Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)DA26
TitlePapers of Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell and his son Dr. John Preston Maxwell
Extent16 boxes
Datec 1851-c 1959
DescriptionPersonal and professional papers of Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell Sr. (1836-1921) and his son Dr. John Preston Maxwell (1871-1961), medical missionaries in Taiwan and China; including correspondence of Mary Maxwell (nee Goodall; wife of James Laidlaw Maxwell), Lilly Maxwell (nee Isaacson; wife of John Preston Maxwell), and various personal and professional acquaintances; contains reports, printed materials, journal notes, photographs, albums and watercolour sketches; relating to medical missionary work in China and Taiwan from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.

16 manuscript boxes containing a total of 2440 items of correspondence, journal and journal notes, photographs, printed material and reports, scrapbook, albums, and sketches.
ArrangementCorrespondence is arranged by correspondent, thereunder chronologically
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered readers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Special Collections.
Access StatusOpen
Physical DescriptionNotes on any previous storage conditions are included with the physical description
Administrative HistoryJames Laidlaw Maxwell Sr. (1836-1921)
James Laidlaw Maxwell Sr.was born in Scotland on 18 March 1836. His parents' address on his birth certificate is given as 200 Canongate, Edinburgh. He studied medicine and took his degree in Scotland. He worked in London at Brompton Hospital and in Birmingham at Birmingham General Hospital. He was also an Elder in the Broad Street Presbyterian Church. He later became the pioneer medical missionary for the English Presbyterian Missionary Society, working in China on the Island of Formosa. He retired in London where he formed and became the first secretary of the Medical Missionary Association. He married Mary Anne Goodall (d Jan, 1918) of Handsworth on 7 April 1868 in Hong Kong. Maxwell died in March 1921 and is buried in Plaistow Cemetery, Burnt Ash Lane, Bromley. He had two sons, John Preston and James Laidlaw Jr., both of whom also became medical missionaries.

John Preston Maxwell (1871-1961), obstetric missionary
Acknowledgment: This text (with minor amendment) was supplied by the archivist at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
John Preston Maxwell was born on 5 December 1871 in Birmingham, where his father Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell, practised medicine. He attended University College School, Hampstead and University College London, before taking his clinical training at St Bartholomew's Hospital, from which he emerged with a gold medal in obstetrics and went on to work as a resident at St Bartholomew's. Then, following his devout Presbyterian faith, Maxwell became a Medical missionary for the English Presbyterian Church and, in about 1898, went to Fujian in China, where he spent the majority of his professional life. He specialised in obstetrics and was a leading authority on foetal osteomalacia. He became a Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Union Medical College in Beijing (a teaching hospital funded by the Rockerfeller Foundation), President of the Chinese Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and worked as secretary to the medical committee of the Lord Mayor's Fund for the Relief of Distress in China. He was awarded the Army and Navy Medal by the Chinese Republic and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1929.

Maxwell returned to England at some point after 1935 (possibly as a result of the invasion of Beijing by the Japanese in 1937) and lived at Brinkley in Cambridgeshire. He was elected consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the nearby Newmarket General Hospital. He married (Edith) Lilly Isaacson in 1899 (who, as a proficient artist, illustrated some of her husband's research papers) and they had one daughter, Marjorie (Steen, nee Marjorie Gordon Maxwell, b 1908). John Maxwell died suddenly near his home on 25 July 1961, at the age of 89, his wife having predeceased him

'On Food Deficiency Disease Simulating Pregnancy Toxæmia' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 30 (1), March 1923). pp. 34-37.
'A Tubo-ovarian Abscess containing a Living Ascaris Lumbricoides' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 31 (1), March 1924). pp. 70-72.
'Osteomalacia in China' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 32 (3), September 1925). pp. 433-473.
'Osteomalacia in China' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 33 (2), June 1926). pp. 299.
'Obstetrics in China in the 13th Century' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 34 (3) Autumn 1927). pp. 481-497.
'Further Studies in Adult Rickets (Osteomalacia) and Foetal Rickets' (Proceedings of the Royal Medical Society of Medicine, 28 October 1934). pp. 265-300.
'A Case of Double Vulva with Haematometra on one side' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 46 (1), February 1939). pp. 71-73.
'Pregnancy Associated with Congenital Cystic Disease of the Lung' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 51 (1), February 1944). pp. 42-43.
'Fibroadenoma of the Cervix with Adenomyosis of the Uterine Body' (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire, 56 (2), April 1949). pp. 246-448.

Twenty-Sixth Annual Report of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG, London: 1954). p. 15; obituary notice 'British Medical Journal' 12 August 1961. pp. 457-458; Obituary notice 'British Medical Journal' 26 August 1961. pp. 590-591; Peel, John 'The Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 1929-1969' (Heinemann, London: 1976). pp. 282-283. Additional information about birth and death details of Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell was provided in 2009 by a researcher (details available on the deposit file)
Custodial HistoryThe Maxwell papers were presented as a gift to the Selly Oak Colleges Central Library [later forming part of the Orchard Learning Resources Centre] by a member of the Steen family in 1982. In 2000, the custodianship of all archive collections held at the Orchard Learning Resources Centre was transferred to the University of Birmingham

Cataloguing of the papers was undertaken by the Special Collections Department, University of Birmingham, in March 2000, as a result of the University of Birmingham's relationship with Selly Oak Colleges endowment trust
Archival NoteCatalogued in 2000; subsequent amendments made to the catalogue in respect of the name of John Preston Maxwell in November 2006: he had been incorrectly cited as James Preston Maxwell and all references have been corrected
CopiesThe photographs and scrapbook in the Papers of John Preston Maxwell (DA26/2/2 and DA26/2/4) were digitized in September 2014 for 'Historical Photographs of China', a collaborative project between the University of Bristol, University of Lincoln, Institut d'Asie Oriental and TGE-Adonis. Project Director: Professor Robert Bickers, Research Director, Dept of History, University of Bristol; Project Manager: Jamie Carstairs, University of Bristol. The images are available online through the website of 'Historical Photographs of China' at
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library: Special Collections also holds the Papers of J. Preston Maxwell (GB 0150 MS862) and approximately 380 printed books and pamphlets, mostly written in Chinese, and approximately 50 sheets of music; to be catalogued separately with printed material and music
Associated MaterialsAssociated material may be found at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in the Presbyterian Church of England (now The United Reformed Church) Foreign Missions Committee archives.


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