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J. C. Clark Papers, 1893-1967

By Anne Bahde

Collection Overview

Title: J. C. Clark Papers, 1893-1967

Predominant Dates: 1911-1956


Primary Creator: Clark, J. C. (Jesse Claude) (1881-1956)

Extent: 0.7 cubic feet. More info below.

Languages of Materials: English [eng], Chinese [chi]


The J. C. Clark Papers document Clark's 40-year career with the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in the United States and in China as Boy's Division Secretary and World Brotherhood Secretary. The papers also document elements of his personal life, including his marriage to former OSU Dean of Home Economics Ava Milam.

Scope and Content Notes

The J. C. Clark Papers document both personal and professional areas of Clark's life. Series 1: Religious Work includes a number of detailed reports written by Clark as Boy's Division Secretary at the Shanghai Young Men's Christian Association between 1911 and 1926. He begins most of his reports with an account of national events and politics, during particularly volatile years in China. In these reports, Clark documents the social, political, and cultural environment from his perspective as secretary, including accounts of an earthquake in 1923, accounts of war in 1924 and resulting YMCA work for refugees and soldiers, descriptions of local anti-Christian sentiment, details on the influence of opium in the country, industrial and trade problems, and YMCA involvement in labor reform. Series 2: Correspondence includes both professional and personal correspondence, primarily related to Clark's retirement from the American Baptist Assembly and his interest in the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship. Series 3: Personal Materials contains appointment books, certificates, and photographs documenting different periods from Clark's life, with an emphasis on his time in China.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Jesse Claude Clark, known throughout his life as J. C., was born in Iowa. He attended Oregon Agricultural College, graduating in 1904. J. C. was a deeply religious man, which was reflected in his life's work. After graduation from OAC, he became the Boy's Work Secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Boise, Idaho. Soon after, he joined the staff of the Young Men's Christian Association in Portland, Oregon. During his tenure in Portland, he established a boys' camp at Spirit Lake, and started and operated a home for working boys in the city. He married Julia Fuller, a 1906 graduate of Oregon Agricultural College, in 1907. He was assigned to the Shanghai, China branch of the YMCA in 1911 as the Boy's Division Secretary, and he moved there with his young family, including children Winston, Richard, and Emogene. In Shanghai, he oversaw a rapidly expanding set of services for Chinese boys and families. In addition to conducting the first ever camp for boys in China in 1913, he planned a building complex for boys' activities, which was finished in 1915. His Division became the largest in the world in 1914. Later he also became responsible for the Industrial Service of the Shanghai YMCA, and founded a Model Village for industrial workers at Pootung. J. C. and his family spent 12 years in Shanghai, and in the 1920s Clark accepted an appointment as the World Brotherhood Secretary of the National Council of the YMCA in the United States. Clark was elected to the honor society Phi Kappa Phi in 1928. Later, he became the General Secretary of the Seaman's Y in New York City. He retired from the YMCA in 1944, and became director of the American Baptist Assembly summer conference center in Green Lake, Wisconsin. His wife Julia died in 1951, when he retired completely. He returned to Oregon in 1952 and married Ava Milam after a brief courtship. J. C. and Ava traveled around the world during their short time together; JC died on August 26, 1956 after a brief illness.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 38 photographs; 2 boxes

Statement on Access: The collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: These materials were separated from the Ava Milam Clark Papers in 2016. They were originally acquired through her estate in 1975.

Related Materials: The papers of J. C. Clark's wife, Ava Milam Clark, are also held in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center. The Edgar Raymond Shepard Letters also contain material about the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).

Preferred Citation: J. C. Clark Papers (MSS ClarkJC), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information: This collection was fully processed in June 2016, and the Jesse C. and Ava Milam Clark Photographic Collection (P 152) was formally dissolved and integrated with this collection and the Ava Milam Clark Papers at that time.


Clark, J. C. (Jesse Claude) (1881-1956)

People, Places, and Topics

American Baptist Assembly (Green Lake, Wis.)
China--Social conditions.
Church camps--Wisconsin.
Clark, J. C. (Jesse Claude), 1881-1956
National Council of the Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States of America.
Portland Young Men's Christian Association (Portland, Or.)
University History
Young Men's Christian Association of Boise.
Young Men's Christian Associations of China

Forms of Material

Photographic prints.

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Religious Work, 1911-1967
Series 1 is comprised primarily of reports authored by Clark as Boys' Division Secretary at the Shanghai Young Men's Christian Association from 1911-1926. These detailed narrative reports include letters to individuals and to groups, which Clark calls "report letters." These document activities and developments within the organization and within the locale. Clark reports on the development of services for citizens, which include English classes, financial aid, religious services, employment and placement services, social activities, gym facilities, and public health campaigns covering sanitation, temperance, and prevention of tuberculosis and cholera. The reports also document the YMCA's establishment of day and evening schools for boys, the development of an apprentice school, citizenship courses, and the first Boy Scout troop in China, lead by Clark. Some reports include printed color ephemera such handouts and pamphlets for young boys. Other materials include publications from the YMCA in Shanghai, and a small amount of material related Clark's work with the American Baptist Assembly.
Box-Folder 1.1: YMCA reports and letters, 1911-1914
Box-Folder 1.2: YMCA reports and letters, 1912-1914
Box-Folder 1.3: YMCA Annual Report, 1915
Box-Folder 1.4: YMCA reports and letters, 1915-1916
Box-Folder 1.5: YMCA Annual Report, 1917-1918
Box-Folder 1.6: YMCA reports and letters, 1917-1919
Box-Folder 1.7: YMCA Annual Reports, 1918-1919
Box-Folder 1.8: YMCA letters and reports, 1920-1922
Box-Folder 1.9: YMCA letters and reports, 1921-1922
Box-Folder 1.10: YMCA letters and reports, 1923-1924
Box-Folder 1.11: YMCA letters and reports, 1925
Box-Folder 1.12: YMCA letters and reports, 1926-1927
Box-Folder 1.13: Articles by J. C. Clark, 1911-1952
Box-Folder 1.14: Publications of Shanghai YMCA, 1914-1927
Box-Folder 1.15: National YMCA reports, 1933, 1967
Box-Folder 1.16: American Baptist Assembly, Green Lake, Wisconsin, 1933-1963
Series 2: Correspondence, 1944-1956
Series 2: Correspondence includes both incoming and outgoing letters, especially related to Clark's retirement from the YMCA in 1944 and from the American Baptist Assembly in 1952. Correspondence with family members and friends trading news and advice appear throughout the series. Of particular note is a file of letters (folder 2.4) regarding Clark's interest in spiritualism and the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship late in his life.
Box-Folder 2.1: Correspondence, 1944
Box-Folder 2.2: Correspondence, 1951-1952
Box-Folder 2.3: Correspondence, 1954-1956
Box-Folder 2.4: Correspondence, 1954-1956
Series 3: Personal Materials, 1893-1956
Series 3 consists of a textbook used by Clark while attending Oregon Agricultural College, several address and appointment books, and multiple photographs of Clark, his friends, and his family.
Box-Folder 2.5: Harmony of the Gospels, 1893
Box-Folder 2.6: Address and date books, 1923-1954
Box-Folder 2.7: Phi Kappa Phi materials, 1928
Box-Folder 2.8: Photographs, circa 1900-1954
Includes P152:1, P152:2, P152:3, P152:4, P152:5, P152:6, P152:7
Box-Folder 2.9: Obituaries, 1956-1957

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.