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For Margaret Moninger—a brilliant, fun-loving, and dedicated young woman from Iowa—a career as a missionary in China promised adventure and the chance for responsibility and authority denied most American women of her time. In 1915 she went as a Presbyterian missionary to Hainan Island, China’s southernmost territory, where she remained until repatriated in 1942.

During her years in Hainan, Moninger played many roles: she headed a girls’ mission school, wrote scholarly articles on the Miao aborigines, collected botanical specimens for scientists at home, and served as mission treasurer. She was responsible for communications with American diplomatic personnel and was one of only six women appointed to the Presbyterian China Council, which set mission policies for all of China.

Kathleen Lodwick’s biography, the first devoted to a single woman missionary, is based primarily on the long, newsy letters Moninger wrote her family every Sunday of her missionary years, and on those of a fellow missionary. It will be of interest to scholars in Asian studies, religious studies, and anthropology.

Kathleen L. Lodwick is associate professor of history at Pennsylvania State University, Allentown.

"A wealth of information about the effects of opium addiction, the moral crusade against the drug and its purveyors, and the actions of several governments and many individuals that eventually led to the suppression of a practice that harmed the Chinese nation and poisoned its relations with the Western world."—Journal of Asian Studies

"Lodwick has deftly edited Moninger's letters, written to family members every Sunday for the twenty-three years she lived on Hainan from 1915 to 1942, into an engaging narrative describing the coming of age of a woman who served as school principal, amateur botanist, publisher of scholarly articles, and secretary of the Presbyterian Council."—History of Education Quarterly

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Margaret Moninger, China, Women missionaries, Presbyterians, Hainan, Presbyterian missionaries


History of Religion

Educating the Women of Hainan: The Career of Margaret Moninger in China, 1915-1942
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