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RG 30/418 - Hamlin, Frances J. Cade & E. John (1912-2006) (1915-2010)
Scope and Content

The papers, photographs, and objects originating with Frances J. Cade and E. John Hamlin reflect the lives of two Oberlin graduates who met during their service in China as Shansi representatives in the mid-1930s, and continued after their marriage in 1942 to pursue a lifetime of service in the Far East. Both the Hamlins wrote articles for their hometown newspapers during their time at Taigu, and gave presentations on their experiences later in life as employees of the World Council of Churches. Their report letters back to OSMA in Oberlin are of interest for their candid observations of societal changes and political instability during the early Communist era in China. John Hamlin was a particularly gifted photographer in the journalistic sense; his photographs are some of the most vivid documentary evidence of China in the mid-1930s taken by Shansi representatives. Frances Cade Hamlin assembled a remarkable coin and charm collection spanning the ancient era in China, and collected paper bills and coins that reflect the shifting political terrain in Europe, China, Japan and Manchuria in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Several of the photographs and paper bills in the Hamlin Collection were digitized and appear in the ďShansi: Oberlin and AsiaĒ digital collection online at http://www.oberlin.edu/library/digital/shansi/index.html.

Series Descriptions

Series 1. Correspondence, 1948, 1982, 1986, 1989, 1994, 2006 (Series 1-5: 0.4 l.f.)

Correspondence from Frances Hamlin to her parents with accompanying skit script, 1948, sent from China; various letters to the Hamlins received from former students in China in the 1980s and 1994, and Johnís email correspondence with OSMA personnel regarding Francesís death in 2006.

Series 2. Report Letters to OSMA and Others, 1934-37

This series contains John and Francesís report letters to OSMA during their representative years in China from 1934-37.

Series 3. Speeches and Talks, 1934-37, 1983-84, 1986, 1988, n.d.

Consists of notes from talks at Station meetings in Taigu during John and Francesís years as Shansi representatives in China, and talk outlines or scripts for presentations given by the Hamlins in the 1980s for various groups or conferences.

Series 4. Newspaper Writings, 1934-37, ca. 1946

Original typescripts and copies of published articles in the local newspapers of John and Francesís hometowns about their experiences in China as Shansi representatives and teachers.

Series 5. Miscellaneous, 1934-37, 1976, 1984-86, 1988, 1992-93, 2006, 2010, n.d.

Comprises a file of Chinese student compositions collected by Frances Cade, a hand-made illustrated booklet, OSMA printed matter, World Council of Churches publications, and lists of OSMA representatives and personnel prepared for a China Celebration, n.d. Also includes a file of materials relating to Frances Hamlin's death, 2006, and a World Council of Churches commemorative newsletter issue for John Hamlin, 2010.

Series 6. Photographs, 1935-37, 1982, 2006, n.d. (1.66 l.f.)

Consists of loose photographs by John Hamlin taken in China in 1935-37, albums of similar photographs arranged by Frances Cade with notes by John Hamlin written in 2006, and mounted photographs on colored paper of a 1982 trip to China by the Hamlins, for exhibition at the OSMA centennial celebration in 2008.

Series 7. Mixed Media, 1982 (0.54 l.f.)

Comprises nine small photograph albums and an accompanying voice diary on six cassette tapes of the Hamlinís trip to China in 1982. Additional photographs from this trip can be found in Series 6.

Series 8. Films, 1938, 1942 (0.87 l.f.)

Two reels of 16mm black and white silent film by John Hamlin. Footage of the Oberlin Graduate School of Theologyís faculty and students, 1938, and footage of Frances and John Hamlinís wedding, July 1942. Several reels of footage taken in China between 1934 and 1937 by John Hamlin (not all have been positively identified) can be found in the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association records, RG. 15, Subgroup VII, Series 5. At least two of Hamlinís films were transferred as digital files to DVD for public access. See the ďShansi: Oberlin and AsiaĒ digital collection (2012) at http://www.oberlin.edu/library/digital/shansi/index.html.

Series 9. Coin and Currency Collection, Ancient period and late 19th and early 20th Centuries (0.91 l.f.)

France Cade Hamlinís collection of ancient Chinese coins and charms, as well as currencies from Asia and Europe from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Included is a small, handwritten guide to some of the ancient coins.


Hamlin collection items were received in two accessions in 1982 and 2008. The 1982 accession was a lot of nine cartons of OSMA records, from which Hamlin materials were separated in 2012. In 2008, OSMAís centennial year, many current and former representatives and scholars donated a total of 20 cartons of materials relating to Shansiís history. From these, John Hamlinís donations were separated and combined with the Hamlin material from the 1982 deposit. These include Frances Hamlinís coin and currency collection and the Hamlinís photographic albums and voice diary on cassette tapes documenting their trip to China in 1982.

Related Materials

Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association Records, RG 15.

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