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Gertrude A. Simon (1900–1966) Collection (1926–1996)

  • Collection Number: M-0061
  • 5 boxes, 2 linear feet : Correspondence, Manuscripts, Printed Publications, Documents, Personal Diaries, and Photographs


Gertrude Simon was born on July 13, 1900, in Zachow, Wisconsin. She graduated from Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1926. Later she took graduate courses from Washington University in Saint Louis, attended deaconess school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and was consecrated as a deaconess in 1940. In 1926 Gertrude Simon was commissioned as a missionary to China, where she served in Hankow, Shasi, Enshih, Wanhshin, and Chang King. In 1950 she was forced to leave mainland China because of the communist takeover. She fled to Hong Kong, where she remained until the end of her life, taking care of the physical and spiritual needs of the Chinese refugees. There Gertrude Simon worked with both the China Evangelical Lutheran Church in Taiwan and the Hong Kong mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, as well as with other European Lutheran Churches. In Hong Kong she initiated a wide variety of projects such as Haven of Hope Sanatorium, Love Need Christian Handicrafts, Rennie’s Mill Camp, roof-top Sunday schools, recruitment of teachers and students, Bible schools and Bible classes, boys’ and girls’ clubs, and Gospel broadcasting. Simon also published and mailed Grace Letters through which she kept Christians informed and encouraged them to help these Christian ministries. In June 1963 she resigned from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Hong Kong and became affiliated with the independent Christian Chinese Lutheran Mission. She died of cancer on August 25, 1966, at the age of 66, in Saint Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco, California.


The bulk of this collection contains Gertrude Simon’s correspondence with her family—her parents and her brothers, Henry and Martin—friends and officials of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Board for Foreign Missions for the period from the early 1930s to 1966. This correspondence can be subdivided into three main periods: Gertrude’s missionary work in mainland China (1926–1950), her work in Hong Kong with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (1950–1963), and the last three years of her life when she joined the Christian Chinese Lutheran Mission (1963–1966). Particularly intense was the correspondence in the last few years before Gertrude’s separation from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Hong Kong. There is also correspondence (letters and post cards) between Gertrude and her coworkers and with other members of her extended family, including her “adopted” children and students, as well as correspondence between her brothers, especially Henry Simon, and Gertrude’s best students, Peter Chang and Andrew Chiu, Gertrude main coworker, Martha Boss, and others. The collection also contains correspondence pertaining to the estate of the deceased Gertrude Simon (personal and official), the Simon and (Olive) Gruen Memorial Fund, the continuation of Gertrude’s missionary work in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and other Asian countries. Gertrude Simon’s life and work is also represented by published materials, including two prospectuses dedicated to the 5th and 10th anniversaries of the Gertrude Simon Lutheran College in Hong Kong, in the English and Chinese languages. Another part of the collection contains unpublished accounts by Gertrude’s coworkers, friends, and family about her personality, attitude, outlook and zealous missionary work in Asia, including the manuscript of a book dedicated to Gertrude’s life and mission written by her brother Henry Simon.

In addition, the Gertrude Simon Collection features correspondence and published materials related to the activities of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Hong Kong and the Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod for the period from 1962 through 1987, as well as a general folder on Christianity in Asia and a folder on Martin Simon’s service for the Lutheran Church in the U.S., China and Hong Kong from 1926 through1960.

The collection contains both typed and handwritten letters on various types of paper, including a Chinese type of paper; most of them are written in English, but there are also a few pieces of writings in Chinese, including a poster and brochures.

The other part of the collection features Gertrude Simon’s eight personal diaries written in the period from 1945 through 1959 and a large subcollection of photographs—a total of 1000 photos of various sizes in two boxes; the majority of the photos are black and white taken in the US, China, Hong Kong and Japan, spanning the period from 1936 through the mid-1970s. A substantial part of the photograph collection features Martha Boss’s work in Hong Kong.


The correspondence part of the collection arrived at Concordia Historical Institute in no discernible original order. It was arranged by topics and following the chronology of the events and activities pertaining to the missionary work of Gertrude Simon and her coworkers, members of her family and officials from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

The photographs arrived in three well documented albums, which made possible the preservation of their original order for the most part. The photographs were arranged and described by Bernice Malec.


