34214 AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN FUZHOU CHINA 1940s PROMOTIONAL FILM “LETTER FROM CHINA”

Letter From China is a short 1940s film produced for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions that documents the work of American missionaries in Foochow (Fuzhou), China. The film shows the various operations in and around Foochow through a “letter to dad” from Reverend E. Walter Smith, as he recounts his first year or so in China. The film opens with Smith writing the letter to his father, then it shows Smith standing on a rural air field as a Douglas DC-3 arrives bringing new missionaries to Fujian Province. Smith and the missionaries travel by boat on the Min River to Foochow (02:05). They climb into bikeshaws, which transport them to the mission compound. They arrive at the mission compound in Foochow (03:50) and pass through the gate of the compound’s walls. Kai Yu Lao, one of the Chinese Christian leaders, enters Smith’s office (05:42). Lao takes Smith on a walk through the city and shows him the remains of an old school (06:35). Children wash clothes and bathe in the Min River. Women wash clothes in a river (07:38). A man milks a cow on the street of the town (07:58). Union Hospital staff run an outdoor clinic (08:44), where they treat patients with tuberculosis, malaria, glaucoma, and syphilis. Smith’s daughter Margaret plays outside with the mission’s cook’s two children (10:20). The film features shots of Foochow, including a number of the city’s pagodas (11:10). Children play and dance on the lawn of the Union Kindergarten Training School (11:55). Students walk out of Foochow College (12:38); boys work with wood in a shop at the school. Girls walk out of a girls’ school—Wen Zhong Girls School—and go to their outdoor English class (13:30). Some of the girls play basketball. The school’s choir walks to practice in full dress. The Smith family eats a traditional Chinese dinner with chopsticks. A panoramic shot shows agriculture fields and Union High School a few miles outside of Foochow (16:32). A missionary teaches an animal husbandry class and shows students a rabbit coup (17:10). Chinese men work in the school’s gardens, learning farming techniques. Several men build furniture out of wood. A group from the school goes to a nearby farm to demonstrate spraying insecticide on fruit trees (19:12). Next, viewers see Fukien Christian University sitting on a mountainside looking out over the Min River (20:10). Smith meets with a group of university students outside one of the buildings. Missionary children make crafts in a small classroom (21:40). Smith’s wife goes over the mission’s accounting with the cook, who uses an abacus to tally the sums. Smith visits Union Hospital (24:00); inside, Smith meets with a man diagnosed with tuberculosis. They look at an x-ray of the man’s chest. A doctor opens a just-arrived package from the U.S. containing Streptomycin (25:35). Smith has tea with an elderly man, Pastor Wong, who leads the mission’s church (26:00). Smith visits students at Union Theological Seminary (26:26). The film features shots of some of Foochow’s poor children—begging in the street, being vaccinated, or eating a soup kitchen—as well as footage of people excavating a site for a new school (28:38). The film concludes with a montage of shots of the people of Foochow.

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