Register of the Robert Ezra McCann papers

Processed by Beth Goder.
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Phone: (650) 723-3563
Fax: (650) 725-3445
© 2012
Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Register of the Robert Ezra McCann papers

Hoover Institution Archives

Stanford University

Stanford, California
Processed by:
Beth Goder
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
Machine-readable finding aid derived from Microsoft Word and MARC record by Beth Goder.
© 2012 Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Title: Robert Ezra McCann papers
Dates: ca. 1900-1961
Collection Number: 76040
Creator: McCann, Robert Ezra, 1901-1961.
Collection Size: 6 manuscript boxes (2.4 linear feet)
Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: The papers include correspondence relating to American business interests in China and to the detainment of Robert Ezra McCann, who was arrested in 1951 by Chinese authorities and charged with espionage in 1956. Also included are slides depicting Beijing in the early twentieth century.
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
Languages: The collection is in English, with some documents in German.

Administrative Information


Collection is open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

Publication Rights

For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Robert Ezra McCann papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

Acquisition Information

Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1976.


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 . 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.

Related Materials

J. Arthur Duff papers, Hoover Institution Archives
Benjamin W. Gally miscellany, Hoover Institution Archives

Biographical Note

1901 Born, Chefoo, Shandong Province, China
1922 Graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California
1930s-1951, circa President, Frazer Federal Inc., USA
1941-1943, circa Interned by Japan
1943 Repatriated to the United States
1946 Returned to Tianjin, China, to resume work at Frazer Federal
1951 June 14 Arrested by the government of the People's Republic of China (Communist Party of China)
1951-1961 Detained in various prisons in China
1956 Charged with espionage and sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment
1961 Petition of Flora McCann (wife) to release McCann from prison accepted
1961 May Died of lung cancer at Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, en route to the United States
"Ex-China Captive Dead of Cancer." New York Times. 5 May 1961.
"In Humanitarian Spirit." Time. 14 April 1961.
"Peiping to Free Ill U.S. Prisoner." New York Times 4 April 1961.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Robert Ezra McCann papers document McCann's automotive business in China and responses to his arrest and detainment by Chinese authorities, as well as the effects of changing political conditions on American business in China.
Before his arrest, McCann worked in Tianjin, China, as president of Frazer Federal Inc., USA, an automotive transportation company that imported and exported supplies. The Correspondence consists of letters written by or addressed to employees of Frazer Federal. Many of the letters contain discussions of business matters such as finances, business deals, and the importation and exportation of automotive supplies. However, much of the correspondence concerns McCann's imprisonment in China, including the events leading up to his arrest, his condition after detainment, and possible options to assist him. The correspondents discuss the changes in China occurring as a result of shifting political circumstances and report on what they know of McCann's location and condition, as well as the status of other businessmen in China.
The majority of the letters are addressed to or sent from William Haenisch, who was vice president of Frazer Federal and a principle shareholder. The correspondence filed under William Haenisch's name is inter-company correspondence between Haenisch and the Tianjin (also spelled Tientsin) and Qingdao (also spelled Tsingtao) offices of Frazer Federal. Letters filed under the name of Floyd F. Spielman, who engaged in business with Frazer Federal, consist of correspondence between Spielman and Haenisch.
The only correspondence grouped by subject, instead of by individual or company name, concerns the S.S. Perico, a ship carrying tires that was seized by the Chinese Nationalist Government while en route to Tianjin, China, from Hong Kong.
The collection also includes Photographs of Beijing (labeled Peking), most likely from the early 20th century. This file contains slides taken by Donald Mennie and Hugo J. Wessels, as well as slides used as an educational aid for the North China Christian Rural Service Union.


The collection is organized into three series: Correspondence, Miscellany file, and Photographs.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Frazer Federal.
Business enterprises--China.
Corporations, American--China.
Espionage, American--China.
Peking (China)--Pictorial works.
Slides (Photography).

Collection Contents

Box: 1-6

Correspondence 1947-1961

Scope and Content Note

Consists of correspondence to or from Frazer Federal employees concerning business matters and Robert McCann's arrest. Arranged as received, alphabetically by individual, company name, or subject.
Box/Folder: 1 : 1