Box 1

Folder List:

f.1 Documents and publications related to Gertrude Simon’s education (1926–1956)

f.2 Gertrud Simon’s work in China and India: correspondence, statistics, personal correspondence and post cards (1934–1949)

f.3 Gertrude Simon’s work in China (1940–1950). This folder contains correspondence (1940–49); a song (sheet music) composed by Gertrude; an account of Gertrude’s rescue of orphans; transition from China to Hong Kong—letters, an account of the situation in China (1949–50) by Tom Lee; an account of the Lutheran Mission Hospital in Enshih Hupeh, dated June 15, 1947, and of Changking, Chengtu, Hong Kong, undated, both of them addressed to Miss Mueller; a statistical report of Gertrude’s work in Ichang (Sept.1946–Aug.1947)

f.4 Correspondence (1947–1948): Gertrude Simon’s three letters addressed to Rev. Norman Temme: the first dated Oct.4, 1947 (typed), the second dated June 12, 1948 (typed) and the third dated October 9, 1948 (handwritten).

f.5 Gertrude Simon and her parents (1889–1965): Gertrude’s letters to her parents (1944–1965); a newspaper clipping about her parents’ “Golden Wedding” (undated); an article about Gertrude’s mother who transcribed the Bible into Braille for the blind (Feb. 2, 1957); a letter to Gertrude’s mother, dated Nov. 30, 1898, “from her brother Martin who later was killed in a horse accident,” as per an anonymous source.

f.6 Letters from Pastor John Wei in Macao to Gertrude Simon (Oct.–Nov. 1951)

f.7 Correspondence associated with Gertrude Simon’s projects in Hong Kong (1951–1959); G. Simon’s will (1959)—her original letter and a copy

f.8 Gertrude Simon’s diary and personal correspondence regarding her work in Hong Kong (1951–1959); statistics of the indigenous work of the Lutheran Mission in Hong Kong (1956–1958); letters from Gertrude’s “children” or students (1954–55) in English and Chinese

f.9 Correspondence between Gertrude Simon, Henry Simon, Peter Chang, Herman Koppelmann and others (1952–1967), the bulk of it is dated from 1957 to 1961

f.10 Correspondence between Rev. H. E. Simon, Herman Koppelmann, Gertrude Simon, George Winkler, Peter Chang, Arthur Schulz, Martin Simon, regarding the Lutheran Mission in Kowloon, Hong Kong, and Gertrude’s future in this mission (1958–1959)

f.11 Personal correspondence between Gertrude, Henry, and Martin Simon, and other Lutherans regarding the issue about Peter Chang’s separation from the LCMS, Gertrude’s work in Hong Kong before her separation from the LCMS and the options for Gertrude after her separation (1959–1964)

f.12 Correspondence between Gertrude, Henry, and Martin Simon, Peter Chang, and officials from the LCMS Board for World Missions regarding the conflict between Peter Chang and the Board, his separation from the LCMS and Gertrude’s resignation from the LCMS; an account of Peter Chang’s activities for the Chinese Christian Lutheran Mission (CCLM) in Hong Kong (1959–1965)

f.13 Gertrude Simon’s correspondence after her separation from the LCMS in July 1963 and her joining the Chinese Christian Lutheran Mission (CCLM) regarding her future projects in Hong Kong: Bible schools, rehabilitation center, Love Need Christian Handicrafts (1963–1965)

f.14 Gertrude Simon’s Grace Letters (1957–1966); Graceletter Postscript (Oct. 2, 1966)

f.15 The last months of Gertrude Simon’s life (Jan.–Aug., 1966): Gertrude Simon’s letters to her friends and family (Jan.–May, 1966); Martha Boss’s account of Gertrude’s flight to San Francisco and her hospital stay in San Francisco (July 1966); correspondence during Gertrude’s final weeks (July–August, 1966)

f.16 Correspondence between Henry Simon and Martha Boss, Paul Strege (secretary for the Far East), Gertrude’s brothers and sisters and other Lutherans regarding Gertrude’s illness, her last weeks and how her work in Hong Kong will be continued; Gertrude Simon’s Expense Fund establishment (July–Sept. 1966)

f.17 Newspaper clippings announcing the news of Gertrude Simon’s death; letters and cards expressing condolences about Gertrude Simon’s death (Aug.–Sept. 1966); Gertrude Simon’s autopsy report (dated Aug. 25, 1966); correspondence between Henry Simon and friends and organizations regarding Gertrude Simon’s memorial and legacy (1966–1967); a brochure on Gertrude Simon’s biography in Chinese and English; Graceletter of 07/11/1966; Graceletter Postscript of 10/02/1966.

