The education of Ruth Jenkins: A Canadian missionary in China, 1920-1927

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Susan Wadley


Religious education, Canadian history, Womens studies, Biographies, Education history, Religious congregations

Subject Categories



This project is a study of Canadian women missionaries in Kaifeng, Honan in the 1920s, and their work in the education of Chinese girls. The voice and experiences of one woman, Ruth Jenkins, dominate the account and provide the narrative thread. Using her letters and the reports of her contemporaries, this study explores the nature of the missionary enterprise as it had evolved by this relatively late period, as well as the cultural forces in Canada that drove its participation and maintained it. It traces the complex forces which came together in China during Jenkins' tenure which led to the loss of status of western missionaries and to the ultimate demise of the sizable western Christian presence in China. This study privileges themes of education and career in two cultures of women and finds parallels and links between them. It elevates the significance of the religious sphere and the "social feminism" of missionaries in the expansion of gender roles and in the evolution of more radical feminism in both countries.


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