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William Warder Cadbury papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1160

Scope and Contents

The papers of William Warder Cadbury consist of correspondence during the period of 1908 to 1950, documents relating to Cadbury’s organizational affiliations, photographs, and material written by and about Cadbury. Cadbury’s principal correspondent was Elizabeth B. Jones. Other correspondents include Rufus Jones, Thomas Wistar, Jr., S.C. Chen, and James Henry.

Cadbury writes about his desire to become a medical missionary in China in 1908; his interest in founding a Christian medical school in China; his impact teaching Christianity to Chinese students; his life and work in China; Japan’s war on China; the work of his wife, Catharine Cadbury, supervising many local schools; reference to his internment by the Japanese army; the liberation of Canton (Guangzhou) in 1949; and the orphans of Canton (Guangzhou).

There is a book of course notes prepared by William Warder Cadbury for a course on comparative religion, published letters, and other material by and about Cadbury, as well as photographs, primarily those depicting Cadbury from infancy to old age. There are documents produced by and about organizations with which Cadbury was involved in the period 1923-1951, including Canton Hospital, Canton International Red Cross, Direct China Relief Incorporated, Kwangtung International Relief Committee, Canton Committee for Justice to China, and the China Medical Missionary Association.


  • Creation: 1877-1959


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical note

William Warder Cadbury (1877-1959), a quaker, was the son of Joel and Anna Kaighn Cadbury. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was a member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for the Western District (now Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting). He graduated from William Penn Charter School in 1894, received a B.A. and M.A. from Haverford College in 1898 and 1899, respectively, earned an M.D. from University of Pennsylvania in 1902, and received an honorary Sc.D. from Haverford College in 1936. He married (1) Sarah I. Manatt in 1911 (d. 1912) and (2) Catharine Balderston Jones in 1917, with whom he had three daughters.

Cadbury served as resident physician at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia from 1903 to 1905, and went abroad for graduate study in Vienna in 1905, before returning to teach pathology and pharmacology at University of Pennsylvania from 1906 to 1907 and to work as a pathologist at St. Mary’s Hospital from 1906 to 1909.

Cadbury's decision to take up a medical missionary post in China was made in late 1908. In 1909, he took up a professorship at Canton Christian College (later Lingnan University) in Canton (Guangzhou), China, and from 1909 to 1941 was a medical missionary supported by some members of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and the Cadbury Fund that was created to assist his work. (The Canton Medical Missionary Society which had oversight of Canton Hospital transferred the care of the hospital to the Board of Directors of Lingnan University in 1930.) He became Superintendent of Canton Hospital in 1930, and was also vice-president of the Chinese Medical Association from 1935 to 1937 and Canton chairman of the International Red Cross from 1938 to 1941. In about 1924, General Lei Fuk Lam gave his son, James Cadbury Lei, to William Warder Cadbury in order for him to learn American culture. General Lei contributed funds to construct a small hospital and clinic on the Lingnan campus, operated under Dr. Cadbury's direction and later moved to Canton Hospital.

During World War II, William Warder Cadbury and his wife were interned by the Japanese from 1941 to 1943, although they had considerable freedom until February, 1943, when they were removed to a camp in Canton (Guangzhou). Upon their release, they returned to the United States for two years, where Cadbury worked at Friends Hospital. Cadbury resumed his position in Canton (Guangzhou) from 1945 until 1949, when he and Catherine were forced out of China by the Communist government. The Cadburys then returned to New Jersey for the following 10 years. Cadbury sat on the Board of Lingnan University for a part of this time, as well as serving as an honorary curator of ferns at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

During his life, Cadbury was the author of 150 medical articles, 230 articles on religion and other topics, and a book on the history of Canton Hospital, At the Point of a Lancet, which he wrote in 1935 with Mary Hoxie Jones, his neice. He had an avid interest in orchids and created an orchid garden at his residence in China. "Dr. Cadbury represented two old but enduring traditions: the physicianbotanist and the Quaker naturalist…Perhaps, with renewed friendship between China and the United States, an American orchidist will visit Canton some day and find Dr. Cadbury's manuscript in the care of Chinese botanists. It would please him to know that his study of orchids, like his medical teaching, has bridged the gap between peoples."

Information from Dictionary of Quaker Biography, a compilation of Quaker biographies in typescript form located at Haverford College and Friends House, London, from article by Howard P. Wood and from internal evidence


1.35 linear ft. (2 boxes, 1 volume, 1 tube)

Language of Materials



The papers of William Warder Cadbury, who was a Quaker medical missionary in China during the first half of the 20th century.


Arranged in four series.


The William Warder Cadbury papers were donated to Special Collections, Haverford College in 1980 by Mary Hoxie Jones.

Related Materials

  • William Warder and Catherine Cadbury papers (HC.MC.1192)
  • Jones-Cadbury family papers (HC.MC.1172)

Processing Information

Original processing information unknown. Finding aid revised and collection reboxed by Seabrook Jeffcoat; completed February, 2020.

William Warder Cadbury papers, 1877-1959
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • February, 2020: Revised and box listed added by Seabrook Jeffcoat
  • April, 2022: by Nathaniel Rehm-Daly, Harmful Language Revision Project

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