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14 A NOTE ON THE TWO DIARIES  Minnie Vautrin’s Diary (1937–40) 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 carbon copy of part of the diary. The diary at Yale is cataloged under the title “Wilhelmina Vautrin, Diary and Misc., 1937–1940, Archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, Record Group No. 11, Special Collection.” According to Martha Smalley, special collection librarian/curator of the Day Mission Collection of the Divinity School Library, the diary was donated with other Ginling College records to the library by the United Board in “approximately 1981.”1 As to why the diary is labeled with the name “Wilhelmina,” no one knows the reason the United Board employed this name instead of “Minnie.” Vautrin ’s niece, Emma Lyon, repeatedly stated that her aunt had only one given name, “Minnie,” and that she had never heard anyone in the family called her “Wilhelmina.”2 Also, after combing through the entire diary and all her correspondence (1919–41), which is also archived at the Divinity School Library, I concur with Mrs. Lyon that Vautrin used only the name “Minnie” during her lifetime. Further, it is the name recorded on her transcripts at Illinois State University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana3 as well as engraved on her tombstone at Shepherd, Michigan. The diary at Disciples of Christ is listed under the title Minnie Vautrin Papers. It covers the period from August 12, 1937, to July 1, 1938. According the chief archivist, Sarah Harwell, the diary was donated to the historical society by a gentleman named Joseph Smith on November 12, 1984. She had no information about the donor’s background.4 The original onionskin paper +X'LDU\1RWHLQGG $0 15 A NOTE ON THE TWO DIARIES carbon copy in my possession covers the period from November 1, 1937, to July 30, 1938. The copy was given to me by Mrs. Lyon on May 26, 1995, when I paid my respects at her aunt’s grave. The text of Vautrin’s diary in all three copies is the same, but only Yale holds the complete diary. Vautrin started her diary on August 12, 1937, when Ginling College began to make preparations for the forthcoming war. On the next day, August 13, the Japanese army attacked Shanghai and began air raids on Nanking two days later. Vautrin wrote, “Leaves from my diary started on August 12, 1937,” prior to starting her first diary entry of the day. Yet, a journal of her activities from June 20 to August 11, 1937, enclosed in her letter to “Dear Friends” of August 12, was attached at the beginning of the diary. The diary ended on April 14, 1940, when Vautrin was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In the last diary entry, she wrote, “I’m about at the end of my energy. Can no longer forge ahead and make plans for the work, for on every hand there seems to be obstacles of some kind.” Below the entry, someone at Ginling handwrote: “In May 1940, Miss Vautrin’s health broke, necessitating her return to the United States.”5 The original motive for Vautrin to start the diary was that the forthcoming war and all the extra tasks involved in preparing for it made it increasingly difficult for her to keep her friends informed by writing letters. In the letter to “Dear Friends” of August 12, she wrote: “I’ll resort to the diary form again because my mind seems to work that way—probably a result of increasing age.” Nevertheless, from the contents of the diary, especially the portion on the Rape of Nanking and its aftermath, it is evident that Vautrin intended to leave an eyewitness account of the crimes committed by the Japanese soldiers and the suffering of the innocent Chinese, especially women. She wanted to tell the world what really happened in desecrated Nanking. For instance, she entered in her diary on the night of December 16, 1937, “From a military point of view, the taking of Nanking may be considered a victory for the Japanese army but judging it from the moral law it is a defeat and national disgrace.” On February 2...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780809385614
Related ISBN
9780809329632
MARC Record
OCLC
649913248
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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