Me-Iung Ting x1916

[Studio Portrait]
Image courtesy of
the Library of Congress

Me-Iung Ting x1916
Address in 1937: 230 London Road Tientsin China
MD 1920 University of Michigan
intern 1921 Womans Hospital and Infants Home Detroit
fellow 1929-1930 University of Michigan
medical director 1922-?? Tientsin China

All information from One Hundred Year Biographical Directory of Mount Holyoke College 1837-1937, Bulletin Series 30, no. 5; published and compiled by the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts

The following came via Me-Iung Ting's great-niece Evelyn Kay Ting, who contacted me after these letters went online in 2006. This is what she knew about her great aunt.

She completed McTyeire High School in Shanghai and then apparently went to work in Nanjing to assist a Dr. Li Yuin Tsao who had been several years ahead of her at McTyeire and just returned from her medical training in the US. Adeline Yeh Mahs (Fallen Leaves) book stated that she ran away when my grandfather betrothed her to a sickly, older friend of his. Mah also mentioned that as a child she was taught to look up to Dr. Ting as an example of what women could do in China.

When I asked if they knew about her, a few older family members concurred that she had "run away to the missionary's and they helped her get to the US." More likely it was Dr. Li. Some of this is documented in a small book called Dr Li Yuin Tsao: called an chosen (a memorial book by Mary McLean which also contains 2 letters from my aunt and some additional information). Me-Iung Ting ended up at Mount Holyoke where she graduated before 1920 and went on to University of Michigan Medical School. She was the recipient of something called a "Barbour" scholarship, designated for Asian women studying medical arts. The Barbour is still funding Asian women at Michigan.Three of my aunts and second cousins followed MI's footsteps through Mount Holyoke & University of Michigan Medical.

She cut short her post MD training and returned to China to assist Dr. Li in 1922. Dr Li had taken over Peiyang Women's hospital in Tientsin. Li was apparently ill and had tapped my great aunt to help her. The family says aunt ran one hospital for rich women and used the money to fund the hospital for poor women, which I assume to be Peiyang. She started her independent work around 1925. Over the years, my sisters and I have met a number of people from Tientsin who said "your aunt delivered me in China". Most recently William Liu who wrote with Eleanor Cooper "Grace: An American Woman in China, 1934-1974."

She practiced in Tientsin for many more years, summering at her house in Beidahe. Articles identify her as superintendent at Peiyang during that time. I've seen a couple of accounts of her stubborness in recognizing the Japanese during the occupation (including in Torchbearers in China, by Basil Joseph Mathews; Arthur Eustace Southon, Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada), and several articles related to her work. One of my uncles claimed she persisted on flying the American Flag on her car during the occupation and landed both of them in Japanese Prison. Both her homes in Tianjin were torn down recently, but at least until a few years ago, her clinic was still standing and has a plaque to her work.

She walked across the border to HK around 1952 when it became apparent that her American education was a danger to her friends. She apparently left everything; and convinced a guard she was too old to be of use in the new society. Paperless, she somehow got to London and then was admitted to the US by a special bill. I haven't researched that, but I'm assuming through Walter Judd from Minnesota - he was a congressman and she knew his missionary parents. In getting her new passport, family gossip is that she subtracted 10 years from her age, and was able to get work in the US as a doctor. First in Tougaloo College in MS, then a women's prison in Connecticut and then in a school Massachusetts. At an historically black college, then at a women's prison - one doesn't know whether those were just the jobs she could get, or whether she was just that progressive. When I was a child in the Jim Crow south, I remember she sent me a "colored" doll! She and I wrote letters periodically up until I was about 14. She practiced medicine until her death in 1976.