General, 1950-1961

Scope and Content Note

See also Floyd F. Spielman incoming letters
Box/Folder: 1 : 2-3

Allis-Chambers Manufacturing Co., 1949-1953

Box/Folder: 1 : 4

Aluminium Union, Ldt., 1949-1951

Box/Folder: 1 : 5

B, 1949-1951

Box/Folder: 1 : 6

C, 1949-1952

Box/Folder: 1 : 7

Carlowitz & Co., 1950-1951

Box/Folder: 1 : 8

Carter Carburetor Corporation, 1949-1955

Box: 1-2

Chrysler Corporation

Box/Folder: 1 : 9-11

Incoming, 1949-1958

Box/Folder: 1 : 12-13

Outgoing, 1947-1956

Box/Folder: 2 : 1-3

Outgoing, 1949-1958

Box/Folder: 2 : 4

Civil Air Transport, 1949-1955

Box/Folder: 2 : 5

Connell Bros. Company, Ltd., 1949-1952

Box/Folder: 2 : 6

Continental Gin Company, 1950

Box/Folder: 2 : 7-10

Cooper, M.D. of Dodwell Motors, 1949-1961

Scope and Content Note

Includes letters from other Dodwell Motors employees
Box/Folder: 2 : 11

D, 1949-1961

Box/Folder: 2 : 12

Demag Aktiengesellschaft, 1950-1951

Box/Folder: 3 : 1

E, 1949-1955

Box: 3

Electric Auto-Lite Company

Box/Folder: 3 : 2

Incoming, 1949-1954

Box/Folder: 3 : 3

Outgoing, 1950-1952

Box/Folder: 3 : 4

Outgoing, 1949-1952

Scope and Content Note

See also Floyd F. Spielman incoming letters
Box/Folder: 3 : 5

F, 1949-1955

Box/Folder: 3 : 6-7

Frazer & Company, 1949-1961

Box/Folder: 3 : 8

G, 1950-1951

Box/Folder: 3 : 9

Greayer, W., 1949-1952

Box/Folder: 3 : 10

H, 1950-1952

Box: 3-4

Haenish, William

Box/Folder: 3 : 11-13

Letters to Tianjin Office of Frazer Federal Inc., USA, 1949-1952

Scope and Content Note

Includes letters to Robert McCann
Box/Folder: 4 : 1-4

Letters to Tianjin Office of Frazer Federal Inc., USA, (contd.) 1949-1952

Scope and Content Note

Includes letters to Robert McCann
Box/Folder: 4 : 5

Tsingtao Office Frazer Federal Inc., USA, 1949-1954

Box/Folder: 4 : 6

Harley-Davidson Motor Co., 1949-1953

Box/Folder: 4 : 7-8

Hodes, Hy, 1950-1961

Box/Folder: 4 : 9

I and J, 1949-1957

Box/Folder: 4 : 10

Inniss & Riddle (China) Limited, 1950-1953

Box/Folder: 5 : 1-2

International B.F. Goodrich Co., 1949-1961

Box/Folder: 5 : 3

K, 1949-1953

Box/Folder: 5 : 4

L, 1949-1954

Scope and Content Note

Includes letter from McCann with history of Frazer Federal
Box/Folder: 5 : 5

M, 1950-1961

Box/Folder: 5 : 6

N, 1949

Box/Folder: 5 : 7-8

Nisshu Sangyo Co., Ltd., 1950-1952

Box/Folder: 5 : 9

O, 1949-1955

Box/Folder: 5 : 10

P, 1949-1953

Box/Folder: 5 : 11

R, 1949-1953

Box/Folder: 5 : 12

S, 1950-1952

Box/Folder: 5 : 13-14

S.S. Perico, ship seized by Chinese National Government, 1949-1952

Box: 5-6

Spielman, Floyd F.

Box/Folder: 5 : 15

Incoming, 1949

Box/Folder: 6 : 1-2

Incoming, 1950-1956

Box/Folder: 6 : 3-5

Outgoing, 1949-1955

Box/Folder: 6 : 6

T, 1950-1958

Box/Folder: 6 : 7

Thyken, Father Ralph, 1949-1960

Box/Folder: 6 : 8

U, 1950

Box/Folder: 6 : 9

V, 1949-1950

Box/Folder: 6 : 10

W, 1949-1951

Box/Folder: 6 : 11

W.D. Blood & Co, Inc., 1949-1950

Box: 6

Miscellany 1950-1961

Scope and Content Note

Includes documents and correspondence about insurance for Frazer Federal and a speech by Stanley K. Hornbeck. Arranged alphabetically by format.
Box/Folder: 6 : 12

Insurance file for Frazer Federal Inc., USA, 1951-1961

Box/Folder: 6 : 13

Invoices and number sheets, 1950, undated

Box/Folder: 6 : 14

Speech by Stanley K. Hornbeck, "Learning the Hard Way in the Far East," 1955

Box: 6

Photographs ca. 1900s

Scope and Content Note

Consists of 35 mm slides of Peking (Beijing). Includes slides by Donald Mennie and Hugo J. Wessels.
Box/Folder: 6 : 15-16

Peking (Beijing), circa early 1900s

Scope and Content Note

Housed in 19 sheets