Tag Archives: Luce Foundation

Henry R. Luce Makes an Appearance


Credit to: MRL5: United Board for Christian Colleges in China Records, box 1, folder 2,
The Burke Library Archives (Columbia University Libraries) at Union Theological Seminary, New York.

If you recall from an earlier post detailing the relationship between the Burke Library and the Henry Luce Foundation, the press release which announced the funding included the following statement:

We are delighted that the Luce Foundation can play a part in The Burke Library's preservation of these important collections, so that they can be readily accessible to a wider readership," said Michael Gilligan, president of the Henry Luce Foundation. "Although these collections are distinct from our own archives, they are clearly linked to two parts of our history—Henry R. Luce's intention to honor his parents, Presbyterian missionary educators in China; and the foundation's early support for Christian ecumenism.

Henry Winters Luce and his wife, Elizabeth Root Luce, were Presbyterian missionaries in China during the early part of the twentieth century. Their children – Henry, Emmavail, Elizabeth and Sheldon – were all born in China. According to the Luce Foundation Website, "Luce made his first major gift in 1935, an endowment at Yenching University in Peking to honor his father’s work, and he intended his foundation as a lasting tribute to his parents…"

I always keep a special eye out for the Luce name, and I have found material where Henry Winters Luce had an association, or was perhaps a member of an organization or board.

Today I was excited to come across THE man himself, Henry Robinson Luce, in a new collection.

MRL5: East Asia, United Board for Christian Colleges in China (UBCCC) Records, 1931-1959 was the collection. The UBCCC was established to support and coordinate the activities of Protestant colleges and universities in China. It would later focus efforts more broadly across Asia and change the name to the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. The collection includes annual reports and supporting information such as correspondence and budgets relating to overall activities.

Among the annual reports are lists of members who attended the meeting, as well as full lists of those who were on specific committees. Henry R. Luce appears to have been an active member of UBCCC, attending not only the annual meetings but serving on multiple subcommittees.

A great find indeed for this dreary Tuesday.

Luce + Archives

While processing the materials in MRL and WAB, we try to keep a special eye out for any collection which includes materials related to Henry Winters Luce. Henry W. Luce and his wife Elizabeth Root Luce were Presbyterian missionaries and educators in China during the early party of the twentieth century. Henry R. Luce, who started magazines such as Life and Time, created the Luce Foundation to honor his parents' legacy.

One such collection which we have that shows Henry Winters Luce activities is in MRL12: Eastern Fellowship of Professors of Missions Records, 1932-1965. HW Luce was secretary of this organization.


Credit to MRL 12: Eastern Fellowship of Professors of Missions Records, box 1, folder 8, The Burke Library Archives (Columbia University Libraries) at Union Theological Seminary, New York.

The Teachers of Missions Group was established to promote the fellowship, spiritual life and professional usefulness of its members through papers, discussion, prayer and social intercourse. Membership consisted of people in New England and the Mid-Atlantic area. The earliest records in this collection, recorded by secretary Henry Winters Luce, date from 1932; however the group began to meet informally in 1917. Early discussions included those on Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry; interacting with International Missionary Council; and the discussion of training missionaries.


Minutes of the Meeting of the Teachers of Missions at Princeton Seminary, October 29, 1932.
Credit to MRL 12: Eastern Fellowship of Professors of Missions Records, box 1, folder 8, The Burke Library Archives (Columbia University Libraries) at Union Theological Seminary, New York.

The constitution was officially adopted April 1940 and stated their name as “The Fellowship of Professors of Missions.” Regular meetings were held twice per year with annual dues set at fifty cents. By 1954, the updated constitution changed the name to “The Association of Professors of Missions.” Membership was opened to professors of missions in the member institutions of the American Association of Theological Schools and by invitation. The meetings were also changed to once every two years.

In 1964, the name again changed to “The Eastern Fellowship of Professors of Missions” to show its region, as the group was a faction of the national Association of Professors of Missions. The national group became closely allied with the American Association of Missiology beginning in 1972. Both the Association of Professors of Missions and the American Association of Missiology are still in existence today.

We were excited to see Henry W. Luce and Henry R. Luce mentioned in the Foreign Missions Conference of North America collection, which is currently being processed. We will have more to share with Luce + Archives in the near future.

Aided by the Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation is generously supporting the Burke Library Archives processing grant. As quoted on the press release:

"We are delighted that the Luce Foundation can play a part in The Burke Library's preservation of these important collections, so that they can be readily accessible to a wider readership," said Michael Gilligan, president of the Henry Luce Foundation. "Although these collections are distinct from our own archives, they are clearly linked to two parts of our history—Henry R. Luce's intention to honor his parents, Presbyterian missionary educators in China; and the foundation's early support for Christian ecumenism."

The Henry Luce Foundation is dedicated to encouraging the development of religious leaders through theological education, and fostering scholarship that links the academy to religious communities and other audiences.

The Missionary Research Library Archives include a number of materials that involve Luce. Among European and North American libraries and archives, only MRL at Burke holds the 10pg. ecumenical document that was authored and utilized by Henry Winters Luce in 1910 for "cooperative survey of theological and bible training schools in China." MRL offers the only copy of "Minutes, Constitution, and Reports" of the Christian Educational Association of Shantung and Honan Provinces from 1917, which was the final year of H.W. Luce's professorship at Shantung Christian University. Luce was also the traveling secretary of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions from 1894-1895 and 1896-1897, which occurred after his two years at Union Theological Seminary.

These three examples from the life of Henry Winters Luce illustrate the unique cultural depth, geographic breadth, and historical importance of the missionary and ecumenical archives at the Burke Library. This project will allow for the provision of intellectual and physical access to two of the largest and most significant archival collections of ecumenical and missionary papers currently in existence.