Another X,Y,Z Attempt and Updates

X, Y, Z.

This week I talked with Dr. Schneider and Dr. Mollin and have a new attempt at an xyz statement. It centers around the question: How did American women missionaries make connections with Korean women when there was such a cultural divide?

I am interested in researching American women missionaries in Korea.

I am interested in this topic because American women brought American ideals and ideas about domesticity, education, family-life, health, even cooking, that were very different from Korean ideas on the same subjects. Nevertheless, they were successful in bridging that cultural divide as evidenced by the large number of Korean women converts.

I believe this is important because it has ramifications for the conversation on the rise of Christianity in Korea, which at this point does not include theories about the impact of women.

As for other updates: I found a plethora of primary sources, actually online which I will be combing through to see if they will be of any use. I also have rolls of microfilm from the Northern presbyterian mission which includes reports, publications and correspondence from 1906 to the 1950s. I found some wonderful finding aids for material pre1906 which I will have to go to Philadelphia to see. There is also an archive in Montreat North Carolina for the Southern Presbyterian church. They do not have any finding aids online; however, I emailed them and they are going to send me finding aids for Korean missionaries within the next two weeks. Since I am interested mostly in years pre 1906 I will need to plan a trip to Philadelphia, as well as Montreat. My mother went to high school at Montreat so it will be a nice visit for her to go along with me.


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8 Responses to Another X,Y,Z Attempt and Updates

  1. KJ

    Faith, you are on a roll! The question is much more focused, gives you a way to incorporate both Korean and American women, and a way to use missionary sources creatively.
    Will you be able to use/adapt/question frameworks and conclusions from other studies of missionary women and the entrance of Christianity into cultures without a western religious tradition? Are there other studies of other countries that ask questions similar to yours?

  2. faithskiles

    I did pick up a book I was thinking about adding to my bibliography on the work of missions in Japan. I will definitely add it and I’m sure Dr. Schneider knows about the time period and the rise of Christianity in China. I am also currently reading some articles that address women’s missionary work in the Pacific rim regions, none of which have a western religious tradition. I am also combing dissertations, which seem to have the most to say about women’s work. Only three of the dissertations emerged as books and one is in Korean. I’ve read one, am reading the second and will judiciously translate passages from the third. I am also putting the dissertations high on my reading list.

  3. Carmen Bolt


    I am glad to see that your new XYZ sentence gets straight to the heart of what you are hoping to do with your project. I think each part of the sentence flows together well, and will be looking forward to hearing the central question you have that encompasses them. It is indeed significant to add a gender component to this study, and I am happy to hear that you are discovering such a useful source base. I also look forward to hearing your findings about similar/different studies in different countries.

    • faithskiles

      Thanks for the encouragement! I enjoy studying history through the lens of gender. I am even doing that in my theory classes! I think I got the impetus from my feminist daughter! Hahahaha…. I am also very interested in your topic as well. I think studying natural disasters (or not so ‘natural’) is fascinating! Feel free to bounce ideas my way anytime!

  4. Claire

    Hi Faith,

    I like your new question! I like it because it speaks more to a dialogue between Korean women and American missionaries, as opposed to American missionaries being the sole actors in the narrative.

    What is the current conversation about Christianity in Korea? I know that is a big question, but can you tell me a little bit about it?


    • faithskiles

      Hi Claire,

      Well, from what I’ve discovered so far, there are a few theories out there. One theory espouses that the nature of the indigenous religion of Korea, which included ideas of monotheism and heaven and hell, allowed Koreans to easily accept Christianity. A second looks to the type of social and educational programs instituted by missionary groups as an impetus to positive reception. A third idea looks to the political activism of the early church against Japanese colonization as the reason for widespread conversions.

      I think though what they are missing is that the vast majority of converts were women…and I do believe education played a role, but maybe not in the way they are espousing. And I am curious about syncretism – possible hybridity??? 🙂

  5. Kevin "Tiny" Dawson

    Hey Faith,
    It sounds like you have a lot of research and information to go through and the upcoming trip(s) sound very interesting. I don’t know if this will help, but do you wish to stick to just Presbyterian missionaries, or were there other denominations that might have research information available. For instance, the Baptists, Methodists, etc. They might also have information available that could cross reference in what you are researching, just a thought. Good luck and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    • faithskiles

      Hi Tiny,

      The Methodist did have a large mission presence in Korea! I was wondering though, if I might be better off sticking to just northern and southern Presbyterians in order not to bite off more than I can chew. I guess we will see!! Thanks for the suggestion!

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