Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Register of the J. Arthur Duff papers
No online items No online items       Request items ↗
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (126.19 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: J. Arthur Duff papers
    Date: 1906-1996
    Collection Number: 85082
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 14 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box (6.8 linear feet)
    Abstract: Memoirs, other writings, correspondence, printed matter, memorabilia, and photographs relating to missionaries in China, political and social conditions in China prior to and during World War II, and American intelligence operations in China during World War II.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Duff, J. Arthur (James Arthur), 1899-1996.


    The collection is open for research; materials must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], J. Arthur Duff papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1985.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at https://searchworks.stanford.edu . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    1899 November 14 Born in Kuling, China
    1911-1920 Sent to live with relatives in Ontario, Canada
    1920 Returned to China, went into business in Shanghai
    1926 Married Jeanie Woodbridge (a China-born daughter of 13 generations of Canadian ministers and missionaries). They had five children: Woodrow, Virginia, Arthur, David, and Teddy
    1939 Moved his family to the United States when the Japanese invaded China
    1941 December-1942 February Escaped internment in Hong Kong
    1942 Recruited by the O.S.S. and returned to China to operate as an O.S.S. agent on the Chinese mainland for the duration of the war
    1945-1960 Established a highly successful manufacturing and retail business in several areas in the Far East
    1960 Retired from active business becoming a world-wide wanderer
    1979 Had a stroke
    1990 Suffered a series of strokes, entered a nursing facility at Carewest Calistoga, California
    1996 August 2 Died, California

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers relate to missionaries in China, political and social conditions in China before and during World War II and American intelligence operations in China during World War II.
    The Biographical File includes personal documents of and about J. Arthur Duff, as well as information on his wife, Mrs. Jeannie Woodbridge-Duff. The Biographical File also includes documentation on Duff's positions in private business. A substantial part of the collection contains material on Duff's escape from Hong Kong, his return to China, and work for the OSS. In early spring of 1942, Cornelius V. Starr established an ambitious intelligence plan called "The Counter Japanese Division of COI." His insurance company and newspapers were to be used as cover to collect intelligence in China. Duff joined this group and led the counter-Japanese division in Chungking. His work provided significant documentation on the situation in the Pacific and in the China-Burma sector. Duff's performance, grasp of strategic issues, and persistence in upholding the course of action he believed to be viable is documented, as are his disagreements with C. V. Starr.
    Correspondence contains business and personal documents, including extensive correspondence and the collected writings of Barbara W. Tuchman, an authority on the subject of Joseph W. Stilwell's life and career.
    Typewritten memoirs constitute the most significant segment of the Writings series. Therein Duff recorded details of his daily life, his thoughts on various subjects, his trips, and his personal life. According to his daughter Virginia Black, his lack of training or knowledge in a subject area did not impose any restraints or restrictions whatsoever on his outspoken opinion. This series is divided into three parts by the time of the event, topic, and miscellany writings on various issues (See J. Arthur Duff papers, Box 1, Folder 1).
    Background Material consists of materials by other authors, generally similar in topic to Duff's own work, such as childhood memoirs, China and its people, customs and culture, World War II, and world's current events issues. It also includes photocopies of books and articles, press summaries, studies, reports, clippings, and printed materials related to the subject of his interests.
    Finally, the Photographs depict scenes and people from China, Canada, Africa, and many places of the United States. Also included are an extensive amount of prints documenting Duff family members and their travels around the world.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    United States. Office of Strategic Services.
    China--History--Republic, 1912-1949.
    China--Social conditions.
    Secret service--United States.
    World War, 1939-1945--China.
    World War, 1939-1945--Secret service.