Archival Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

William Henry Donald papers, 1924-1946 

Creator: 
Donald, William Henry, 1875-1946
Phys. Desc: 
0.25 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)
Call Number: 
MS#0353
Location: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

William Henry Donald (widely known as Duan’na, 端纳) was born in Lithgow, Australia, 1875. Mr. Donald went to Hong Kong in 1903 as a journalist for the Hong Kong Daily and China Mail (德臣報). He soon became the Managing Editor of China Mail and covered mainly events in China. He later also became an editor at the Far Eastern Review based in Shanghai where he reportedly exposed Japan’s Twenty-One Demands on China to the western presses. In 1920, he resigned from the Far Eastern Review and began working at the new Bureau of Economic Information in Beijing. He associated closely with Sun Yat-sen and the Soong family. He was the adviser to the Young Marshal, Zhang, Xueliang. During the Xi’an Incident in 1936, Madame Chiang sent Donald as a mediator to negotiate for Chiang Kai-shek’s release. Donald successfully convinced the Young Marshal to release Chiang. He later became an advisor to Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang. Donald left China in 1940 and toured the Pacific Islands. Subsequent to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was arrested in Manila by the Japanese army and held at the internment camp in 1941. He was release three years later along with over 2,000 POWs and civilian prisoners during the U.S. Raid on Los Banos. He briefly visited New York City in 1945 after his release. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1946. He returned to Shanghai where he was treated at the Country Hospital (華東醫院) and died on November 9th, 1946.

Scope and Contents

The William Henry Donald papers primarily consist of correspondence between William Henry Donald (1875- 1946) and his friend, Harold K. Hochschild (1892-1981) where he described about his work in China, his involvement in the Xi’an Incident, and his life later in the Pacific Islands and return to China. Other materials in the collection include biographical information, a sketch of Donald, and news clippings about Donald. The William Henry Donald papers consist of correspondence primarily between William Henry Donald (1875- 1946) and Harold K. Hochschild (1892-1981), Donald’s long-time friend with personal and business interest in China who was also the Executive of the American Metal Company in New York, dating from 1924 to 1946. Other correspondent also include Li, Kuo Ching, a Chinese businessman in New York City, Gertrude Sergievsky, and Herbert Berridge Elliston. The correspondence in the collection focuses on Donald’s experience and his knowledge of Chinese politics as well as his personal relations to prominent Chinese Republican officials during his life in China. The highlight of Donald’s letters is the one which he wrote on January 17th, 1937, where he described his role as a mediator during the Xi’an Incident (西安事變). The papers also include a drawing of Donald and other biographical materials and news clippings about Donald’s death as well as his role in Chinese politics during the Chinese Republican era.