Guide to the Charles Jones Soong Reference Collection, 1882-1995


Han Chiao-shun (Charles "Charlie" Jones Soong) was Trinity College's first international student. He was an American-trained missionary who became a successful business man and industrialist in Shanghai as well as patriarch of the influential Soong family. Collection contains correspondence, publications, clippings, and articles concerning Charles Jones Soong. Materials date from 1882-1995.

Collection Details

Record Group
Charles Jones Soong Reference collection
Duke University. University Archives
0.25 Linear Feet, 250 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

Collection contains correspondence, (notably between Charles Jones Soong and Tse Vung Soong (son); Franklin D. Roosevelt to Tse Vung Soong) publications, clippings, and articles concerning Charles Jones Soong. Most of the materials consist of photocopies of the originals and transcription is provided for select materials.

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Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], Charles Jones Soong Reference Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Materials sent from Clifford Feng (grandson of Tse Vung Soong and great-grandson of Charles J. Soong) to William E. King (Duke University Archivist), October 5, 1984 (with cover letter).
Box 1
Folder 1
C. J. Soong to Tse Vung Soong (son), May 3, 1915 (photocopy of original + transcription)
Box 1
C. J. Soong to Tse Vung Soong (son), August 6, 1915 (photocopy of original + transcription)
Box 1
Franklin D. Roosevelt to T. V. Soong, June 23, 1942 Includes June 18, 1942 letter from Arthur M. Harris of Durham, NC to FDR recounting some of C. J. Soong's Trinity College days. Includes T. V. Soong's response to FDR, June 25, 1942. (all are photocopies of originals)
Box 1
"Charles J. Soong and Captain Eric Gabrielson: A Footnote to World History" U. S. Coast Guard report, no date. 10 pages. The cover letter from USCG Captain Ellis Reed Hill to Dr. Meng Sze, Officer of Minister for Foreign Affairs (US), dates to April 16, 1943. Details Soong's service in the Coast Guard, 1879-1880 (pre-Trinity). (photocopies)
Box 1
"Little Known Facts About Well Known People: Madame Chiang Kai Shek" by Dale Carnegie. Broadcast by Central News Agency of China, February 23, 1943. 5 pages. Includes a May 10, 1943 cover letter from David Lu of Central News Agency of China to "Szeming".
Box 1
"Father and Mother Soong" by Mrs. Louise Roberts. Likely broadcast on National Broadcasting Company (NBC), no date. 4 pages. The cover letter from Jerome Bundsen, secretary to Mr. Upton Close, to T. V. Soong dates to June 26, 1942. (photocopies)
Box 1
Reviews, press releases, and articles regarding the publication of Sterling Seagrave's The Soong Dynasty (Harper and Row, 1985).
Box 1
Primary materials (all photocopied from originals in Trinity United Methodist Church:
Box 1
Folder 2
C. J. Soon to Miss Mattie, March 31, 1882. Comments on weather in Durham, upcoming commencement, and studying. Includes transcription.
Box 1
Charlie Soon to Mr. Southgate, October 7, 1886. Writing from Soochow, China. Comments on mission effort and war.
Box 1
Label, "Hammock made by Charlie Soon" describing hammock made in 1883.
Box 1
Minutes: Methodist Episcopal Church, South. North Carolina Conference. Hillsborough District Conference Minutes, 1882-1884, and Durham District Conference Minutes, 1885-1895. Volume F-2749, 4 pages. Pages 3-4 deal with Soong's arrival in North Carolina, conversion to Christianity, and move to Durham.
Box 1
Publications, arranged chronologically
Folder 3
"Will Visit This City: Facts Regarding Rev. Chas. J. Soon and His Daughter, Miss Alice", Durham Daily Sun, July 20, 1904.
Box 1
"The Romance of Charlie Soong", Duke Divinity School Bulletin, January 1942 (Vol. VI, No. 4). Pages 73-81.
Box 1
The Chiangs of China by Elmer T. Clark (New York and Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1943). Photocopies of first 2 chapters, "Charles Jones Soon in America" and "Charles Jones Soong in China". Pages 12-39.
Box 1
"Charles Jones Soong Memorial Building Dedicated", North Carolina Christian Advocate, November 5, 1942. Page 8.
Box 1
"The Soong Family Special Edition", North Carolina Christian Advocate, May 6, 1943 (Vol. 88, No. 18). Pages 1-20.
Box 1
Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, Howard L. Boormon, ed. (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1967-1971), Vol. III. Pages 137-153.
Box 1
The World of Time Inc.: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise (Vol. 2, 1941-1960) by Robert T. Elson (New York: Atheneum, 1973). Page 121-122.
Box 1
"Durham-By-The-Sea", Durham Morning Herald, January 30, 1976.
Box 1
"Widow of Sun Yat-Sen Honored", Durham Morning Herald, May 17, 1981.
Box 1
The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave (New York: Harper and Row, 1985). Prologue and first 2 chapters. Pages 1-69, 465-473. Includes family tree chart.
Box 1
"Madame Chiang honored", Raleigh News and Observer, July 27, 1995. Page 10A.
Box 1
"China article: check facts about Charles Soong's NC conversion" North Carolina Christian Advocate, December 19, 1995. Page 3. Letter to the editor.
Box 1
"A Gift that Blessed a Nation: The Story of General Carr and Charlie Soong" by Bishop Costen J. Harrell. Pamphlet published by the Methodist Church, no date.
Box 1
"History of Ann Street Methodist Church, Beaufort, North Carolina". Pamphlet, no date.
Box 1
Clippings, article fragments, notes, inventories of other holdings.
Box 1
Folder 4
Correspondence (copied from other collections), 1882-1942
Folder 5
[C. J. Soong?] to Miss Mattie [Southgate], February 22, 1882. Comments on past correspondence and a friend at Trinity College. Letter missing pages and signature.
Box 1
C. J. Soon to Golden [James Gordon Hackett], June 20, 1882. Comments on social life and the atmosphere at Trinity College during the summer.
Box 1
[Chevy?] to James A. Thomas, March 22, 1937. Comments on cancellation of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek's visit to the United States.
Box 1
Madame Chiang Kai-shek to Mr. James A. Thomas, June 1, 1937. Comments on the cancellation of Chiang's visit to the United States in spring 1937, her husband's health, and patriotism in China.
Box 1
James A. Thomas to Mr. A. S. Brower, June 28, 1937. Discusses gathering material about Charles Soong to present May-ling Soong Chiang in anticipation of a visit to Duke University.
Box 1
Executive Secretary [A. S. Brower] to Mr. James A. Thomas, June 30, 1937. Refers to a June 28, 1936 News and Observer article on Charles Soong as well as love letters to Miss Southgate.
Box 1
A. S. Brower to Mr. James A. Thomas, July 1, 1937. Letter accompanying copies of June 28, 1936 News and Observer article on Charles Soong.
Box 1
James A. Thomas to Mr. A. S. Brower, July 1, 1937. Recommendations on information to provide May-ling Soong Chiang about Charles Soong's connection with Trinity College.
Box 1
J. G. Hackett to T. V. Soong, December 29, 1941. Comments on Hackett's friendship with Charles Soong during their time at Trinity College.
Box 1
Jerome Dowd to Miss Kate, December 13, 1942. Mentions Dowd's friendship with Soong at Trinity College and the chapter that Dowd wrote about Soong in his "Life of Braxton Craven."
Box 1
Clippings (copied from other collections), 1936-1943
Folder 6
"Chinese Lad Left Trinity College to Found Own Dynasty", Raleigh News and Observer, June 28, 1936.
Box 1
"Link North Carolinians to China's Great Leader", [unidentified newspaper], circa 1937-1938.
Box 1
"When Charlie Soong Paid a Visit to Washington, N.C.", Raleigh News and Observer, February 28, 1943.
Box 1

