Cadbury Chinese Poster Collection

Introduction to the Collection

Graduate of Haverford College’s Class of 1898, Dr. William Warder Cadbury (1877-1959) went on to earn his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1909, Cadbury traveled to Canton, China (Guangdong 廣東), as a medical missionary to Canton Hospital, the first Western-style hospital in China. He would remain there for four decades. During this time he witnessed, among many events, the end of dynastic rule in China with the final years of the Qing dynasty, the rise and fall of various political factions, including what would eventually coalesce into the Chinese Communist Party (CCP or Gongchandang 共產黨) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT or Guomindang 國民黨), and the Japanese occupation of China, during which he and his wife Catharine were interned for eight months.

 Cadbury was a scrupulous keeper of journals, in which he chronicled all things that mattered to him, from political events to the orchids in his garden. His papers, generously gifted to Haverford College’s Special Collections in 2004 and 2007 by Emma Burton Cadbury and Ann Cadbury Trentman, include not only these journals but a variety of documents, photographs, scrapbooks, and other ephemera that furnish a picture of his life during these decades and that also offer us glimpses of that tumultuous period.

 Among these papers, a small collection of political posters and broadsheets stand out. We know very little about how these posters in particular were selected to be preserved by Cadbury, but it is intriguing to consider how a Quaker who held firmly pacifist views would respond in this period to witnessing acts of aggression from within and beyond China’s borders. The posters we have here reflect the shifting allegiances of this period, as various factions decided to form alliances only to shrug them off in favor of new ones, seemingly overnight. It is in this context of quicksilver changes that we must view these posters, which are less interested in presenting nuanced analyses of the situation at hand than they are invested in convincing their audience against the immediate threats of a perceived enemy. The images, therefore, are frequently hyperbolic and often extremely disturbing in their violence.

These examples in particular are unusual not only because they represent the Republican Period in Chinese history, but because of their provenance. Among these illustrations are examples drawn by artists like Lu Shaofei (1903-1995 魯少飛), the editor of the variety magazine Modern Sketch 世代漫畫, giving us some insight into the various audiences that a single artist would cater to at one time. Most of all, these posters are a valuable reminder of how our views of history are shaped by what is preserved as much as by what is lost. The posters are tangible representatives of a moment in time, but they are not by any means the only statement; from the comfortable perspective of a century later, we can see how quickly sentiment and opinion could shift dramatically and completely. We hope that they will be treated in this spirit.

 The digitization of these posters and creation of this website was made possible by a generous grant provided by Bryn Mawr College’s Blended Learning Initiative with technical support from Bi-College Digital Research Specialists Michael Zarafonetis of Haverford College and Alicia Peaker of Bryn Mawr College.
All of the materials found on this site are physically located in Haverford College’s Special Collection, specifically Collection Numbers 1160 and 1192. They should be cited as: 
“Poster number,” William Warder Cadbury Collection (MC number), Quaker & Special Collections, Haverford College, Haverford PA.
“HC2016-573,” William Warder Cadbury Collection (MC 1192), Quaker & Special Collections, Haverford College, Haverford PA.  

Shiamin Kwa, East Asian Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, Bryn Mawr College 
Anna-Alexandra Fodde-Reguer, Lutnick Library, Haverford College

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