These studies examine writings by Protestant missionaries in China from 1819 to 1890. The initial aim of the missionaries was religious—to bring the Gospel message to a Chinese audience. The social and cultural milieu tempered missionary efforts, however, and the scope of their writings—tracts, translations of scripture, periodicals, and books in Chinese—enlarged to include secular topics and information for the Chinese about the world outside. Simultaneously, Protestant missionaries wrote about China for American readers at home and thus became the strongest link between village China and small-town America.
Nine historians contribute to this composite picture of the missionary pioneers, the literature they produced, the changes they sustained through immersion in Chinese culture, and their efforts to interpret that culture for their constituencies at home.