The China Society of Southern California

Fostering friendship, understanding and appreciation

between China and America since 1935


Old China Hands

Old China Hands are foreigners who lived and worked in China in the 19th and 20th century. Many of them were stateless refugees. Others were missionaries, visiting professors, businessmen, etc. The Chinese government welcomed their presence and did not have an immigration policy. Many of them prospered in the friendly environment. The last of them left China shortly after the establishment of The People's Republic of China in 1949. Their stories are part of recent Chinese history. Professor Robert Gohstand, one of the Old China Hands established an archive in the Oviatt Library of California State University at Northridge in 1996.

From the website of California State University at Northridge, Oviatt Library, Old China Hands Archive

 "The Old China Hands Archives was established in the fall of 1996 by Professor Robert Gohstand to preserve and publicize the heritage of the many people from other countries and cultures who have resided and worked in China. The Archives holds a growing collection of materials generously donated by former Old China Hands, including correspondence, diaries, photographs, postcards, books, periodicals, newspapers, and other materials."


"Holdings in the Old China Hands Archives document the varied experiences of foreigners living in China during the early 20th century. Whether employees of the government of China, business persons, missionaries, maritime or military servicepersons, refugees from Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, civil administrators, or journalists, their documentation of cultural interactions, international travel, local economies, and their own personal experiences provide a fascinating window into a turbulent phase of China's history."