Guide to the Inabelle Graves Coleman Papers, 1942-1981 (bulk 1952-1957)

Collection Overview

The Inabelle Graves Coleman Papers, 1942-1981 (bulk 1952-1957), contain letters and more than 300 photographs documenting her life as a female Baptist missionary in Shanghai, China, and Taipei, Taiwan. Coleman was a school administrator, teacher, and author who lived much of her life abroad in service for the Southern Baptist Convention. Written almost entirely to family members, the letters date from 1946 to 1957, and contain information about her daily life and work; most were sent from Taipei, although some from Shanghai are also included.

The letters reveal tremendous enthusiasm for her work, the people around her, and those she brought into the church's ministry. This zeal for fostering the Christian life in others often overshadowed news of her regular teaching dutes, as she perhaps found no separation of the two. She wrote often of her students, and her concern for her family back in the U.S. Admiration for the people of Shanghai and Taipei are also evident. Letters frequently touch on her health while abroad, her physical surroundings, a tight schedule of teaching and ministering, and Grace Baptist Church, which she founded.

Photographs complement many of the letters, especially those about Grace Baptist Church and its programs. Subjects are mainly people and scenes in Taipei, although a large number are unidentified. Small series of photos include those of her assistants, Lillian Lu and Daisy, students, portraits of her family, as well as many of Grace Baptist Church. Included also are photographs of various church and school groups.

There are two autograph books from Chinese friends; manuscript writings include four articles written for the church, including one about the University of Shanghai's president. Also in the collection is a file of miscellaneous materials including a report of the Yates Baptist Association, biographical information, several business cards, a pamphlet in Chinese, an invitation, and clippings.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Collection Details

Collection Number
Inabelle Graves Coleman papers
1942-1981, bulk 1952-1957
Coleman, Inabelle Graves
1.5 Linear Feet, 482 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

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More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Inabelle Graves Coleman Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Box 1

2. Photographs Series

1 folder
Inabelle Graves Coleman
Box 2
Margaret L. Coleman (sister)
Box 2
Ina Janett (Wilkerson) Coleman (mother)
Box 2
Henry Gordon Coleman (father)
Box 2
Grace Baptist Church, Taipei, Taiwan (Huai En T'ang, Taipei, Taiwan)
(1 folder)
Box 2
Grace Baptist Church[?], Taipei, Taiwan (Huai En T'ang[?], Taipei, Taiwan)
(1 folder)
Box 2
Lillian Lu
(1 folder)
Box 2
Box 2
Photograph greeting cards
Box 2
Famous places and leaders of Taiwan
Box 2
Mission Baptist Hospital
(1 folder)
Box 2
Church services [Taipei, Taiwan?]
Box 2
Miscellaneous (some of North Carolina)
Box 2
Miscellaneous (some of North Carolina)
(1 folder)
Box 2
The church that is in their house
Box 2
Glad tidings from Taiwan
Box 2
Missionaries international--are you?
Box 2
Word snap shots of president of University of Shanghai
Box 2
Autograph books
Box 2
Misc. Items
Box 2

Historical Note


Date Event(s)
1898 Born with twin sister, Jesablair, in Durham, N.C.
1918 Graduated from Woman's College in Greensboro, N.C., and became assistant principal of Creedmoor School and later principal of Northside School.
1926 Began full-time work for the Intermediate Training Union of First Baptist Church.
Started writing books and contributed regularly to Baptist publications.
1940-1943 As a contract teacher under the Southern Baptist Convention's Foreign Mission Board, she served as professor at the University of Shanghai, teaching journalism and English.
1943 Spent seven months in a Japanese internment camp.
Repatriated. Formally appointed a missionary of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
1946-1950 Returned to missionary work and teaching post at the University of Shanghai.
1952 After the Communist occupation of China, she transferred to Taipei, Taiwan, and taught at National Taiwan University, a government sponsored university.
1953 Helped found Grace Baptist Church in Taipei, Taiwan.
1959 After returning on furlough, she became ill and died in the United States.

Coleman worked as a school administrator and journalist before gaining employment with the Intermediate Training Union of the First Baptist Church. During these experiences, she continued writing for the Daily Greensboro News, and Baptist publications, as well as authoring her own books. Her background in writing led to an editorship of the Foreign Mission Magazinewhichtook her to Richmond, Virginia.

Later, while a professor in Shanghai, Coleman also became engaged in an active program of evangelism and social work. A request to the Foreign Mission Board of the denomination allowed her to remain in Shanghai during part of World War II. Upon repatriation in 1943, she went to Columbia University in New York, where she received her master's degree from the School of Philosophy, and completed additional graduate work. When conditions in China allowed, she returned to complete four more years at the University of Shanghai. In Taiwan, her teaching and evangelistic duties continued. She worked until a furlough in 1957.

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The Inabelle Graves Coleman Papers, 1942-1981 (bulk 1952-1957), were donated to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 1974 and 1982 by her sister, Margaret L. Coleman.

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Lisa Stark

Completed September 29, 1998