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Andrew H. Woods papers

Identifier: BMC-M78

Scope and Contents

The Andrew Henry Woods papers house the personal and professional papers of Andrew Woods, physician and neurologist. The collection, which ranges from 1885-1956, contains journals, photographs, correspondence, publications, and papers.

The collection is organized into six series: “Series I: Journals,” “Series II: Photographs and Postcards,” “Series III: Correspondence,” “Series IV: Publications,” “Series V: Papers,” and “Series VI: Oversized Papers.”

“Series I: Journals” consists of the 25 journals that Andrew Woods wrote over his lifetime. The early journals (1885-1890) are small calendars with a few notes written almost every day. He writes less frequent, but longer entries in the journals after 1890. The journal from 1891-1904 records Woods’s life at Washington & Lee, his experiences teaching at private schools in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, his time in medical school, his marriage to Fanny Sinclair, his journey to what he refers to as Canton—Guangzhou—and his initial experiences in China. The loose journal from 1905-1914 records his experience teaching and practicing medicine in Guangzhou, his work as an intern at the University of Pennsylvania clinic and the decision to return to Guangzhou. The next journal, from 1915-1918, describe his medical observations as an army physician. From 1918-1928 he records his experiences at the Peking Union Medical College. The 1929-1945 and 1946-1956 journals describe his personal life and psychiatric work in Iowa, as well as his retirement. Additional journals include records of payments and finances, logs of letters written, a dental record, a medical log from Guangzhou, an address book and notes on books and guests. There is also a partially filled notebook of minutes from the Peking American Girl Scouts Committee written by Fanny Sinclair Woods (1923-1926). Additionally, Thomas Sinclair wrote two stories: “Across the Continent June-September 1920” and “Sightseeing around Peking” (includes pictures).

“Series II: Photographs and Postcards” includes nine albums, many loose photos, postcards and two framed portraits of Elsie and Cortlandt Hodge. Most of the albums are photos taken in China, but a few are from family trips to Iowa and France. They include family photographs of travel and life in Guangzhou and Beijing, students and teachers from the Canton Christian College and Peking Union Medical College and other American families in China. There are also photos of the Sinclair family, including Elsie. There are four folders of blank postcards by Mei Li Photography in Peking [Beijing], specifically of the Temple of Heaven, the Western Hills of Beijing, the Summer Palace and the Winter Palace. The loose photographs include family photos of the Woods and Sinclair families, sightseeing in China and later group family photos from the 1930s or 1940s.

“Series III: Correspondence” is organized into 12 folders according to correspondent. Most of the letters were sent to and saved by Agnes Sinclair (Fanny’s Sister). A few letters were sent to Agnes from her friend Mary Hoxie Jones in the 1950s which were originally from Elsie Sinclair to Emma Cadbury (Mary’s aunt). The letters were written by Elsie while in Paotingfu. They discuss her daily life and struggles living in China as a missionary during the Boxer Rebellion, or Yihetuan Movement. Elsie also wrote a few letters to her siblings Agnes, Amy and Rob Sinclair.

The rest of the correspondence is between Agnes and her mother, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, her aunt Fanny, her cousin St. Clair Stevenson and her friends from Bryn Mawr. Agnes also saved many letters from her brother-in-law Andrew Woods while he was in China, both before and after he married her sister Fanny. She collected a few letters to her brother Rob Sinclair and his children Mary and Tom, whom she took care of after their mother’s death. Many of the letters to the Sinclair grandchildren (the nieces and nephews of Andrew and Fanny Woods—Mary, John, Tom, Carol and Elsie) were sent to them while they were all together in Iowa or on vacation in Wisconsin. The Sinclair and the Woods children spent many summers together in Iowa and their correspondence was saved by their Aunt Agnes. The letters from Agnes’s Bryn Mawr friends are all condolence letters concerning the death of her sister Elsie in 1900.

“Series IV: Publications” consists of miscellaneous publications and articles written by Woods. Woods published 45 articles between 1908 and 1948. The early articles discuss medical practice in China. After 1928, he wrote about psychiatric and neurological diseases and practice in Iowa, and occasionally China.

“Series V: Papers” was collected and organized by Woods during his time in Iowa City. Most papers are from the late 1940s and 50s after his retirement. The papers contain several boxes of folders containing letters to and from friends and family, letters and information about civic matters in Iowa City, and letters and newspaper clippings concerning the improvement of Iowa state psychiatric hospitals.

“Series VI: Oversized Papers” contains assorted clippings and notes that Woods collected about various topics (Soutter family letters, notes from books, reports on hospitals and zoning commissions) and a few letters from former friends and colleagues in China. Series VI, Oversized Papers, This box contains diplomas, medical licenses and certificates for A.H. Woods and Fanny Woods, photographs and sketches by Margaret Woods (Keith), a few loose photographs of Bryn Mawr, and Soutter family trees. Many of the photographs by Margaret Woods (Keith) are from the Exhibition in the First Annual University of Iowa Salon of Photographic Art. The others are of Bryn Mawr College, of “Natural Bridges” in Utah, and of Iowa City.

Woods was a neurologist who contributed over forty papers to the field, and who practiced across the United States, as well as in Guangzhou, China. These papers evidence his long career in medicine and his interest in cross-cultural relations. The collection would be of value to those interested in Woods, 20th century neurology and psychiatry practices, and Western medicine in China during the early twentieth century. Researchers interested in this material should note that there are further Andrew Woods materials in the Katherine Woods Papers.


  • Creation: 1885 - 1956


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

The Andrew H. Woods Papers are the physical property of Bryn Mawr College Special Collections. Literary Rights, including copyright, belong to the authors' legal heirs and assigns.

