Yale Divinity School Library
Exhibits and Publications of the Yale Divinity School Library

The Centennial of the Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer Rebellion was a religious, anti-foreign movement in China that begin in early 1900 and led to the deaths of many Christians, both missionaries and Chinese converts. Members of this movement were called "Boxers" by Westerners because of their rituals of martial arts and calisthenics. They belonged to a secret society in northern China that believed that Western influences were destroying Chinese culture. The aim of the Boxers was to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and expel all foreigners and foreign influences from China.

The China Records Project Collection at the Yale Divinity School Library contains valuable documentation of the Boxer Rebellion among the papers of missionaries. In the Arthur Judson Brown Papers, for example, "Book VI' of Brown's 1901-1902 diary, was written during Brown's visit to China in the aftermath of the Boxers, and records what he saw at the Pao ting-fu mission that was devastated by the Boxers.

The papers of Dr. Irrenius J. Atwood include information about the Shansi Mission, an outgrowth of a "China Band" formed in the Oberlin Theological Seminary, 1879-80, incl. re. Boxer activities, and excerpts from the journal of Susan Rowena Bird, a missionary martyred at Taiku in 1900.

Shown below are some photographs and documents from the collections of the Yale Divinity School Library that illustrate the impact of the Boxer Rebellion on the missionary movement in China.

Yu-Hsien, called the "butcher of Shansi" by Westerners. He was the newly-appointed Viceroy of the Province of Shansi, where the Boxer Rebellion was centered.

Detail from a placard depicting the Boxer Rebellion, Arthur Judson Brown Papers, RG 2


More than 135 adult Protestant missionaries and fifty-three Western children were killed by the Boxers during 1900. Shown here are William Cooper and David Barrett, two China Inland Mission missionaries killed by the Boxers in July, 1900. Forty-seven of the eighty-eight China Inland Mission workers in Shansi were killed.


G. B. Farthing was an English Baptist missionary in Shansi province. He and his family were killed by the Boxers in 1900.


Building sandbagged to defend against Boxer attacks in Peking.


The home of missionary R. M. Mateer, which was destroyed by the Boxers.

© 2000 Yale University Library
Last modified: 28 August 2000
URL: http://divinity-adhoc.library.yale.edu/Exhibits/boxers.htm
Please send comments to: Martha Smalley.