Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Clarke family papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Contents
  • Separated Materials
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Reference Books in Box 16

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Clarke Family Papers
    Creator: Clarke, Ruth Johnson
    Identifier/Call Number: M0292
    Physical Description: 20 Linear Feet (36 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1870-1973
    Abstract: Ruth and Eric Clarke were both children of missionaries in China, and the Clarkes lived in China through the 1940s. Ruth Clarke was a passionate collector of Chinese art and the collection is largely focused on her collection and sales records, but there are also many files of correspondence, genealogical records, and over ten boxes of photographs.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use. Audiovisual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Molly Clarke, 1974.


    Collection was partially reprocessed in 2023.

    Biographical / Historical

    The daughter of Dr. Charles Fletcher Johnson and Agnes Elliott Johnson, Ruth Clarke was born on April 2, 1890 in Wei Hsien, Shantung, China where she quickly mastered Mandarin Chinese. She was educated at Miss Jewell's School in Shanghai which was also attended by Miss Pearl Buck. After visiting her uncle Hosmer Johnson in Washington D.C., Ruth entered and graduated from Wilson College (Chambersburg, Pa.) in 1912. She then returned to Shanghai to accept a teaching position at Miss Jewell's.
    In 1916 Ruth Johnson accepted a new position in the Peking American School. It was there that she met J. Eric G. Clarke whom she married on June 21, 1916 in Tsinanfu, Shantung. The Rev. W. P. Chalfant officiated. Kathleen Clarke, Margaret Emma Johnson, Gerald Clarke and Hosmer F. Johnson were members of the wedding party. Dating from this ceremony, the couple often signed their combined correspondence Rutheric. Following a brief honeymoon in Tai Shan, the couple returned to Peking where they resided for the next 16 years. During this period Mrs. Clarke made several trips to the United States where she exhibited many of the fabulous Oriental art treasures she had collected throughout her stay in China.
    Soon after the couple moved to Shanghai the threat of war between Japan and China became reality. Overnight, internment camps were set up for aliens like the Clarkes. Their homes were occupied by Japanese soldiers as soon as they were evacuated by the local Occupation authorities. From April 10, 1943 until a few weeks following the Japanese surrender to MacArthur on August 14, 1945, the Clarkes were confined at Lung Hwa Camp near Peking.
    Among the nearly 1800 interns at Lung Hwa were men and women from all professions and backgrounds. Although spirits were high during the first season at the camp, morale worsened during the winter--food became scarce and poorer in quality and the stoves which the Japanese installed on each floor of the ten dormitories were never lit. The cubicles they occupied were 4`8 by 22' long. Despite the difficult conditions they encountered at the camp, the Clarkes and their fellow inmates managed to maintain a high level of personal development which is reflected in the many activities enjoyed at the camp: lectures, plays, musical productions and many other kinds of intellectual stimulation. One of the most amusing highlights of their stay was the development of a game called Dictionary Please. Because of their limited reading material, the Clarkes designed a game which relied only upon the dictionary they brought with them and their active imaginations. The game was so successful that it became a partial livelihood following their return to America in 1946.
    Residing in Portland, Oregon, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke remained active socially and intellectually. Mrs. Clarke served as president of Zonta International and the Lewis and Clarke's Women's League. Mrs. Clarke now [as of 1974] resides in Mountain View, California.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item] Clarke Family Papers, M0292, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Scope and Contents

    Correspondence, photographs of China, Chinese art and family, books and pamphlets mostly about Chinese art, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, etc.

    Separated Materials

    Selected volumes from the collection have been individually cataloged:

    Conditions Governing Use

    While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns. Some of these materials are believed to be in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use of public domain materials.

    Reference Books in Box 16

    1. Palmer, J.P.: Jade Spring Books; London, 1967.
    2. The Encyclopaedia Sinica Couling, Samuel Kelly & Walsh; Shanghai, 1917.
    3. Thiel, Albert W.R.: Chinese Pottery and Stoneware Thos. Nelson & Sons; N.Y., N.D.
    4. Goette, John: Jade Lore Kelly & Walsh; Shanghai, 1936.
    5. Forsyth, Robb. Coventry: Shanting, The Sacred Province of China Christian Literature Society; Shanghai, 1912
    6. Graham, Dorothy: Through the Moon Door J. H. Sears & Co.; N.Y., 1926.
    7. Brandt, J.: Introduction to Literary Chinese North China Union Language School; Peking, 1927.
    8. Weale, B.L. Putnam: The Vanished Empire Macmillan & Co.; London, 1926.
    9. Jennu, Delia: Letter from Peking Oxford UP; London, 1967.
    10. Busheel, Stephen W.: Chinese ArtV. I Eyre & Spottiswoode; London, 1909.
    11. Smith, Arthur H.: Chinese Characteristics 3rd ed. Fleming H. Revell Co.; N.Y., 1894.
    12. Grubb, Norman P.: C.T.Studd, Cricketer & Pioneer Religious Tract Society; London, 1933.
    13. Martin, W.A.P.: The Siege in Peking Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier; Edinburgh, 1900.
    14. Lymn, Jermyn Chi-Hung: Social Life of The Chinese in Peking China Booksellers; Peking, 1928.
    15. Strong: A Sketch of Chinese Arts & Crafts China Booksellers; Peking, 1926.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Art, Chinese -- Collectors and collecting
    Missionaries -- China -- History -- 19th century.
    China -- History
    China -- Description and travel