Gilbert and Sallie Reid Collection open for research

We are excited to announce that the Gilbert and Sallie Reid Collection is now open for research! Consisting primarily of photographs, prints, pamphlets, and ephemera, the collection offers an intriguing window into the world of the Reids, an American missionary couple active in China between 1892 and 1927.

About the collection
The Reid collection contains materials amassed by Gilbert and Sallie Reid over a period of roughly three decades. Of special note is a photographic chronicle of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, which the Reids experienced while sequestered for several months within the Legation Quarter of Beijing. Other materials include family portraits of the Reids and photographs of Chinese officials; pamphlets on poverty and working conditions in Shanghai; a Chinese translation of a turn-of-the-century American cookbook; and several annual reports of the Ladies’ International Club of Shanghai.

Visit the Online Archive of California to learn more about the collection and view the finding aid:

About Gilbert and Sallie Reid

As committed liberals and social reformers, the Reids were not typical evangelists. Not long after graduating from Union Theological Seminary and beginning his mission work in China, Gilbert Reid (1857-1927) grew frustrated with the Presbyterian church’s paternalistic and dismissive view of Chinese culture. As a scholar and admirer of China, Reid believed that Christian missionaries should incorporate elements of Chinese culture and tradition into their work, such as the practice of ancestor worship. To promote this syncretic Christianity, Reid created the Mission Among the Higher Classes in China, later renamed the International Institute of China, in 1894. Reid’s stated goal for the Institute was “to promote harmony between Chinese and foreigners, and between Christian and non-Christian Chinese” (see Lian Xi 174). In the subsequent three decades, the historian Lian Xi writes, “Reid was far more successful in achieving his stated aim of promoting harmony and making friends [with Chinese elites] than fulfilling any secret proselytizing dreams he might have had” (174). Under his leadership, the International Institute--which moved from Beijing to Shanghai in 1902, following the upheaval of the Boxer Rebellion--became an influential mediator between Chinese officials and Christian missionaries until his death in 1927. 

We know less about the life of Sallie Reid, but evidence suggests that she took an active role in running the International Institute and advancing various social reform causes in Shanghai. Following her education at the Columbia Female College (South Carolina) and the New England Conservatory of Music, she began missionary work in China in 1892 under the auspices of the Woman’s Board of Foreign Missions. She married Gilbert Reid in 1897 and thereafter played an active role at the International Institute of China and among social reform groups in Shanghai.