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Missionaries in China: Through the Eyes of Grace McClurg Carson

Grace McClurg Carson was an uncommon figure for her time, and the choices she made allowed her to bear witness to some extraordinary events in world history. Born on April 26, 1884 to Eliza (Brown) McClurg and her husband, Joseph, she followed her twin passions for religion and education to China. As an unmarried woman, her experiences were different than many others of time, particularly in terms of her level of independence. Her focus, rather than being on the home, children, and a husband, was on mission work, teaching mostly Chinese girls for a total of twelve years.

Though she was to remain unmarried for the majority of her life, this was not to last forever. After her seventieth birthday, McClurg reconnected with Rev. Dr. F. Stanley Carson, a friend and fellow missionary from her time in China. Rev. Carson's first wife, Grace Darling Carson, passed away in 1956, after a lengthy illness. After a visit at her home in Lima, Ohio, Ms. McClurg and Rev. Carson decided to marry later that year. They remained together through his death in 1970. Grace McClurg Carson passed away on February 10, 1979.

Viewing China through Grace McClurg's eyes presents an incomplete, problematic, and yet very interesting portrait of the country in a time of change. We should be aware of the position McClurg was coming from as a Christian missionary and Westerner, and the ways in which this predisposed her to think about China in certain ways (as "heathen," for example). Nevertheless, she offers interesting insights which speak not just to the South China context of the time, but also to the Northwest Ohio, Midwest, and United States contexts of the early Twentieth Century. 

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