Material
- Emma DeLong Mills papers, 1888-2007: a guide.
- Language of description
- Script of description