Historical Note

Han Chiao-shun (Charles "Charlie" Jones Soong) was Trinity College's first international student. Born in the Wench'ang district of the island of Hainan, off the coast of the Kwangtung province of China in 1866, he was the youngest of three boys. Around 1875, he was sent off to the East Indies with one of his brothers to find work. Three years later he was adopted by a childless maternal uncle and taken to the United States where his name was changed to Soon Chai-Jui.

Upon arriving in the United States, the young Soong worked in his uncle's tea and silk shop in Boston. He then became a cabin boy in the Coast Guard where he met Captain Eric Gabrielson. Gabrielson, a devout Methodist, talked to Song about Christianity and took him to church whenever they were in port. On November 7, 1880 Charles Jones Soon (the final "g" was not added until his return to China in 1886) was baptized at the Fifth Street Methodist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Soong, who had expressed interest in securing an education and returning to China as a missionary, received aid from General Julian S. Carr of Durham who financed his education at Trinity College, Duke University's forerunner. Soong spent close to two years (April 1881-fall 1882) at Trinity as a "special and preparatory student" where he studied under Dr. Braxton Craven, Trinity's president. In the fall of 1882 he entered the theological seminary of Vanderbilt University.

In January 1886, Soong arrived in Shanghai as a missionary under the auspices of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South). Soong continued to serve as a missionary until 1892 when he resigned and went into private enterprise. Although, no longer a missionary Soong continued to be a "devout and active Christian" founding the YMCA in China, working with the American Bible Society in Shanghai, teaching Sunday school classes, and providing generous financial support.

In addition to being a lay leader and a businessman, Charles Jones Soong and his family are often regarded as "republican China's first family." Although the exact extents of his participation in the revolutionary movement are undocumented, he was known to be an ardent supporter and close friend of Sun Yat-sen. His daughter Ch'ing-ling married Sun Yat-sen. His remaining children (all educated in the United States) continued to play a role in Chinese history. One daughter married Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. The third daughter married the Chinese finance minister (said to be the richest man in the world). One of Soong's sons became the Chinese prime minister, another was chairman of the bank of Canton, and the third became an international financier.

Related Material

  • Soong, Charles Jones. Papers, 1884-1887. (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. )

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


This collection was compiled from a variety of sources by the University Archives staff for use in reference and research.

Processing Information

Processed by Archives Staff, July 2004

Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, December 2007

Updated February 2014