A native of Wisconsin, Elsie Reik (1893-1985) joined missionary service in 1922 and was sent to Foochow (Fuzhou) in southeastern China. She worked at the mission school as an educator of female students. Her movements during World War II are unknown. Reik was in Fuzhou in 1949 when the communists came to political power in China. This prompted Reik's return to the United States in 1950.
The Elsie Reik Letters from Foochow (Fuzhou) China collection consists of outgoing correspondence from Reik, primarily to her family in the United States. They are an unusual collection when set against similar collections on missionary women overseas. They constitute one of the more extensive assemblages of letters written by an overseas missionary; yet, their content is often rather slim and inconsistent. Reik maintained solid ties with her family and friends in the United States. Her letters are filled with reports on other family members and requests for updates. Consequently, many of the letters contain less information on the mission, missionary work, or Chinese political, social, and cultural life than other collections offer. Moreover, there is a significant gap in these voluminous letters from 1934 to 1949.
Despite these shortcomings, the Reik collection does offer some insights on missionary work and on life in Foochow (Fuzhou). She was upset by Chinese marriage traditions that obligated some of her former students to marry non-Christian men. Reik lauded the seeming advances that missionary education provided to female converts and she offered observations on the paradox of the second generation of women students (born into Christian households). Reik said they did not appreciate the struggles that their parents generation had endured--something that opened more options to them. Yet, Reik found these young women to be more ambitious; many of them continued on to universities in China and beyond. The last letters in the Reik collection offer glimpses of the upheaval that communist successes caused in the missionary community in Fuzhou, disturbances that caused Reik to leave China.
For more information on missionary women who resided in China during the same period as Reik, see the Myra Snow Correspondence (A 186), the Myra Anna Jaquet Papers (A 180), and the Elizabeth Wright Papers (A 301); all of these women lived in Tientsin (Tianjin); or the Edith Simister Letters from China (A183) who also lived in Foochow (Fuzhou); or the Clara Dyer Letters from Ch'iangli, China Collection (A 198), who lived in Ch'iangli. All of these collections are housed in Special Collections & University Archives, at the University of Oregon Libraries.
Alternative Forms Available :
Available in microfilm as part of: Women's lives. Series 3, American women missionaries and pioneers collection (MICROFILM BV3703 .W66 2006, reel 51); Primary Source Microfilm, 12 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525.Restrictions on Access :
Collection is open to the public.
Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.Restrictions on Use :
Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Archival may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.
Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.
If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.Preferred Citation :
[Identification of item], Elsie I. Reik papers, A 166, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.
Detailed Description of the Collection