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Register of the J. Arthur Duff papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: J. Arthur Duff papers
    Dates: 1906-1996
    Collection number: 85082
    Creator: Duff, J. Arthur (James Arthur), 1899-1996.
    Collection Size: 14 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box (6.8 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: 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.
    Physical location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English and Chinese

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research. Access to audiovisual materials requires at least two weeks advance notice. Audiovisual materials include sound recordings, video recordings, and motion picture film. Hoover staff will determine whether use copies of the materials requested can be made available. Some materials may not be accessible even with advance notice. Please contact the Hoover Institution Archives for further information.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], J. Arthur Duff papers, [Box no.], 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 Socrates at http://library.stanford.edu/webcat . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in Socrates 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 J. Arthur Duff 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.
    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 his 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.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    United States. Office of Strategic Services
    Burma-History-Japanese occupation, 1942-1945
    China-History-Republic, 1912-1949
    China-Social conditions
    World War, 1939-1945-China
    World War, 1939-1945-Campaign-Burma
    World War, 1939-1945-Secret service
    Secret service-United States