Mary Margaret Moninger was born near Marshalltown, Iowa on September 23, 1892 to two farmers, William Ringland Moninger and Mary Helen Kellogg. Moninger graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Grinnell College in 1913. She received her M.A. from Grinnell in 1922. She was a teacher for two years in New Providence, Iowa until leaving for Hainan, China in 1915 as a member of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. Her regular duties as a missionary were teaching and acting as a principal at several girls’ schools throughout the island of Hainan. She served as secretary, treasurer and agent of her missionary organization.
Moninger was a prolific writer with an keen eye for the unique culture of Hainan. She compiled an immense, unpublished dictionary of the Hainese colloquial dialect. She also penned a mission publication, The Isle of Palms: Sketches of Hainan, in 1919. Moninger wrote several casual articles for religious publications, and newspapers in the United States. She also wrote anthropological essays for the benefit of scientific organizations. She edited her community’s publication, the Hainan Newsletter. According to her biographer, Kathleen Lodwick, Moninger also was interested in botany and her Hainese specimens can today be found at Harvard, Iowa State University, and the national arboretum of the Philippines.
During Moninger's stay in China, the country experienced periods of civil unrest. She witnessed the military actions of the Nationalist party in the 1920’s, communist and anti-Christian uprisings during the 1930’s, and old struggles between Hainese tribes. In 1937, the Japanese invaded Hainan, a part of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Moninger saw the affected Chinese and later encountered the war first hand and faced house arrest during the Japanese occupation. Her missionary service was cut short by the United States’ entrance into World War II. She returned to Iowa to live with her father and sister in 1942 and taught for two years until she had a stroke. She died March 21, 1950 in Marshalltown.
The Margaret Moninger Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, various publications, a scrapbook, photographs, and a two volume Hainese – English dictionary. This collection provides a wealth of information on the distinctive culture of Hainan.
Series I, Correspondence contains three letters of outgoing correspondence sent to the son of a fellow missionary and to Moninger’s father and one letter of incoming correspondence from a Presbyterian administrator, praising Moninger’s book The Isle of Palms.
Series II, Manuscripts consists of various writings. There are religious parables in this series and essays on the ethnic groups of Hainan.
Series III, Publications contains missionary newsletters, articles written for academic journals, religious publications describing missions and personal stories, and a textbook. The 50th Anniversary edition of the Hainan Newsletter relates some circumstances of the Boxer Rebellion. The Kachek Station newsletters relate Hainese communist threats during the 1930’s. In general, the newsletters contain articles by Moninger, or her editing, or simply brief mentions of her doings. The academic journals contain brief essays by Moninger on cultural practices of the Hainan people or their ethnic characteristics.
Series IV, Scrapbook contains articles, poems, book reviews and magazine photos. There are several articles written by Moninger for U. S. newspapers and religious publications about experiences in Hainan. The article “A Marshall County Girl in China” describes feuding and crime in Hainan. “A Marshall County Woman Between Bolshevik and Anti-Bolshevik Chinese Armies” describes a communist takeover of Kiungchow. In “Conditions in China,” Moninger writes of Hainese refugees fleeing from Japanese invaders. One interesting newspaper clipping in the scrapbook is a published Ivory soap ad, which features a letter by Moninger praising the benefits of Ivory to missionaries.
Series V, Photographs contains photos depicting the people, culture, architecture and natural environment of Hainan. They are interesting and informational, particularly the scenes which portray Hainese agriculture and economy.
Series VI, Oversize consists of the two volumes of Moninger’s Hainese – English Dictionary. The dictionary is handwritten in a large, bound book with lined paper. Each entry contains a Hainese character, then a phonetic spelling followed by a English translation.
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 12-14); 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, University of Oregon Libraries. 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 material 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], Margaret Moninger Papers, Ax 705, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
Collection is organized into the following series: Series I. Correspondence; Series II. Manuscripts; Series III. Publications; Series IV. Scrapbook; Series V. Photographs; and Series VI. Oversize.
Acquisition Information :
The collection was a gift of Helen Moninger Moffatt in 1972.Related Materials :
Margaret Mary Moninger papers, 1915-1941, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Processing Note :
Collection processed by staff.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
Detailed Description of the Collection