Charles Jones Soong Reference collection, 1882-1995

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Duke University. University Archives
Han Chiao-shun (Charles "Charlie" Jones Soong) was Trinity College's first international student. He was an American-trained missionary who became a successful business man and industrialist in Shanghai as well as patriarch of the influential Soong family. Collection contains correspondence, publications, clippings, and articles concerning Charles Jones Soong. Materials date from 1882-1995.
0.25 Linear Feet
250 Items
Material in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
01 -- General Information and University History
01 -- General Information and University History > 11 -- Reference Collections


Scope and content:

Collection contains correspondence, (notably between Charles Jones Soong and Tse Vung Soong (son); Franklin D. Roosevelt to Tse Vung Soong) publications, clippings, and articles concerning Charles Jones Soong. Most of the materials consist of photocopies of the originals and transcription is provided for select materials.

Biographical / historical:

Han Chiao-shun (Charles "Charlie" Jones Soong) was Trinity College's first international student. Born in the Wench'ang district of the island of Hainan, off the coast of the Kwangtung province of China in 1866, he was the youngest of three boys. Around 1875, he was sent off to the East Indies with one of his brothers to find work. Three years later he was adopted by a childless maternal uncle and taken to the United States where his name was changed to Soon Chai-Jui.

Upon arriving in the United States, the young Soong worked in his uncle's tea and silk shop in Boston. He then became a cabin boy in the Coast Guard where he met Captain Eric Gabrielson. Gabrielson, a devout Methodist, talked to Song about Christianity and took him to church whenever they were in port. On November 7, 1880 Charles Jones Soon (the final "g" was not added until his return to China in 1886) was baptized at the Fifth Street Methodist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Soong, who had expressed interest in securing an education and returning to China as a missionary, received aid from General Julian S. Carr of Durham who financed his education at Trinity College, Duke University's forerunner. Soong spent close to two years (April 1881-fall 1882) at Trinity as a "special and preparatory student" where he studied under Dr. Braxton Craven, Trinity's president. In the fall of 1882 he entered the theological seminary of Vanderbilt University.

In January 1886, Soong arrived in Shanghai as a missionary under the auspices of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South). Soong continued to serve as a missionary until 1892 when he resigned and went into private enterprise. Although, no longer a missionary Soong continued to be a "devout and active Christian" founding the YMCA in China, working with the American Bible Society in Shanghai, teaching Sunday school classes, and providing generous financial support.

In addition to being a lay leader and a businessman, Charles Jones Soong and his family are often regarded as "republican China's first family." Although the exact extents of his participation in the revolutionary movement are undocumented, he was known to be an ardent supporter and close friend of Sun Yat-sen. His daughter Ch'ing-ling married Sun Yat-sen. His remaining children (all educated in the United States) continued to play a role in Chinese history. One daughter married Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. The third daughter married the Chinese finance minister (said to be the richest man in the world). One of Soong's sons became the Chinese prime minister, another was chairman of the bank of Canton, and the third became an international financier.

Acquisition information:
This collection was compiled from a variety of sources by the University Archives staff for use in reference and research.
Processing information:

Processed by Archives Staff, July 2004

Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, December 2007

Updated February 2014

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Duke University -- History
Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- History -- 19th century
Methodist Episcopal Church, South -- Clergy -- North Carolina
Soong, Charles Jones


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Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Charles Jones Soong Reference Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.