Biographical / Historical

Andrew H. Woods (1872-1956) grew up in Martinsburg, West Virginia, where his father was a Presbyterian pastor. He attended Washington & Lee and graduated in 1893. He taught at private high schools in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts until he won a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Department. After he graduated from UPenn, Woods accepted a position in Guangzhou, China as the vice-president of the newly established Canton Christian College, which was later renamed Lingnan University. Woods met Fanny Sinclair, a member of Bryn Mawr’s class of 1901, in July 1899 at a convention in Northfield before he left for China. Her sister, Elsie Sinclair, had graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1897, and was living in Taiyuan (then referred to as Pao-ting-fu by Westerners) with her husband, Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Hodge as missionaries. In 1899, Woods left for China. Before he reaching Guangzhou (he first stopped in England, Constantinople and India), he learned that Elsie Sinclair (Hodge) and her husband had been killed during the Yihetuan Movement/Boxer Rebellion in 1900. In 1902, Woods returned to America to marry Fanny Sinclair. Although the college had temporarily relocated to Macau, Woods stayed in Guangzhou and worked at the hospital. Their first son, Thomas Sinclair Woods was born in 1907. Shortly after, the family moved to Bryn Mawr. Woods worked in the University of Pennsylvania clinic and at the Philadelphia General Hospital as the Assistant Neurologist and a teacher.

The family, which now included Francis Marion Woods (1908-2000) and twins, Margaret Woods (Keith) (1910-2001) and Janet Woods (Dickey) (1910-2005), moved back to Guangzhou in 1912, after the dethronement of the Qing Dynasty, in order to help stabilize Canton College. Andrew and Fanny Wood’s fifth child, Robert Pirie Woods was born in 1914. In February 1917, Andrew Woods returned to the United States to teach neurology to Army Physicians at UPenn, serve as head of the Division for Nerve Wounds in Bordeaux, and work in U.S. Army hospitals. The rest of the Woods family remained in Iowa with Fanny Sinclair Woods’ brother’s family.

After the war, the Rockefeller Foundation offered Woods a position as head of the Neurological department at the Peking Union Medical College, where he worked from 1920-1928. Finally, the family settled in Iowa City in 1929 at their home “Honglok” on the Iowa River. Woods took charge of the Iowa State Psychopathic Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa. During his time in Iowa, he became very active in civic matters in Iowa as well as the improvement of Iowa psychiatric hospitals. He also wrote many scientific papers (1908-1948) on neurology, psychology and medical practice in China and the United States.

Woods retired from the University of Iowa in July of 1941, but continued a private practice until 1952, when Fanny Woods’s health deteriorated. In 1953, he sold “Honglok,” and moved to Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, which was close to his son Dr. Francis Woods. Fanny Sinclair Woods died on March 4, 1954. Woods married Elizabeth Faries (Bryn Mawr 1912) in 1955. Shortly after, on November 5, 1956, he died in Newton, Massachusetts after a car accident.

Fanny Sinclair Woods was the fifth of six children: Jack Sinclair, Elsie Sinclair (Hodge), Rob Sinclair, Amy Sinclair and Agnes Maitland Sinclair (Vincent). The children were very close, and frequently wrote to one another. They also wrote to their mother, Caroline Soutter Sinclair (Lele) and their mother’s sister, Great Aunt Fanny Soutter often. Fanny Woods’s father, Thomas Sinclair (1842-1881), was born in Belfast, Ireland. Thomas Sinclair moved to New York in 1862 and started a meat packing business, T. M. Sinclair & Co, in 1871 in Cedar Rapids. He died in an accident at the meat packing plant in 1881. The Sinclair mansion, “Fairhome,” now “Brucemore,” still stands in Cedar Rapids.

Agnes Sinclair (Vincent) (1880-1962), Fanny’s younger sister, also attended Bryn Mawr and graduated in 1903. At Bryn Mawr, she played on the basketball team and was the President of the Christian Union. After her brother’s wife died, she went to live with his family and take care of his four children in Cedar Rapids. She married Dr. Howell Vincent in 1924 and they moved to Beijing where he taught at Peking University. They divorced in 1948. Agnes died in 1962 in Cedar Rapids. Margaret Soutter Woods (Keith) (1910-2001) and Janet McCleery Woods (Dickey) (1910-2005), or “the twins,” also attended Bryn Mawr where they both majored in archaeology and graduated in 1932. They both attended graduate school at Radcliffe for anthropology. After Radcliffe, Margaret became interested in photography and worked as the expedition photographer in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico and Turkey. She married Gordon Keith in 1938 and lived in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania with her family. After her husband retired, the couple spent two years in Beirut, Lebanon. Margaret Woods Keith died in 2001. Janet married Parker Dickey in 1935. In 1946, they moved to Colombia with their four children. After Parker retired in 1875, the couple traveled in South America and Nepal. Janet Woods Dickey died in 2005.


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Andrew H. Woods (1872 – 1956) became vice president of Canton College in Guangzhou, China in 1899. He maintained his association with Canton Christian College throughout the Boxer Rebellion, or Yihetuan Movement, and the end of the Qing dynasty. Woods moved back and forth between China and the United States with his wife, Fanny Sinclair, who graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1901. In 1929, the couple and their children settled in Iowa. In Iowa, Woods worked as a professor and practitioner of neurology and psychology. Andrew H. Woods’ papers include diaries which describe his personal life and professional life in China and in the United States, photographs and postcards, much of Agnes Sinclair’s personal correspondence, his articles, and various papers.

Andrew H. Woods Papers, 1885-1956
Margaret Fraser, Mae Carlson, Cassidy Gruber Baruth
2018 February 12
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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