f.18 Official correspondence related to the estate of the deceased Gertrude Simon (1966–1967); government documents associated with Gertrude Simon’s health insurance and social security account (1966); Rodex personal card of Gertrude Simon from the LCMS Board for Missions (a copy).

f.19 Henry Simon’s correspondence regarding the Simon-Gruen Memorial Fund (1966–1967); two brochures on Simon-Gruen Memorial Fund; Henry Simon’s correspondence regarding continuing the work of Gertrude Simon, including the future of Andrew Chiu, one of her most devoted students (1966–1968); a portion of a newsletter on Andrew Chiu’s visit to the US (undated, but probably from the mid-1970s).

f.20 Correspondence between Henry and Martin Simon and Andrew Chiu regarding Andrew’s work in Hong Kong Lutheran Mission and possibilities for furthering his education (1967–1968).

f.21 The Simon-Gruen Memorial Fund (1966–1968): Testimonials for donations to the Memorial Fund (1966); disposition of the Simon-Gruen Memorial Fund—correspondence (1967–1968); Estate of Gertrude Simon, deceased—legal correspondence (1967)

f.22 Correspondence between Henry Simon, Martha Boss, Paul Strege, Martin Simon and Ann Porterfield regarding the utilization of the funds from the Gertrude Simon Expense Fund and the Simon-Gruen Memorial Fund for projects in Hong Kong (1967, 1969, 1971–1972); Deaconess Training Scholarship Endowment Fund in Hong Kong; a brochure of Simon-Gruen Memorial Fund.

f.23 Five Newsletters of the Chinese Lutheran Mission in Hong Kong issued by Peter Chang, dated 1962, 1963 (2), 1966, 1967.

f.24 Activities of the Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod (1971–1980): correspondence; the president’s (Andrew Chiu) report; a memo for the proposed Martha Boss memorial center; a map of the Lutheran Church institutions in Kowloon, Hong Kong and Macau; two newsletters (dated April and Nov. 1972); the Hong Kong Lutheran Handicraft Society—correspondence (Sept.–Oct. 1980)

f.25 The work of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Hong Kong and Macao (1971–1974): reports, proposals, conference papers, a summary of doctoral thesis, newsletters; brochures on charity projects (e.g., the Hong Kong Lutheran Handicrafts); Concordia Theological Seminary in Hong Kong—catalogue (draft), 1972–1974.

f.26 Correspondence regarding the activities of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Hong Kong: conferences, Bible schooling, the role of women in the Hong Kong Lutheran Church (1972–1974); the activities of the Concordia Theological Seminary in Hong Kong; the Nathan Road Lutheran Church (Evangelical branch) activities and its leader, Pastor Philip Ho; an article about him in The Lutheran Witness, Nov.18, 1973.

f.27 Brochures about the Lutheran Church activities in Hong Kong in Chinese and English (1970–1972). English articles and newsletters about the Lutheran Church activities in Asia: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

f.28 Timothy Project in Hong Kong; Henry Simon’s trip to Hong Kong (1971–1973); a clipping from The Lutheran Witness on this trip (Jan. 1973)

f.29 Martin Simon’s service for the Lutheran Church in the U.S., China and Hong Kong (1926–1960): correspondence, a personal account and an article on him in The Christian Parent (Dec. 1949)

f.30 Christianity in Asia (Hong Kong, Tokyo)—brochures in Chinese and English; Pearl Harbor—a clipping dated Dec.7, 1941

f.31 Publications about Gertrude Simon’s work in China and Hong Kong (1949–1996), including Andrew Chiu’s article “Gertrude Simon—‘Walking Bible’” (in Cross and Caduceus, Nov.–Dec. 1966). All the publications are in English, except one small brochure in Chinese.

f.32 Gertrude Simon’s Lutheran College in Hong Kong: 5th Anniversary—a prospectus in English and Chinese; 10th Anniversary (1977–1987)—a prospectus in Chinese

f.33 Henry Simon’s correspondence regarding collecting information about a future book on Gertrude Simon: 1979, 1984; two handwritten drafts of the table of contents; two copies of a chapter titled, “Leaving the Synodical Mission Umbrella” (typed, undated)

f.34 Henry Simon’s manuscript of a book about Gertrude Simon’s life and work: 5 chapters (typed, final drafts with corrections, 1996); two earlier drafts with corrections

f.35 The others about Gertrude Simon (family and coworkers): accounts by Martha Boss, Andrew Chiu, Henry Simon, Martin Simon, and others (1923–1979)

f.36 Biographical Sketches of LCMS Mainland China Missionaries, compiled by Albert H. Ziegler (1981), text and photos, including of Gertrude Simon (pp. 98–101) and Martin Simon (pp. 101–103).

