Gell Documents

Ref: MS 301

Title: Gell Documents

Documents relating to the career and life in China during the period 1930-1945 of Mary Prowse Gell, hospital doctor and lecturer in medicine

Dates: 1930-2000
Level: Fonds
Extent: 1 box
Name of creator: Mary Prowse Gell

Administrative / biographical history:

The collection consists of a small number of documents relating to Dr Gell's career in China, during which she experienced the Japanese invasion of that country and was subsequently interned there by the Japanese during World War II. The documents consist largely of contemporary letters and her own eyewitness accounts.

Mary Prowse Gell (1894-1978), MBChB, was born 16th April 1894 and educated at Douglas, Isle of Man. She went on to study medicine at the University of Sheffield where she graduated M.B.Ch.B in 1922. The Medical Directory shows that, after living in Chesterfield for a time, she had by 1927 moved to China as Medical Officer at St. Agatha's Hospital, Ping-Yin, Shantung, North China, from where she subsequently moved to University Hospital, Tsinan in the same province, becoming Associate Professor in the University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. A letter dated February 1931 suggests a missionary motivation for her move abroad, and gives a detailed account of her work assisting refugees during severe floods. Later accounts after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1932 which led to the Sino-Japanese war describe life in Tsinan during the Japanese advance in the region, and, following the outbreak of war between Japan and Great Britain during World War II, of conditions during her internment as a civilian.

Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, following which event the Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists began, Dr Gell returned to Britain where she settled in London, becoming Secretary to the Medical Missions Department of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In the mid-1960s she returned to live in the Isle of Man, and in 1978 she died aged 84.

Itemised list of documents
301/1. Photograph. Dr Gell with three nurses in China. c.1930
301/2. Letter. Mary Gell to Rachel Powell. 3 Feb 1931
301/3. Letter. Mary Gell to 'Everybody'. 21 Feb 1938
301/4. Letter. Eileen Smyly to Rachel Powell. 12 Nov 1942
301/5. Memoir. By Mary Gell. 8 Dec 1941-14 Dec 1945 (21 leaves)
Narrative of events following Japan’s entry into WWII and internment
301/6. Memoir. By Mary Gell. 8 Dec 1941-6 Oct 1945 (10 leaves)
An account of a doctor’s work in an internment camp
301/7. Obituary notice. Mary Gell, died 24 Oct [1978]
301/8. Letter. John Powell to Claire Greener (University of Sheffield Alumni Relations Office). 27 Oct 2000
301/9. Document. University of Sheffield personal record for M.P Gell. (copy). c.1922

  • Related collections: Kennedy Papers, Kennedy Collection
  • Source: Donated by John Powell (LL.B. 1948) via the University of Sheffield Alumni Office
  • System of arrangement: Numerical
  • Subjects: China – History – 1900-1949; Japan – History – Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945; Medicine – China – 20th century
  • Names: Gell, Mary Prowse (1894-1978?); University of Sheffield – School of Medicine; Cheeloo University, Tsinan (China)
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: None
  • Copyright: According to document
  • Finding aids: Listed above