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The Undaunted Women of Nanking

The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang

Edited and Translated by Hua-ling Hu and Zhang Lian-hong

Publication Year: 2010

The first book to interleave Minnie Vautrin's diary on the Rape of Nanking with that of her Chinese assistant Tsen Shui-fang from December 8, 1937 to March 1, 1938 day by day. In addition to over 160 annotations by the editors, the volume contains biographical sketches of the women, a note on the two diaries, a chapter on the aftermath of the Rape, two lengthy reports on the Rape of Nanking from Vautrin's correspondence in the Appendix and a selected bibliography.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Zhang Lian-hong and I, Hua-ling Hu, are indebted to China's Second Historical Archives of Nanjing, the Center for Studies on the Nanjing Massacre of Nanjing Normal University, and the Disciples of Christ Historical Society of Nashville, Tennessee, for providing valuable source materials, photographs, and maps. We are also in debt to Dr. Wen-husan Chang, Cindy Chan, and...


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pp. xi-xv

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pp. 1-4

World War II broke out in Europe on September 1, 1939, when Hitler's troops assaulted Poland. Three years later, the United States declared war on the Japanese empire following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Prior to America's entrance into the war, however, the Chinese had been fighting the Japanese for ten years on Chinese soil, ever since the Imperial Army...

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Biographical Sketches

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pp. 5-13

Minnie Vautrin was born on September 27, 1886, in Secor, a small town in central Illinois. Her father, Edmund L. Vautrin, was a blacksmith who worked a small farm to supplement the family income. When Minnie was six years old, her mother, Pauline Lehr, died in childbirth. The little girl learned hard work as a child. She was a born student who dreamed of being a teacher...

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A Note on the Two Diaries

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pp. 14-19

Minnie Vautrin's wartime diary (1937--40), in its entirety, is archived at the Yale Divinity School Library in New Haven, Connecticut. A photocopy of a portion of the diary is deposited at the Disciples of Christ Historical Society of Nashville, Tennessee. And I, Hua-ling Hu, own an original onionskin paper...

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1. Receiving Refugees at Ginling College under Intensifying Bombardment

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pp. 23-34

At 9 a.m. this morning we practiced receiving refugees and have our method well in hand. Pupils of our neighborhood school, "Big” Wang's3 three children and Mrs. Tsen's grandson are five ushers and they look quite important with their special sleeve bands. Six of the servants have also been assigned to help. Mr. Francis Chen4 and Yang Szi-fu5 are to stand outside the gate and try to get...

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2. Japanese Occupation of Nanking-Soldiers' Rampage, Residents' Terror

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pp. 35-62

7:30 a.m. The night was one of peace without, but within one's own consciousness there was fear of unknown danger. Toward morning there seemed to be heavy artillery pounding at the city wall again--perhaps at the remaining barricades at the city gates that interfere with the entrance of the main army...


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pp. G1-G8

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3. Observing Holidays in a Time of Horror and the Refugees' "Goddess of Mercy"

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pp. 63-79

The day before Christmas! About ten o'clock I was called to my office to interview the high military adviser for the --------- division. Fortunately he had an interpreter with him, an old Chinese interpreter for the Embassy. The request was that they be allowed to pick out the prostitute women from...

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4. Registration of Women and the Return of American and European Diplomats

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pp. 80-97

As rice was being served this morning a car drove in with three elderly Japanese women, who were representatives of a women's National Defense Organization. They did not make many comments but seemed interested in looking about. How I wish I could speak Japanese in order to explain something of what..

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5. Life and Problems inside the Ginling Camp

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pp. 98-120

You cannot quite understand how grateful we are for these nights of peace--when we can properly prepare for a night of rest and feel reasonably sure all will be well on the campus for our large group of women refugees. For the last few nights we have had a guard of five newly appointed military police...

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6. The Japanese Demand to Close Refugee Camps and Vautrin's Defiance

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pp. 121-140

A number of our refugees today have asked for bedding. Some of them have tried to stay at home but find soldiers are still coming in asking for bedding, and "hwa gu niang" (young girls). Mr. Wang's brother and mother-in-law had their bedding taken night before last--they are trying to live down in their...

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7. Slowly Restoring Law and Order but Soldiers Keep Searching for hwa gu-niang

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pp. 141-165

This morning prepared a report for the American Embassy giving an account of the incident on the campus yesterday. Took it over this afternoon, but just before doing so Lao Shao came in to tell that soldiers had been up at his home--and that they had been rougher than usual. He wanted to know if he could move down again. In the course of the...

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pp. 166-170

Law and order began to be restored in Nanking in late February of 1938.1 Yet, acts of rape, looting, and murder still occurred in the city, on a smaller scale, even in 1939. Incidents of Japanese soldiers' brutalities were prevalent in the occupied city, and people lived in fear under the military rule. For instance,...

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Appendix: Reports by Minnie Vautrin on the Rape of Nanking from Her Correspondence...

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pp. 173-199

Explanation: My hope for days has been to write a very carefully worded report, but that hope has been given up due to the many interruptions that come each day. Each time I put aside a morning for this work it is finally used for other matters which seem at the moment more important. Have decided...


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pp. 201-219

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 221-227


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pp. 229-238

Author Bios

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809385614
E-ISBN-10: 0809385619
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329632
Print-ISBN-10: 0809329638

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 18 B/w halftones, 5 maps
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ginling College (Nanjing, Jiangsu Sheng, China) -- Officials and employees -- Biography.
  • Women missionaries -- China -- Diaries.
  • Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945 -- China -- Nanjing (Jiangsu Sheng).
  • Vautrin, Minnie, 1886-1941 -- Diaries.
  • Tsen, Shui-fang, 1875-1969 -- Diaries.
  • Nanking Massacre, Nanjing, Jiangsu Sheng, China, 1937 -- Personal narratives.
  • Nanjing (Jiangsu Sheng, China) -- Biography.
  • Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945 -- Atrocities.
  • Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945 -- Personal narratives.
  • Nanjing (Jiangsu Sheng, China) -- History, Military -- 20th century.
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