f.37 Maps of China and Hong Kong

Box 2

A ledger for Gertrude Simon’s expense fund documenting amounts, names and addresses of donors who responded to an appeal in the Grace Letter, dated August 1, 1966; funds collected in the period from Aug. 1, 1966 to June 1967; funds calculated on Dec. 1, 1971.


Box 3

Gertrude Simon’s Diaries (1945–1959). This box (5.5 x 12.5 inches) contains eight personal calendar-diaries of Gertrude Simon (handwritten, six leather diaries and two paper) for the following years: 1945, 1946, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955–56, 1956, 1959. The box also contains Gertrude’s American passport, her Hong Kong driving license and her last plane ticket from Hong Kong to San Francisco.


The photos were taken out of the original photo albums and arranged in 10 folders, grouped by years. The original arrangement from the albums has been preserved with regard to the chronology of the events shown on the photos. Each folder contains varying numbers of photos, usually grouped by topic/event. Most of the original arrangement by topic, as far as it can be discerned, has also been preserved. The dimensions of the photos vary. Most of them are 2.5 x 3.5 inches; others are 3.5 x 5.5, 5 x 7, or 8 x 10. Most of the photos are well documented; on the back of each photo there is some identification of the people, the place and/or the time. The bulk of the descriptions are in English, but some are written in Chinese. The pictures usually feature groups of people, individuals, buildings, landscapes or in-house gatherings and events, such as baptisms, confirmations and others. When there is no original identification of the place, especially with regard to China and /or Hong Kong, we leave the proper identification at the discretion of the interested researchers.

Box 4

f.1 1936–1953: USA and China – 7 envelopes

f.2 1948–1950: China, Hong Kong – 2 envelopes

f.3 1945–1953: USA, China and /or Hong Kong – 12 small envelopes (4.5 x 6.5), including an undated newspaper clipping showing Gertrude Simon teaching a Bible school in Kowloon, Hong Kong; 1 big envelope (8.5 x 10.5) with a group picture from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with Martha Boss on the front row.

f.4 1950–1951: Hong Kong, Japan – 14 envelopes

f.5 1952–1953: Hong Kong – 18 envelopes

f.6 1954: Hong Kong, Rennie’s Hill Camp – 21 envelopes

f.7 1955: Hong Kong – 12 envelopes

f.8 1956: Hong Kong – 10 envelopes

f.9 1957–1958: Hong Kong, USA – 4 envelopes

f.10 1959: USA, Hong Kong – Saint John’s Primary School (group pictures) – 3 envelopes

Box 5

f.11 1960: Hong Kong – 4 envelopes

f.12 1961: Hong Kong – 7 envelopes

f.13 1962: Hong Kong – 11 envelopes, including 17 photos featuring Martha Boss

f.14 1963: Hong Kong, USA – 11 envelopes

f.15 1964: Hong Kong – 12 envelopes, including 24 photos featuring Martha Boss

f.16 1965: Hong Kong – 2 envelopes, including photos from Rennie’s Mill refugee camp (R.M.C.) – R.M.C. summer retreat

f.17 1965–1966: Hong Kong and Bonduel, Wisconsin – Gertrude’s church and tomb stone (3 photos), 2 envelopes

f.18 1968: Hong Kong – one group photo of nurses, assumed to be their graduation ceremony

f.19 1969: Hong Kong – 4 photos featuring Martha Boss

f.20 Undated: China and/or Hong Kong, 3 envelopes: 8 photos featuring the everyday life of Chinese people; 6 group photos from a Bible school and New Year feast; 5 photos of Swedish co-workers.

f.21 1960s – mid 1970s: Hong Kong – Miscellaneous: Gertrude Simon Lutheran College (8 photos featuring the construction of the college); Chinese bank notes; 4 postcards; 14 photos taken, developed, and printed by students of the Kwan Tang Vocational Training Centre, a project of the Hong Kong field office of the Lutheran World Federation Department of World Service, and others – a total of 42 photos.

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